Having harassed poor Charlene about her 10-minute writing exercises, she's started up again. [My tirade about what a loser I am is here.] We're to write for 10 minutes on a particular prompt. We're not to stop for the 10 minutes. We're not to edit. We're just to write it and post it and let the world see. As I was the one bemoaning her stopping, I'm kind of obligated to do it, right? [For, like, ever?!!] Anyway, without further hemming and hawing, my 10 minutes of summer recall. In the raw.
There were many benefits being the child of an Air Force colonel. Not in the civilian world, of course, but when we were part of what’s known as the military community. And, yes, when I was what’s known as a military brat.
When we moved to Hawaii in 1970, we had to live off-base for about nine months, while we waited for “appropriate” housing to open up. What’s “appropriate”? That befitting a lieutenant colonel, which is what my dad was promoted to in 1970. Within two years, he was a full colonel, and that meant another move after a short period of time in the duplex.
The colonel’s residence – on a corner lot near the water, with a gorgeous lawn, four bedrooms, a maid’s quarters, you name it – was spectacular. But I didn’t really care about the on-base housing. I cared about what we scored when it came time to go to Bellows, the place for military vacationers.
A beach all of our own. No one else can come on. Totally safe, just like the Air Force base. Insulated, yes. Absolutely. And on some magnificent real estate, thank you very much. We used to get a couple of weeks at Bellows. Fully furnished. Big house. On the beach. On the beach in Hawaii. Go to sleep listening to waves. Wake up listening to waves. Stroll outside your lanai and walk on the beach.
We’d get up early in the morning, and military brats that we were, we’d bury the bubbles of the Portuguese man-o-war under sand, leaving the stinging tails out for later, unsuspecting feet to trod on. Man, we were terrible kids.
We would play cards in the afternoon, my siblings and I. The fourth of five kids, I was just old enough to play with the others. The fifth kid, the youngest, was ostracized as the baby. Never let him play with us. And it was one of the few times when we didn’t bicker, when we were competing to win at hearts. And competitive brats that we were, sticking someone with the queen of spades at the end? Sweeeeeet!
We had blow-up mattresses, blue on one side and red on the other, that we’d use to “surf” with. While not the waves we adored like we’d find at our regular “Tracks” beach, we got better waves than the crappy ones at touristy Waikiki Beach, a place we always had to go when people came from the mainland to visit. And a place all the kids hated because it was crowded and with lame waves. Put me at Waikiki, and the first thing I did was run off and ride the elevators of the tallest hotels. ‘Cause it beat hanging at the crappy beach.
But at Bellows, when you could swim at will? Near heaven. Where you could walk to get cheap candy? Near heaven. Where you played with other military kids from all over? Near heaven. Because we were a different animal. It was the Vietnam era. Many fathers were fighting. We were the first stop home for the POWs. We were part of the war machine. And that’s not the best position to be in as a kid.
So Bellows kind of made up for that.