April, 2011:

HEADED FOR GIBRALTAR, GATEWAY TO THE ATLANTIC OCEAN

I saved the mimeographed Rose Report, now very tattered and the type blurred from age. The Master’s Morning Report was featured every day and the one I kept related we’d traveled 167 miles from Naples to Leghorn at a speed of 12.9 knots and a time of 12 hours. It didn’t mention if the storm had slowed us down. After our visit in Livorno (Leghorn in English), we were headed for Gibraltar on the 29th. Our last port was 713 miles away, which would keep the ship at sea for two days.

The Report was very informative, giving us tidbits about the geography and the history of the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding countries. There were also a few articles about military personnel and their dependents, like the story about a baby born on a military plane at 7,000 feet on its way to Hawaii. My souvenir Report informed us the movie being presented that day for adults was “Wild is the Wind,” starring Anthony Quinn, Tony Franciosa and Anna Magnani, who I remembered as the tempestuous Italian actress who wasn’t a beauty like Gina Lollobrigida.

Gibraltar was our last stop before crossing the Atlantic, which would take a week. When we docked, we were all instructed that photos of the dock were not allowed. Those were the days of the Cold War and the British Forces stationed there were security conscious. Several of us wondered about the name of a British ship docked near us: the Eddy Beach. I imagine its name had some historical significance but a brief Internet search didn’t reveal the origin.

Since there was no tour offered of the renowned “rock” or views of the famous monkeys (called apes) that lived there, a bunch of us meandered the nearby streets in downtown Gibraltar. I noted a few of the very British street names: John Macintosh Place, Cumberland Road and Spud Hill. I complained about the French fries in a tea shop—“swimming in grease and salt and not very done.” I also wrote that I bought a Crunchy bar, two caramels, and some Treets (chocolate-covered almonds)—all for watching movies on the Atlantic voyage. I saved a scrap of paper from a bag from Perez & Navarro, a fruit and chocolate store established in 1894 on Main Street!

When we got back from our very long walk, Diana and I took turns looking through my binoculars at some British fellows training in the harbor for boat racing. Teenage girls were always interested in males!

At 6 p.m. that evening the Rose departed Gibraltar and began the journey to New York harbor and the good old USA.

The Rock in the 1950s

 

 

HEADING NORTH THROUGH A TEMPEST

After the Pompeii tour, we were back onboard the Rose that afternoon and left Naples for Leghorn (Livorno in Italian) at 6 p.m. June 28, 1958.  The ship tossed and turned as it fought its way north; it was our only storm during the entire cruise. A dance was planned for the teens, and my friend Diana was anxious to go since her latest boyfriend, who was the president of the Naples Teen Club, had debarked in Naples. Nature wasn’t in the mood for a party.

The dining room had finished serving when Diana came to my cabin to pick me up.  The ship was already rocking, and right away, she threw up in our sink. That wasn’t the end of it, as I noted in my scrapbook: “Diana threw up five times!” When Diana returned to her family’s cabin, I went by myself to the dance and even managed to dance a few. The party soon broke up—not too many sailors among us. I was proud of my stamina and balance, and wrote: “I pulled through. How I don’t know, but I didn’t throw up once. Whew!!”

The following afternoon we docked in Leghorn; most of us were relieved to see land after the rough seas. My mother, sister Joan and I met Army friends from the Corps of Engineers who had been stationed in Tripoli and were now in Italy. Because of all the traveling, even in the days of letter writing, military people tended to stay in touch for years. The old friends took us to the Leaning Tower of Pisa before we went to a cocktail party (only for the grown-ups, of course).

“At Pisa, going up the steps to the tower was murder; I don’t know when I’ve walked up sooo many steps,” I wrote. “The steps wound around the tower. Coming down the tower really got me though.”

 

My sister and I had started up the deeply grooved steps before Mom. We were surprised how open everything was. It would have been easy to walk out to the encircling balconies and fall right off: there were no railings.  Joan, who was only nine, was hesitant as we ascended since we could feel the slope of the tower. Once my mother, who was behind us, spotted the danger, she started running to catch up! We had reached the top by the time she got there, panting, and breathed a sigh of relief that her daughters were safe and sound. I don’t think Italians worry so much about safety; Americans seem paranoid compared to other cultures.

 

When we were safely down again, our little group walked over to the nearby cathedral.  I was told one of the bronze doors, which had various historic scenes in bas-relief, had a magic lizard carving. It was a superstition that if you rubbed the lizard, you would have your wish come true. It was the shiniest thing on the whole large door! I couldn’t resist and my wish did come true. I attracted a short-term boyfriend, one of the initially  “unfriendly” group that had gotten on the ship in Istanbul. Bill was an easy conversationalist, a good dancer, and knew how to kiss: must have been that advanced age of 18! The newer passengers had gotten comfortable, lost their shyness, and all of us made the most of the voyage.

ITALY, O ITALY…ESSENTIAL FOR A MED CRUISE

The two-day cruise from Turkey to Italy gave ample time to hold a teenage dance in the Aft Lounge of the General Rose and a chance to get to know the nine teenagers who’d embarked in Turkey, plus the thirteen who’d come aboard in Istanbul. I was diligent in putting down first and last names of almost every teenager. My early newspaper experience must have influenced me! It’s unfortunate those skills didn’t extend to using my fairly simple camera. I took plenty of black and white photos but the lighting is off in most of them, or it was too overcast focusing from the ship and the backgrounds look blurry. Coming into Naples, we sailed past the island of Capri, which my photos depict as lumps in the mist.

We would only stay a night and day in Napoli but it was time enough to explore after dinner and then again the next day. A small group of us, including two mothers and three teenage boys, walked from the ship to a nearby downtown area and bought a few items. I was evidently slightly disgusted and wrote in my scrapbook, “Charles (an Explorer Scout) was paying too much attention to me and I ignored him. He’s a slob. He bought an icky gray tie. We went in about every store. The boys were very bored with it all.” So much for my teenage opinions!

The next morning there was a bus to take us to famous Pompeii  and a guided tour, although at the time I thought that Leptis Magna, the Roman ruins in Libya, were much better. Apparently, the continuing excavations have since made Pompeii more outstanding.

I was annoyed when our tour guide took us to an almost completely restored house in Pompeii, but as a young female, I wasn’t allowed to enter. It was an ancient whorehouse with explicit graphic paintings and ceramic tile artwork. Some of the younger fellows who’d been able to go in told me the pictures on the walls were obscene, but they were too embarrassed to explain.

A street in ancient Pompeii

One of the Explorer Scouts from Tripoli was my companion for the Pompeii tour. David was a couple of years younger and very entertaining and energetic. When we lagged behind the tour guide by stopping to buy  postcards (the photo above is one of those postcards), we had to run to catch up. In my scrapbook I commented, “If we didn’t look a sight running through the streets of Pompeii.” I must have borrowed that phraseology from my Southern mother.

After the tour, our group was taken to a nearby restaurant for lunch. After all the exercise, we enjoyed the spaghetti.  Many of us got up to leave right after we’d finished what we thought was lunch. The waiters hurried to usher us back to our tables: the pasta was just the first course, they were already beginning to serve the second course of filet mignon. Unsophisticated military personnel and their dependents, especially in the 1950s, weren’t used to two-course meals, especially ones starting with spaghetti.

 

 

ON TO TURKEY – MED CRUISE

Our US Navy ship, the Rose, left Greece on a Sunday and headed east across the Aegean Sea to Istanbul. That night there was a teenage farewell dance since the families we had recently met, who had boarded in New York long before we had gotten on, were getting off in Istanbul to travel inland to their new homes in Ankara, Turkey. I wrote that we passed through the famous Dardenelles at 10:30 p.m., but since that famous narrow strait is 38 miles long, I’m sure it took us a while. The ship’s daily report probably informed us that the ancient city of Troy is near the western end of the strait and we would be sailing along the peninsula of Gallipoli (site of a famous WWI battle) until the ship entered the Sea of Marmara and kept going east to the port of Istanbul.

On Monday morning, we woke up in the harbor of Istanbul. Greece and Turkey weren’t on good terms and my mother was concerned we’d be caught up in it somehow. She’d also heard that Turkish cab drivers were erratic and drove too fast. Rumors about  driving talents were rampant in the Middle East. The British, for instance, were considered dangerous in Tripoli. Despite being an enterprising and usually fearless Army wife, Mom did worry, probably more so because she was in charge for this trip, not my absent dad.

Mom, my sister Joan and I were meeting up with Army friends who either lived in or were visiting Istanbul, and we had to catch a taxi to take us up to the city from the harbor. Listening to the angry Turkish voices on the cab driver’s radio didn’t assuage Mom’s fears, but we did make it without incident. Our friends made sure we hit the hot spots in that large bustling city: the Sultan’s Palace, the Blue Mosque (we had to remove our shoes), and the exotic Bazaar filled with hundreds of shops, where I bought a Turkish towel. There was nothing terrycloth about it: the material seemed like linen. Through the mists of memory, I can still see the fancy embroidery depicting a frog highlighted with shiny pieces of metal.

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul

 

The ship left Istanbul that night and by the next morning, we had already sailed back through the Dardenelles and south to dock in Izmir, once called Smyrna. Per usual, military passengers and dependents departed while new ones embarked. Wanting to document everything about this voyage, I kept track of all the teenage passenger names.

Diana, a friend from Tripoli, and I hung out together during the cruise. I remarked that her  shipboard romance was getting off the ship in Izmir, and that the new kids, who’d gotten on in Istanbul, weren’t very friendly. It didn’t take long, however, for all of us to get acquainted. One of the new fellows, Bill, was the ripe old age of 18, and he and I got very friendly. He didn’t seem to mind that I was only 15.

In Izmir, Diana and I ventured out on our own. We took a tour of the city and saw a Roman fort, a market and Kultur International Park. “We met two cute American sailors who bought us a Coke at the snack bar after the tour,” I wrote in my scrapbook. From the ship, I had taken two blurry photos of the mountains bordering the city and two clearer ones of the harbor area but didn’t take the camera on our excursion. My camera skills in those days were pitiful.

Izmir seen from USNS Rose - my amateur photo

The two of us didn’t understand the Turkish currency, or the language, but managed to figure it out enough to take a gharri ride.  The familiar horse-drawn carts had two horses here; in Tripoli they were pulled by a single horse. The ride was quite bumpy over cobblestone streets but we made it back to the ship safe and sound. The ship pulled anchor that night and headed west to Naples, a two-day sail.

 

HOME VIA THE MEDITERRANEAN IN THE 1950s

 

Wandering back in memory gives a different perspective, a look through rose-colored-glasses. In this case, I was on a cruise, with my mother and nine-year-old sister, on the US Navy ship General Maurice Rose, through the Mediterranean on our way to New York. It was a full ship with a contingent of about 160 passengers who had gotten on in Tripoli. Military personnel and military dependents would be embarking and debarking as we sailed to Athens, Istanbul, Izmir, Naples, Livorno and Gibralter before docking at Brooklyn Navy Yard a couple of weeks later.

It’s a different and insular world aboard ship. Getting one’s “sea legs” is important in case there are any storms. We had a tumultuous one off the coast of Italy about halfway into our trip and I managed to stay upright with all systems go. My family was lucky our cabin (narrow bunk beds and a private toilet, as I recall) was on boat deck and not subject to as much rocking and rolling as all the lower decks.  The smells aboard ship are definitely distinct: a pungent combination of oil, metal and seawater. There’s also the mysterious aroma, to me, of adventure: new vistas, new people, new places.

All the newness was mixed in with old friends from high school at Wheelus Air Force Base who were also coming back to the States. We teenagers had our own teen club in the Aft Lounge, in the back of the ship, with rock and roll music and all sorts of social activities.  The ship had a small theater—a  room with a portable screen and folding chairs—and was stocked with movies: Missouri Traveler, Wild is the Wind, and The Careless Years, for instance. The only one I still remember, because I’ve seen it again, was Anna Magnani and Tony Franciosa starring in Wild is the Wind.

There were three seatings for meals in the formal dining room. As a reminder, a seaman would walk the ship’s corridors with a small xylophone, using his mallet to hit three or four notes.   We had the third seating and joined three American teachers traveling home.

The Rose passed out old-fashioned mimeographed copies of the Rose Report every day. It listed the movie being shown that day, a few tidbits of world news, something inspirational from the Chaplain, and even a little history. According to the Master’s Morning Report for 28-29 June, 1958, we had traveled 167 miles since the previous evening at an average speed of 12.9 knots.  This was Voyage 102 for the Rose.

The first day’s sail brought us from Tripoli to Piraeus, the port of Athens, and that evening we were offered a 3-hour tour on a large bus, modern for its day. After being on the continent of Africa for almost three years, it was a bit of an eye-opener to see people wearing Western clothing and to see stoplights for the first time. We walked around the rocks and the ruins of the Acropolis, but I’m sure the fifty years since have produced many changes, and I know a museum has been opened.

An old view of the Acropolis in Athens circa 1958

 

 

LUNCH IN GEORGETOWN AND A PROMOTION — final installment

A momentous event like meeting my birth father had to be shared with someone after I returned to the Reiner’s home. I couldn’t afford to call my mother in Germany; my frugal stepfather would never accept a collect call. Instead, I opened my portable typewriter and wrote a letter to Mom, a letter I’ve kept.

Since I still needed some human feedback, I went downstairs to search out Mrs. Klara Reiner; her daughter, Rita, was my friend from high school. I had lived with the welcoming and hospitable Reiners the previous summer when my parents and siblings left for Germany.  I knew Klara Reiner would be the ideal substitute mother for me; she exuded kindness, warmth and understanding. Since her own family had immigrated from Eastern Europe when she was a young girl, Mrs. Reiner was familiar with family upheavals. She was delighted with my news and encouraged me to do all I could to get to know this side of my life.

When I met Victor at the Pentagon a couple of days later, he drove us in a small, well-used Studebaker into historic Georgetown. We ate lunch at a posh place called the Four George’s – white tablecloths, small, quiet and elegant rooms served by obsequious waiters. I was charmed and felt like a cherished new daughter while we caught up on each other’s lives. He shared some of the highlights of his Army career and told me something of his personal life with his wife and daughters; I related my life so far and where my family had traveled. He seemed to be pleased that I was not involved seriously with a young man. He did not explain his concerns, but I was sure he was thinking back upon his own life and my creation.

Since we were enjoying each other’s company so much, he suggested that I come and meet his family that evening instead of waiting until Sunday. I agreed, and after he had called his wife to tell her, he drove us to his home, a two-story suburban brick house in Northern Virginia.

I was embraced with open arms by the gracious and stylish Migia, who treated me as a long-lost daughter. Her Italian simpatico reached out to welcome me into her family. My two new sisters acted as if I were a newfound and important relative. A quiet intelligent Susanna, at fifteen almost as tall as Victor and resembling him as well, was large-boned and blond. Marlena, thirteen but still a tomboy, was small and olive-skinned like her mother, and possessed Migia’s lively, spontaneous personality.

We spent the evening together at a local restaurant, which included some hillbilly fiddle music that reminded Victor of his Alabama roots, and made plans to get together again that Sunday. Sunday’s event turned into a wonderful three-day visit; I stayed until I was ready to return to college.

By the year 2000, Victor Hobson, his wife Migia and daughter Susanna had all passed on. Over the years I had seen and enjoyed all of them, and Victor had gotten to know my own children. I’m still in touch with Marlena, who is a college art professor in Virginia. Marlena remembers the night her father came home with the news that he had another daughter. “I was thrilled we had a half sister,” Marlena said and added, “Susanna was perplexed. I’ll never forget what she said: ‘I feel like we are in Hollywood!’”

An unusual coincidence occurred the day before I returned to college. Victor received the happy news that he had been promoted from full colonel to brigadier general, a coup for his career. My new sisters and I had a great time discussing all the privileges they would enjoy as the family of a general when Victor was assigned the post of Deputy Commander of Ft. Dix, New Jersey. And I was invited to join them during my college spring break.

Victor gave me the highest compliment of all when he told me his high honor and promotion had come about because of me. I had been his lucky charm.

 

 

Migia pins on my father's insignia for a US Army Brigadier General

 

I I           I

 

 

 

VICTOR ARRANGES A FATHER-DAUGHTER LUNCH DATE — PART 3

 

For those who haven’t read my past two installments regarding my birth father: when I was 21, I came unannounced and with no prior warning to his office in the Pentagon. I needed family information for job applications, and I was curious about this man I no longer remembered.

After a few minutes of conversation, Col. Victor Hobson asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?” After a pause he added, “I know that’s a silly thing to ask.” When I didn’t speak up, he said, “There’s an aunt of mine who’s asked about you. And my father. You’re a pretty girl; I hope you’re cagey with the boys!” He chuckled at his remark.

I laughed. “I don’t know how cagey I am, but I’m not planning to get married soon. I’m going to be in two weddings this summer, but I’d like to get a job that lets me travel.”

From his manner and despite the occasional nervous tremor and the loss of eye contact as he glanced down at his desk, I could see he was enjoying our interview. There was an essential charm and ease of manner about him as well as an obvious intelligence and thoughtfulness in his comments. He was making it easy for me to like him, and I could tell he was impressed with me. To make himself a bit more at ease, he took out a cigar and lit it. I positively hated cigars, but kept my mouth shut and was relieved the odor wasn’t overpowering.

Amazed at my own composure, I sat fairly still as we talked, able to answer sweetly and without much hesitation. The pencil I had brought with me suffered from all my tensions; I mauled its eraser with my fingers.

He asked about my accomplishments in college, and inquired after some of my mother’s relatives he had known and enjoyed years before. Not long ago I discovered he’d sent an older cousin of mine WWII German Army souvenirs from the battles in Italy, where my father had fought. I still have a tiny helmet with a blue clover insignia—he was part of the Blue Devils, the 88th Infantry Division, the first American unit into Rome in June 1944.

He then told me a bit about his Italian wife, Maria Luisa, nicknamed Migia, and how he’d met her in Trieste, Italy, where he had been stationed right after the war. He and Migia had a fifteen-year-old daughter Susanna and a thirteen-year-old daughter Marlena. He related he’d been in the Army twenty-three years but had never run into my stepfather.

Victor Hobson & family: Migia, Marlena and Susanna

 

“I have to admit something,” he confessed after a while. “The office had a party at Blackie’s in Washington for lunch, and I had a few martinis. It’s a good thing I had them before you walked in!”

I laughed, and he joined in. “I knew this meeting would surprise you,” I said, “and I was sure nervous, but I figured this was the best way to do it.”

“How long are you going to be here?”

“I don’t have to be back at William and Mary until next Wednesday.”

“Would you like to meet my family if I came by to pick you up? I know my wife would love to meet you.”

“I’d like to very much,” I answered sincerely. The meeting was working out better than I expected.

“Are you sure?” he asked again, apparently still uncertain about my walking into his life, and his guilty feelings probably nagging at him.

“Of course,” I replied as I wrote down my friend’s telephone number.

That night at the Reiners, where I was staying in Alexandria, I got a call from Migia. With her charming effusiveness, it was as if we had known each other for years. Although Italian, her low mellow voice and speech bore scarcely a trace of accent. She knew just what to say to put me at ease and make me feel wanted. She couldn’t wait to meet me on Sunday, but in the meantime Vic, as she called him, wanted to take me to lunch on Friday. Could I meet him at the Pentagon? It was all going faster than I had imagined, but I was excited and enthusiastically told her I was looking forward to all of it.

Last installment next week.

 

A Pentagon Encounter with My Father – Part 2

When I found the proper office among the rings and corridors of the enigmatic Pentagon, I walked into a long narrow room to the  secretary’s desk near a window. I told her I needed to speak with Colonel Hobson, and she directed me to a metal chair to wait until he was free. I took several deep breaths to keep myself calm. It couldn’t have been seated more than about three minutes, but it seemed like an eternity before she instructed me to go into the adjacent office.

Dressed in my collegiate straight skirt and sweater and carrying my winter coat (it was February), I resolutely walked into the spacious windowed office. There were two desks: Victor occupied the larger one by the window; his adjutant had a smaller desk off to the side. I wondered how I would manage this interview with someone else listening in, but pulled myself together and smiled as self-confidently as I could. After all, I was now a twenty-one year old adult.

Was this white-haired slender man truly my father? Did I even resemble him? Wasn’t he too old? My step-dad was scarcely gray. But this man’s hair was thick and wavy, similar to mine, and his slightly pug nose looked like mine. He looked at me inquisitively as I walked up to his desk, my heart racing in my chest.

“Col. Hobson, I’m Viki Williams!” I introduced myself as he stood up with a smile. I noted he was taller than my dad. He maintained his outward composure, though I could detect the astonishment in his eyes. He knew who I was immediately. Calmly and politely, he told the adjutant to leave and close the door behind him. He then directed me to sit in the chair in front of his desk.

“Now what can I do for you?” he asked hesitantly, smiling at me, the bomb who had dropped into his life.

What thoughts were rushing through his mind? I wondered as I kept my cool, though I was quaking underneath. Tension and unease hung in the air.  I quickly told him I was in my senior year of college and looking for careers, and I needed information for my CIA personnel form, such as where exactly was he born. As he gave me the information about his Alabama birth, we both relaxed a bit.

“I guess you think I’m about the worst man alive,” he offered with a hint of regret in his voice after we had finished the required questions.

“No, I don’t,” I replied evenly, too shy and uncertain to explain feelings I wasn’t even sure of. Even though Army officers weren’t known as “Disney” fathers, I had harbored no resentments through the years. I was simply curious and reaching out for clues to my origins.

“I’ve thought about you a great deal all these years,” he added softly. “You look very much like your mother, except taller.”

My parents: Garnette and Victor Hobson on a dinner date

 

“Thank you,” I answered, watching his head twitch nervously as he cocked it to the side.

 

“Where’s your family now?”

 

“My dad’s stationed in Germany,” I replied, thinking how odd to say that since this was my real father. “I’ve got a fifteen-year-old sister and a ten-year-old brother.”

 

“I have two girls; that’s all I seem to have.” He gave me a friendly smile. “Let’s see, it’s been eighteen years now.” He paused; it was the amount of time he had been married. “My girls don’t know about you. It’s so complicated, you know.”

 

Unsaid was my conviction that divorces were indeed complicated. I wondered just what his complications had been, and discovered later that his wife was Catholic, and the church was strongly critical of divorce. Circumstances required that they be married outside the church, and they had never told their children, who were being raised in the Catholic faith.

 

(Even after all these years, this conversation is accurate for the most part. I came back to my friend’s house and typed up my story for posterity, and I still have the typewritten copy. Besides, I knew my mother would want to know all the details.)

To be continued…

 

MEETING VICTOR – My Birth Father

Victor & Victoria

 

I was nine years old before I knew the man I loved and thought of as my father was not even a blood relation. These facts were startlingly revealed to me one summer day because the man I called Dad wanted to legally adopt me. He was a career Army officer preparing to serve in the Korean War, and this legal action would serve to set things right in case he encountered extremely bad luck. I was told that my birth father, Victor, was also an Army officer.

Dad sat me down at the kitchen table in the tiny pastel-colored Florida tract home we would occupy while he went to Korea for a year as an Army Engineer, fighting the war by building bridges and roads. He explained patiently that he wasn’t my natural father, but wanted to be. This was the first year I was truly cognizant of the fact my legal surname was different than my parents. When I was registered for elementary school in the fall, it would have to be under my legal birth name, a fact that made me very uncomfortable and embarrassed. With approval of the adoption papers, in a short time I would have my dad’s name, which was wonderful news for me. With my unquestioning consent, the adoption papers were sent to Victor for his approval at the Army War College in Pennsylvania, where he was stationed at the time. He signed and returned them without comment

When I was nineteen and in college, I began thinking about Victor and wondering what he was really like. I hadn’t seen him since I was a toddler and had no memory of him. It was a missing part of my life, no matter how much I loved my dad. I dreamed of meeting Victor and pictured various scenarios of his life. Was he still married? Did he have children? My dad had never encountered him in person during their mutually long military careers. I learned later Dad had kept track of the places Victor had been stationed through the years, but had never shared that information with me. Perhaps secrets are a built-in part of military life, even when you’re the dependent, not the military man.

During the semester break of my senior year of college I was staying with a girlfriend’s parents in Northern Virginia to investigate future job possibilities. I wanted to travel and was considering work with federal agencies that would send me overseas. I was even imagining the skullduggery of the Central Intelligence Agency, whose personnel offices were located in an anonymous-looking, unsigned building in Washington, D.C. A complete background check was required, and the forms had questions about my birth father that I couldn’t answer. My parents were stationed in Germany, but my mother, who did not have the answers for the CIA form, informed me Victor was working at the Pentagon. It was the perfect excuse to meet him.

I planned the excursion on my own, not discussing or mentioning it to friends or relatives. Only the closest of my friends even knew that Dad was my stepfather. Divorce and broken families were not as openly discussed in the early sixties.

A long bus ride from Alexandria deposited me at that five-sided military bastion known as The Pentagon, undoubtedly one of the largest buildings in the world, at that time. My dad had been stationed there, as had so many other military types at one time or another. Delaying my meeting and gathering my courage, I decided to visit the Army Employment Office first to check on possible future employment.

Afterward, since I had made sure I had Victor’s office number, I checked with the information desk, and they gave me a small map to show his office location – which ring, which corridor in this confusingly immense building. It took me a few extra minutes to get there because one of the corridors was wrongly lettered. I couldn’t have imagined how things would change in the future, especially after 9-11, when civilians would no longer be able to just walk into the Pentagon.

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

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