Ft. Dix


As a reader, I am always curious about what happened then, etc. I am sharing below a few of the experiences that happened in the next 30+ years.

By Easter 1964, the new Brigadier General Victor Hobson and his family had moved to Ft. Dix, New Jersey, and settled into their spacious new quarters, an over 100 year-old, 3-story white wood frame house, in a fairly private area of the fort. Before the Civil War and perhaps during it, a hidden closet on the second floor had been used to help slaves escape from the South during the time of the so-called Underground Railroad. Outside was a multi-car garage, a huge yard and a pond with a rowboat. The kitchen was huge, which made it easy to entertain, a requirement for Army officers of higher ranks.

I came to visit during Easter vacation and had my own room on the top floor. In the summer after my college graduation from the College of William and Mary, I came back to enjoy several weeks with the family before I flew to Germany to be with my mother and stepfather, sister and brother. I was planning on working in Europe.

Susanna, Marlena and me at the Jersey Shore

Susanna, Marlena and me at the Jersey Shore

One of the funny highlights of the summer at Ft. Dix was the destruction of one wall of the garage. I had my driver’s license but was a newbie. One afternoon, I volunteered to take Marlena and Susanna to the Ft. Dix swimming pool. I wasn’t an expert at backing out of a garage, and as I reversed the car, I took out part of the wooden sidewall. I was embarrassed, and the girls were worried about what their father would say. Fortunately, he saw the humor in it and I relaxed. After all, he was the deputy commander. When the military construction crew came out to repair it the next day, there was great hilarity at the fairly extensive damage done by me, the General’s 21-year-old daughter, with a fairly compact car.

Marlena & Susanna by the infamous car and garage

Marlena & Susanna by the infamous car and garage before the accident.

Over the next thirty-six years I would visit with the Hobsons several times, both in Virginia and California. In May 1974, there was a tragic coincidence. Migia Hobson, my father’s wife, died of a stroke and 11 days later my mother, Garnette Williams, died of kidney disease. They were both barely in their fifties. Susanna, the oldest stepsister who was married and had a young son, died in 1990 of multiple sclerosis.

Victor Hobson suffered from diabetes in his late 40s and a couple of years before he died, he lost most of his left leg to the disease. I was visiting Virginia shortly after his operation, and got to see him one last time in 1997. My father, Victor, died on December 31, 2000, at 2:30 p.m. My birthday is on New Year’s Day at 2:30 a.m. I don’t believe the timing was an accident.

As I’ve said before, the coincidences and connections of life will always amaze me.

My Ebook on Amazon

My Ebook on Amazon


After meeting Col. Victor Hobson at the Pentagon, I had to tell someone. It was  a momentous event and no one knew what I’d been up to. When I got back   to the Reiner’s Alexandria home where I had been staying for a few days while I went job hunting and father hunting, I debated on what to do. I couldn’t afford to call my mother in Germany; my frugal stepfather would never accept a collect call. First, I opened up my portable typewriter and wrote a letter to Mom, a letter I’ve kept all these years.

Since I still needed some human feedback, I went in search of 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 Mannheim, Germany, where my dad was assigned. 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 in the District of Columbia. 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.


Getting his Star

Getting his Star from a 2-Star General

An unusual coincidence occurred the day before I returned to William and Mary. 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.

Marlena, who is a college art professor in Virginia, 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!’”



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