Board Six Tales CommunityOpEd.com On the Beach Panama City, Florida was a favorite playground, particularly if you think about the available attractions of southern Alabama. The panhandle of the Florida Gulf Coast has beautiful beaches. You can’t say much for the surf, but the beaches and the water are world class – at least then and even now, quite good except for the tall condominium buildings lining the beach. Funny how things could be so great if you could get rid of the people. Gone Fishing Saturday, June 2 No inspection today - surprise. After getting back from the character guidance lecture (does anyone listen to what they are saying – maybe out of boredom), we had a formation so Lt. Moye could officially dismiss us for the day. However, the threat of an inspection had done its job. The barracks was all shined up and my stuff was shaped up. Nice gesture on the Captain’s part though. At 2:00 a group of us piled into two cars and headed for Panama City, arriving at 4:30 - thirty minutes into the cocktail hour at the Surf and Sand Club. The cocktail hour is a two hour period from four to six with 45¢ cocktails - considerably cheaper than the usual 60¢. With the place so packed, it is hard to get many drinks. I went to the bar at 5:40 and couldn’t get served before the deadline. The trick is: go early and get enough to last the entire cocktail hour. A pretty good high developed, but 60¢ drinks took me out of the game. My drinks went up 30¢. The extra 15¢ came from specifying the type of scotch in my scotch sour (a waste of good scotch). Schultz remembers one Saturday afternoon: A gang of 12 or 14 sitting at one large table. You know how some people get teased more than others, well this guy got his drink (something exotic or unusual like a Singapore Sling). He took a sip, commenting it didn't taste right. The guy next to him said let me have a taste. He took a taste and said, "your right" and then handed it to the guy next to him for a taste. The drink went all the way around the table with each guy taking a taste and making some appropriate comment. By the time the drink got back to it's owner there was nothing left. No one complained about the taste of their drink ever again. The picture has Schultz, Peterson, Maravich and Rachner. Miniature golf was after dinner entertainment for this Saturday. I didn’t do well because it was the first time on this course - although, much easier than ones in Los Angeles. Later on, we arrived at the 98 Club for the 11:30 floor show. The show reminded me of Juarez but more sophisticated. The jokes were not better, the girls didn’t go as far; but nicer atmosphere. No worries about someone putting the make on you during the show. Just slightly reminiscent of Juarez: the smells, sounds and atmosphere that could never be fully imitated in the states. On the Beach CommunityOpEd.com 2 I would like to be able to say something poetic about that night on the beach - it was miserable. The wind blew, it was cold and the Army blankets were itchy. They say it will be real nice later in the summer when it’s warm enough to sleep without blankets and without freezing. Early Bird gets the Fish A fishing trip was scheduled at 7:00 AM. It was an hour away. They had iced beer for us on the boat, but I was a little reluctant to start - I was feeling a little queasy. But, it was free, so what the hell. The queasiness went away. Fishing was disappointing – no excitement. I caught one, but the only exciting part happened when I realized a fish was on the line. After that it was just a matter of reeling him in. They put up a pretty good fight, but the hook won’t break and the leader is heavier than it has to be. So, it is impossible to lose the fish. Because my 7-pounder (Kingfish) provided a good fight, I can see the fun of having 50 to 100 pounds of fish on the line. The quantity of fish we landed could not be considered outstanding. Seven fish, totaling 35 pounds, is nothing to brag about. But they did make a nice picture. From left to right: three King Fish, two Albacore and one Red Snapper. For $6 a piece, we did not get a bargain in excitement or fish. I think we will try a smaller boat with less people next time (our group was about half of those aboard). Some people went out on a smaller boat and caught about 30 fish. I can imagine the fun of getting that many strikes. The fishing trip ended at 12:00, so we spent the rest of the day on the beach soaking up what little sun was left. Monday The boat rental people had packed the fish in ice to take home and DA gave the cooks permission to serve them for lunch. We were having cold cuts otherwise. The fish were very tasty. Everyone commented how good they were. It even stirred up various discussions of going deep sea fishing. I had no idea the fish would turn into such tasty morsels – complements to the chef. I had the King fish. It was tender and had great flavor - not like fish at all. Rainy Days Sunday, June 17 Humprey talked five of us into going to the beach in spite of the clouds. It was cloudy all the way down and rained in spots. Blue skies threatened but would not come out. Wishful thinking, they were actually leaving. We bought meat and bread to eat on the beach. However, we ate in the rain (under a covered picnic table) - just a sprinkle though, just enough to make the whole trip seem ludicrous. All because of our desperate desire to escape Fort Rucker. Although I do not remember, Schultz reminded me of another popular dining option. In Schultz’s words: There was a small drive-in nearby that advertised, "The World's Largest Hamburger for 19 cents," really big - eight or nine inches in diameter as I recall. We ate there several times and no one ever got sick. Saturday, June 23 They really have a rainy season. This morning it looked nice, the sun was shining with white clouds scattered around the sky. But about noon, it clouded up with the rain pouring down a little later. Never have I seen it rain so consistently day after day. When a rainy period ends, it is hot for a couple of days and then starts again. And, when it rains, it pours. On the Beach CommunityOpEd.com 3 KP was periods between meals waiting for the few people to get hungry. It only takes an hour to clean up the place after each meal. I am always the pots and pans man – the least desirable job (assigned to the last person). When I get Monday’s KP over with, it will be a while before I get it again. Sunday Again we tried to get a tan on the beach while the rain was coming down. It didn’t do any good. We bought lunch in the grocery store and ate at the park by the beach. Eating in the rain is funny the first time but it is getting on my nerves. It has happened two weeks in a row - for a month nothing but sunshine, now nothing but rain. Monday I got up 25 minutes late for KP and my watch was 15 minutes late. So it added up to 40 minutes late. Trull chewed a little, hinting that next time he would turn me in to the orderly room. Since DA is looking for extra details, I believe the best course to follow is to do what I am told. These past 3 days eliminated KP for a while. My anniversary (June 25th) - sixteen months to go - day by day. Quiet Weekend Saturday, June 30 Today is payday so no inspection. In the afternoon, Humphrey and I went to Panama City, where we took in the cocktail hour at the Sand and Surf. After that we ate and took in another show at the Club 98: same old show, night on the beach. It was warm and I enjoyed a good night’s sleep. Club 98 has a one drink minimum - I always order a Manhattan; a drink I really dislike. I can easily nurse that drink for the entire show - like taking medicine. Sunday Although it rained an hour in the morning, it cleared up nicely. I got burned a little after all day on the beach. Quiet weekend - a little quiet - only Humphrey and I - neither being talkers. Still enjoyable though. Sleeping with the Mosquitoes Saturday, July 14 The sun was shining when we left - nice start - still shining when we got to the beach. Saturday afternoon, was 96 degrees. Also, at the Surf and Sand, we did not have to wait in line for drinks. We got there at 5:00 - enough time to have four drinks. Arrived at the bar 10 minutes On the Beach CommunityOpEd.com 4 to 6:00 - still served. Unusual, considering I have gone to the bar in the past at 5:20 and unable to get served before six. For co-op-dinner we borrowed a fire and roasted hot dogs - miniature golf followed. Later, the 9:30 show at Club 98 had the best stripper I have seen in Panama City. Bedded down on the beach behind the Sand and Surf. Oodles of seaweed provided an excellent haven for mosquitoes. We moved when they started getting together to carry us off. We fought our way out to the beach by our picnic grounds. No mosquitoes, just lots of people wandering about at 4:00 in the morning - not much sleep. At 7:00 in the morning, it started raining and did not stop until we left at 12:00 noon. The weekend started out so nice. Well, maybe next weekend. Presher in Action Saturday, August 25 Another month has flown by. We went over to test to move the desks, but decided to wait for the mechanics, who were coming over an hour and a half later. We moved pictures, chairs and papers before they got there. While the mechanics moved the desks, we labeled things with the officer’s names. We didn’t move desks. I told Humphrey I wouldn’t go to Panama City unless he got someone else to go. So he got Presher. After a slight delay on the road (Presher helping Humphrey fix the flat and me taking a picture), we got there about 3:00 and stayed on the beach until 5:00. Then the Sand and Surf for cocktail hour followed by a picnic grounds dinner. After dinner we went to the greyhound dog races (on the way to Rucker, just south of the Florida border). I did not bet but Humphrey and Presher broke even betting on all the races. Mike gave me $2.00 to bet on the number 2 dog in the 10 th race (don’t ask why). He did not want to come but wanted to bet on the race. In short, his dog won. So, he won $15.20 without even going down there. Back to the beach for the night. Sunday All day at the beach. Presher tried to make out with 3 women who were with a Major. He drank their liquor and beer - getting pretty drunk. He planned on staying with the Major overnight if one of the women would stay but the Major couldn’t promise anything. He left the Major and his women and come back with us. He was out of cigarettes so he asked a nearby women and then sat down with her. He wanted to see if he could make out with her. He talked to her for about an hour without any success. She finally took her 3 kids and went home. Then we went home. Presher: always trolling, every waking moment. And if we can take his word for it, he often succeeds. I have heard the same stories time and time again. He either has a very good memory or they are true. I have to go with the later. Presher Stories On the Beach CommunityOpEd.com 5 One story he tells at reunions has him sitting at a table in a bar and his cigarette tray is heaping full (he smoked a lot). He calls the waitress over and tells her about the full ash tray. She grabs it and dumps it on the floor and says, “Now honey, that wasn’t so hard was it?” Another one has him in bed late at night with an officer’s wife (not Board Six) and her husband comes home - lights coming up the driveway. The husband has been drinking (he did a lot of that) so he was a little slow getting the car parked (ran into a few things) and making it into the house. Presher and the wife had enough time to toss on their clothes and be standing in the kitchen when the husband came in. The wife says, “Honey, I was a little scared and I called Johnny up. We were just having a drink and he was trying to calm me down.” Her husband probably was relieved that his wife was not chewing He has a lot of stories like that and every time he tells one he laughs harder than anyone.
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