Feb. 6, 1962 San Antonio, Texas. We’ve been here a week, Marty and I, exhausted, unbathed, cold, very nearly broke.
[Retrospective, From Jan. 13, 2013]:
I wish I could remember how it all came about that Marty and I concocted such a harebrained idea to begin with.
See, Marty and I had been taking a creative writing class at Allen Hancock Community college in Santa Maria, California.
The professor was a first year Irishman transplanted to California. I’m sure his countryman, James Joyce, had ignited a fire in his soul and Professor O’Dwyer even had his own abstruse, Obscurantist novel secreted away in his closet and was only teaching this class to keep the cinders alive until his own Finnegan’s Rebirth was, well, birthed.
We’d been over to Mr. O’Dwyer’s apartment a number of times during the semester, swilling bitter European coffee and platitudinously chastising the popular writers of the day. It was college, after all! Professor O’Dwyer frequently alluded to a novel in his closet that he was working on—but we never encouraged him further. Marty, Joe (who was another friend and fellow classmate) and I often snickered to each other the suggestion that O’Dwyer would’ve loved to have taken any one of us into that closet.
We only visited Professor O’Dwyer in twos or threes.
I’d always wanted to be a writer—Marty, not so much. We’d gone through high school together. He was a year behind me. Marty was not a stranger to harebrained ideas. When I graduated high school, for example, and decided to join the Air Force, he thought it was a grand idea. He somehow got his parents’ signatured approval to not finish high school, recruited another friend of his by the name of Julian, and the three of us joined the Air Force on July fourth, 1957. As a curious aside, since we chose such a momentous day in the history of our nation to join the military, we were sworn in by James Harold “Jimmy” Doolittle, a very famous general of the day. Afterwards, he walked down each rank, stopped before each new recruit, looked straight in his eyes and shook his hand. Of course, you don’t remember Jimmy Doolittle. Shaking his hand was a great honor at the time, but, I confess, over the two days it took me to write this account, I couldn’t remember his name for the life of me. Only today, as I was preparing to post it, that famous general’s name popped into my head. I had to go to Google to make sure I was right.
The three of us fancied ourselves as the kind of Three Musketeers. We joined together, we would go to tech schools together and travel the whole world as the Three Musketeers!
I never said we were mature or even possessed good sense back then!
Came the aptitude tests! Marty became an airplane mechanic, Julian went to food management, and I was hustled off into the Security Service.
Four years later, without as much as a howdy Musketeer during the four year interim, we were discharged and dumped back into Santa Maria. I have no idea where Julian ended up, but, as I told you, Marty and I enrolled in a creative writing class.
It might have begun as simply as this: Jay, he could have said to me, or Marty, I could have said to him, how much money you got? And after whichever one of us was being asked rooted around in his wallet and came up with an amount, the other would have done the same. Both amounts would have been added together and the one or the other of us who initiated the conversation would have announced, Let’s go to San Antonio, Texas.
Sweet Jesus! How funny memory is!
The whole idea of this retrospective was (and it really was!) to get back to the roots of the history before I arrived with Marty in San Antonio, Texas, February 6th, 1962, in hopes of discovering the reason why we left the well-cushioned security of our respective moms’ and dads’ homes in the first place and launched out into the unknown where no one knew, cared or even believed that we were immortal, and only our parents knew (but didn’t have the words to tell us), that the world would do everything in its collective power to disprove it. That is the world’s job, after all! We were to discover it, in our own singular souls, as all of us, singularly, must.
Anyway, in the searching, in the unwinding of the skein of the past, I reacquainted my mind with a forgotten fact: Air Force basic training was in Lackland, Texas. Which is in San Antonio, Texas. That geographical memory connected with its historical counterpart. I remember that Marty never left Lackland Air Force Base. He finished out his enlistment on that base, and spent a lot of time in San Antonio.
And, now it was flooding back to me!
While I had been shuttled off to Mississippi for schooling in Security Service and was subsequently sent to Libya, North Africa, to finish my tour of duty, San Antonio had become Marty’s second home.
Now, there was a modest little house in San Antonio which (stretching the image to its breaking point), became Marty’s third home. It so happened that residing in that home was a beautiful young lady, the name of Betty.
So … now the memory of the prehistory has come full circle.
It was Marty who asked me, “Jay, how much money you got?”
And, now, the retrospective completed, I’ll save for another post the entry in my journal from Feb. 6, 1962.