Friday, September 30, 2016

Living on a Navy/ Air Force Base

The heat shimmered over the road that June day in 1961 as we drove into El Centro, California. It was 120 degrees in the shade and the locals told us you could cook an egg on the sidewalk. I believed them. In those days, El Centro was a small town located just a few miles from the Mexican border and surrounded by farms. My dad had just completed his training as a Navy Supply Officer and this was his first assignment. I had just turned 11 and my brother, Jim, 9.  We had never lived on a base before. So with both excitement and apprehension we entered the new world of the Naval Air Facility near El Centro. Our first lesson occurred at the gate.  My dad told us that we could go out the gate, but we would not be allowed back in unless we showed proper military identification. I looked from the guard's guns to the high barbed wire top fence surrounding the base. I knew then that my life would be different.

To our right as we drove in were hangers with huge planes in front of them. Part of the plane opened and you could drive jeeps inside. We found out that the Blue Angels practiced here during the winter. Maybe this would be a fun place. 

We drove directly to our officers quarters. Our new home was an apartment in a long, stucco, robin's egg blue building. Each of the four apartments in the building had a small living room, and kitchen with a back door out to the clothes line where we could hang out our clothes. We also had three bedrooms; one for my parents, one for my brother, and one for me, and a bathroom. We had an oleander bush by the front door and some grass out front.  (This is me on our door step with our dog, Teddy. You can just barely see our bush.) Across from our building was the Bachelor Officer Housing. It was a big white one story building with bedrooms inside .(Dad told me. I never went in.) 
Beyond that was the Officers Club. Kids didn't go inside. There was a small outdoor pool, dressing rooms, and pool chairs. At 1 pm the pool opened, and all the officer's kids jumped in. That's where we kids spent our summers. Sometimes, I ordered a Shirley Temple (7 Up with a little cherry juice) from the snack window. They played teen music. My favorite song was "Cherie" because it was my name. I felt so grown up!

I had a room all of my own! My mom and dad found a small dressing table at a second hand store and fixed it up for me. Dad painted the table white, and my mom made a pink ruffled skirt for it, along with a pink ruffled bedspread and curtains. I had two crystal lamps on my dressing table. This is one of them. (the shade was white but just looks yellow in the picture)

 One day, I heard this loud BOOM! It sounded close. Soon, I saw the base ambulance come rushing up.  They entered the apartment next door and came out with someone on a stretcher who they took to the base hospital. Later, I  found out that a girl who was a couple of years older than me, had turned on gas to the stove, but didn't light the oven quick enough, and the gas exploded.  She was ok in a few months, but till then, each time I saw her red face with eyebrows and eyelashes burned off,  I vowed NEVER to light our stove. 

We had linoleum floors.  We owned a large green cotton rug which we rolled up and brought with us whenever we moved. We put it in the living room, and smaller rugs in the bedrooms. I had a white furry rug. After my mom put wax on the linoleum, I ran our buffer machine over the floor to polish it. It was sort of fun, but seemed to take a long time, and the shine didn't last very long.

I sometimes hung the laundry out on the lines behind our apartment. There was a certain way to do it. You put up a sheet or towels, then on the next line in we hung our underwear.  On the front line we hung more towels, pants, or shirts to give privacy.


There were roads around the housing area. In the evenings when it was cooler, we kids rode our bikes, at least until a goat head sticker punctured one of our tires.

We also dug pit forts in the dirt field while lizards darted around us. Sometimes I held one in my hand and petted it. I like lizards. They are alert and have soft tummies.

By the housing was a play area called "Tiny Town". It was a bit old and broken when I was there and the gate was chained closed. Of course, this didn't stop us kids from getting in and playing in the little stores and church.

Behind the housing was another dirt area, then there was the indoor EM (enlisted man's) pool. It was Olympic sized. This is where I took my Junior Lifesaving course. I had to jump in and "save" someone. I also had to swim an entire mile without stopping. I thought I was going to die, but I did it!

This is a picture of the EM pool. In the distance was our housing. Across from the EM pool was the Commissary (grocery store and pharmacy), and a large movie theater. We saw movies there with our parents. Beyond that was the rest of the base, the Dispensary (hospital) and offices. My dad worked in the Supply office, but we kids were not allowed there. We did go to the Mess Hall (cafeteria) once and ate Thanksgiving dinner. There was lots of food, but not as good as mom's.

I did go to the hospital once to have a spinal tap to see if I had spinal meningitis- I didn't, but I got to ride home in an ambulance and had to lie flat for 24 hours. The ride was fun, but I got bored not being even allowed to have a pillow so I could see the TV better. Mono (mononucleosis) had spread across the base. Everyone got it, but I didn't recover as fast as everyone else.  I had to sit in the sunshine a lot and rest, and then I was ok.

I enjoyed the excitement of base living. I got to watch the parachuters jump. One older jumper told me that he had broken every bone in his body at least once. He said that the dangerous part is landing. The wind can catch the parachute before they can gather it up and drag them a ways. That's where the injuries happened. Most of all I loved the freedom we had on the base. As long as we stayed out of restricted areas (airfield, offices etc), we could go where we wanted. It was great!


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Becoming a Missionary Mom


For the last few months I’ve felt a compulsions to get all in order in my home and life:
Family History and Visiting Teaching has been organized and information put in the computer.
Notes and reminders put onto my computer calendar and contacts list.
Papers, files, boxes, closets, cupboards, and attic gone through.
Play area downstairs refined and library set up in the yellow room upstairs.

After being able to go to the Zoo and still feel alright, I knew I was feeling better and could now do more.  I knew that my collapsing last winter was an opportunity for me to learn how to use my medication and feel better.  As the week progressed, I increasingly felt anxious to try something new and a bit restless.  I’ve had a sense that I was being prepared to do something more-- but what?

On Friday, we received a phone call asking us to meet with the Stake President on Sunday July 24, 2011.  It seemed logical that my husband would be called to a stake position since he has been up at BYU for over four years, but I felt that it was something that would concern me.  When we arrived, the Stake President said that he felt we should serve some type of mission and wanted us to consider our situation: health, finances, circumstances. We replied that we would think about it.  I didn’t feel that we should say, “No”, but how could we serve a mission with my poor health?

That afternoon my husband and I talked, and I read over the on-line information on LDS missions.
There were so many exciting opportunities to serve the Lord, but I knew I couldn’t do them. I simply don’t have the health to live outside my home, away from my doctor, and work forty hour weeks.  I realized that I couldn’t even pass the required physical.  I felt like crying.

Our home teacher came over to our home. We talked with him on our patio, and he prayed that I might find opportunities to serve.  When we went back inside, the words, “Look up Church Service Missions” came into my mind.  I hadn’t remembered hearing of this type of mission, but there it was on-line.  As I looked over the opportunities, I saw a part-time writing mission. I only needed to be able to write for eight hours a week, and I could just make a six month commitment. There is also no physical to pass and I can work and train at home. What I would do is respond to visitors’ comments on LDS.org and the Church’s Facebook page.  I had a strong feeling that this was something I could do and would enjoy doing. It felt right for me– something I had been prepared to do.

The next day I called the contact person in the Curriculum Department at Church Service Headquarters.  I told him of my five short articles published in the Ensign magazine and my twenty years of experience in editing.  He said, “You are certainly well qualified for this position,” and sent my email address to the person over the Feedback Response Team.  Now, I need to fill out forms, and set up interviews with my Bishop and Stake President.  When all is approved, my bishop will set me apart

I hope that my service will be a blessing to our family and be a good example to our children and grandchildren.  I hope it will help our son return to the Gospel light.  I wonder if it will influence our non-member family and friends.  I feel it is right for me to serve at this time

It has been exciting and a little scary to leave my comfort zone.  It has taken courage to call and offer my talents to the Church.  I have been humming, “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” all week.
I do want to further the Lords work. I do want to serve a mission.  I’m grateful that people who must stay home can still serve. I’m sorry that my health prevents us from serving a full time mission, but there is much that Garrett (when he retires) and I can do to serve here.  I know that writing is what I have been prepared to do, and this is how the Lord wants me to serve.  I look forward to becoming a Missionary Mom!

(This was written in July of 2010. I served as a Responder on LDS.org for six years. It was a wonderful experience. Serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a great privilege and blessing to me. )

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Nearly Lost at Sea!

It all seemed so simple. My brother, Jim, and I would sail our 12 foot sailboat around Treasure Island, the small island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Jim was 14 and I was 16. Jim and I had been sailing on lakes for a few years and looked forward to a fun adventure. When my Dad, the Supply Officer on the Naval base on Treasure Island, helped us get the boat into the water, we confidently made plans to meet in about half an hour back at the boat ramp.

So on that sunny, summer afternoon, Jim and I happily began our little sail. At first, all seemed well as we waved goodbye to Dad and sailed out into the bay. Since we were going to closely hug the coast of the island, we turned the rudder to bring us around the island -- nothing happened!! We tried to stay calm as we took turns paddling, but no matter what we did, we were slowly drifting out to sea.

I remembered that the island prison Alcatraz was considered escape proof because of the sharks in San Francisco Bay, so swimming was definitely out.  We didn't have a radio. In fact, all we had was a very small sailboat with one paddle in a very large bay.

Hours passed. It became cool and the water was getting a little choppy. No longer were we near the safety of the little island. The current had pulled us into the shipping lanes. I turned pale as a large Portuguese freighter approached us. We desperately waved hoping for help. They smiled and waved back. I felt doomed envisioning us lost at sea in the night fog. As I began to despair, we heard the sound of a motor boat engine. It was Dad! When we weren't back in half an hour, Dad convinced a man on Treasure Island to take his boat out to find us.

Tired, and quiet, we rode back to Treasure Island in the motorboat with our sailboat in tow behind us. Having found a new respect for the strong currents of San Francisco Bay,  I felt so grateful to have only been "nearly" lost at sea.