Ten years before he died, my dad wrote his memoir, which is one of my prized possessions. Recently celebrating Memorial Day reminded me of the service of my dad and uncles. None were lost in the war, but many of them served in WWII. My dad was number ten of eleven children. Stuck in age between Dad and his youngest brother, Frank, was his nephew, Kenneth, who was like another brother to him. Older brothers included Harold and Bill, who play a part in this excerpt from Dad’s memoir. Dad, Arkansas born and Oklahoma raised, was temporarily at McClelland Field near Sacramento, CA, in early 1943.
From the Memoir of Raymond E. Boyd (1923-2005):
About this time of life, I got wind that Frank and Kenneth were at a base near Riverside, California. Thinking that it would be a good time to see them, I wrangled a weekend pass, and as soon as it became valid, Friday at noon, I ate a bite and glommed onto it.
It was around 400 miles down to Riverside. Hitchhiking was good back in those days, so I figured I could make it to where Harold was working at Long Beach by ten o’clock.
I got to Long Beach at eight the next morning. That was one long night, and I was hungry and tired. I had five pennies in my pocket. I wasn’t one to go around packing a lot of money. Exchanging them for a nickel, I called the number where Harold was supposed to be working, and the person who answered said he had gone to see his brother in Riverside. Well, there went my last nickel. I had been there before, but not so far from home. With no other choice, I turned east and started riding my thumb again.
I arrived at the main gate of the base where Frank and Kenneth were stationed around noon. I didn’t have a watch, didn’t need one. The Air Corp told me when, where, and how to make every move I made. So you can see where that would have been extra weight to carry around.
A T-5 with a forty-five on his hip was tending the gate. I whipped out my ID and the weekend pass, and he waved me through. No sooner had I turned around when I saw two civilians and two GIs coming toward me. I was awake enough to recognize them. Harold, Bill, Frank, and Kenneth had met me at the gate, and they didn’t even know I was coming to visit. Glory Be. With ten- to twenty-thousand people at the base, they were the first ones I saw after entering the gate.
They were going out to eat. I was all for it. Harold or Bill picked up the tab, and I didn’t even argue. As a matter of fact, I borrowed a five from one of them to get back to Sacramento. I don’t remember paying it back.
I was too groggy to remember what we did the rest of the day and night. That was one long weekend.
Within a month, Frank went to England, Kenneth went to India, and Bill was drafted. I went to Fresno.
Dad was sent to Guam and was there when the war ended. He returned to the states, married my mom, and started a family. He was later recalled during the Korean conflict; I was a toddler when he landed at an Air Force base in Lubbock, Texas. Thanks, Dad, for your service.
Dad wrote his memoir because some friends of mine gave him their old computer when they got a new one. Determined to learn how this confounded new contraption worked, Dad practiced the old typing sentence: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. I suggested he write some stories about his life, and this new project quickly gained legs, as Dad would say.
Without that old computer and dot-matrix printer, Dad would never have written his memoir. Amazing what that hand-me-down gift from the Kelloughs gave to Dad…and to his family.
A side note: Paraphrasing Robert Lewis Stevenson, true friends are a gift we give ourselves. Bill Kellough, who has known our son Marshall all his life, is now a Tulsa County judge, and he’ll officiate at Marshall’s wedding to Abby Tomlinson in a couple weeks.