…. I have been reading with great pleasure about the new adventure that Holder & Richard’s son has just set out on… and I must say that I am very happy to see that he is passing through Marine Corps boot camp with flying colors… in his latest note home he is talking about his time at the rifle range… it certainly twangs the memory, folks…. especially since I’ve laid in the same sand as he… and that little experience, among many, many more things will make him my brother in a few weeks…..

… so, as is my wont these days, I’ve been digging through the dusty corridors of my graying-noggin for boot camp stories…

… last night I found an old James Taylor song that took me straight back to Parris Island and platoon 3072…. which, as luck would have it, is the same platoon in 3rd Battalion that Holder & Richard’s son is in…. albeit separated by 17 years….

…. It truly is funny what you remember when looking back over the span of nearly two decades… the time, of course, I was stressed, terrified, exhausted, sore, baked, sweaty, and completely out of my element… a scrawny, 17-year old freckled farmboy who probably weighed 145lbs soaking wet & who got sunburned at the drop of a hat….. but at other times – like now – I can see the humor, fun, frivolity, comradeship, and entertainment of that long ago June, July, and August…

… I also remember that it was one of the first times that I was absolutely and completely alphabetized….

…. I was bunked – on the top bunk – with a Slabberkorn below me and Ryan and Shaver to my left.... and Smith and Stokes to my right…. and a few bunk beds away lay a North Carolina boy named Tart….

…. I remember him as having large, round blue-eyes…. and a pasty face that looked just that wee bit too swollen for the rest of his body…. and full lips that gave his shaved-headed visage an almost cherubic expression….. but what I remember most is the night that I heard him singing…..

…. We were berthed on the top floor of an old red-brick building across the quarterdeck from the 3rd Bn chowhall….. I had managed to dodge the roaming firewatch, slip down from my rack, and was taking a piss out of the second-story window when I first heard him….. (no one dared to approach the heads after light’s out… and we’d been forced to drink three canteens of water just before bed…so hey, you gotta do what you gotta do)….

.... I’d just eased my y-fronts down and was in mid-flow when he began…. And at first, it scared the hell out of me…. it was low and soft, but he was in tune…. And by the time I’d made it back to my rack, I was enthralled by his singing… everyone else was asleep except for he, I, and the firewatch, I suppose, and I listened until his song was through and we both fell asleep….

… I tracked him down a few years ago via telephone and told him about me hearing him singing…. We laughed for a bit, but I think he was slightly embarrassed….. he’s now a state trooper somewhere in the wilds of deepest North Carolina, and I guess he has a tough-guy attitude to keep up with….. but for me, I don’t see it that way at all…… actually, looking back now, it was probably one of the most human things that I remember from my little vacation on Parris Island…... it was a moment of absolute honesty, terrible longing, and raw hope… all wrapped up in a beautiful song…. which, at the time, I am amazed that he could muster it – even in the alone-time darkness of a 2am squad bay....

…. It’s a bit like those John Prine lyrics from “Donald & Lydia” … “bunk beds, shaved heads, Saturday night….. a warehouse of strangers with 60-watt lights..” ……

….. anyway, I am rambling now…. and it is time for me to go and get dinner started…….. so I will leave you with the song that Recruit Tart was singing the night that I heard him…. A night that gave me a memory – a gift - that I’ll take with me everywhere I go…. forever….

by Eric on August 22, 2007 | Bullshit (13) | TrackBack (0) | Military Stuff
Bullshit So Far

Damn, damn, damn...that was some seriously good reads.

"...all wrapped up in a beautiful song..."

Sometimes it seems that life, the good parts and the bad, always are, and that's a very good thing, as it makes even the bad seem good.

Bullshitted by Erica on August 22, 2007 05:36 PM

In my view, anyone who has heard the playing of "taps" from his or her bunk and who has experienced the loneliness and aching for home has to relate to this post and to that song.

You sure as shit got my attention.

Bullshitted by Jimbo - PRS on August 22, 2007 07:36 PM

They say that smells take you back in memory but I think songs do. Sweet Baby James....

Bullshitted by LeeAnn on August 22, 2007 07:53 PM

That video reminds me of the time me and Puddyhead and some friends holed up at Beech Mountain for a week of skiing in 1978. With an ounce of Ecstasy and a pound of reefer. We took $2000 worth of stereo and set it up in the condo. But we were so fucked up we forgot to bring music. All we had was Taylor's Greatest Hits. Oh well! It rocked.

Bullshitted by Velociman on August 22, 2007 08:38 PM

That was beautiful...

Bullshitted by Jean on August 22, 2007 08:58 PM

What's the way I most often get to
Carolina... in my mind.

Bullshitted by RedNeck on August 22, 2007 09:00 PM

Like Jimbo said...

Bullshitted by That 1 Guy on August 22, 2007 10:01 PM

That's sweet and sentimental alright..except I always thought it was about a vag**a! Those crappy A.M. radios with one big speaker in the top of the dash full of gravel, "2-70" air...

Bullshitted by Bindersix on August 23, 2007 11:24 AM

Beautiful, Eric. As always...

Bullshitted by Richmond on August 23, 2007 01:46 PM

Put me right back in those 2 story barracks at Fort Polk, LA..1969
Army though, same hot months,... cooling brought to us by swamp coolers, and getting up 20 minutes before the DI came thru so we could get the coldest water from the fountain, then back before he caught us.
Great Memories.

Bullshitted by Kdzu on August 23, 2007 07:44 PM

I'm already there but heading to Myrtle Beach for the weekend I'll be singing all the way.

Bullshitted by ga on August 23, 2007 08:09 PM

Ryan to Shaver was a great first down passing play for the mid-60's Browns, usually followed by a big one up the middle from Jim Brown.

Bullshitted by Cappy on August 23, 2007 08:14 PM

Just think, I was pregnant with my son while you were listening to that song, at that very moment. I was probably wondering who my son would grow up to be, what he would look like, smell like, probably singing away away those sleepless nights. Or maybe I was sleeping quietly, while he dreamed of his future,
The world is a great place sometimes.

Bullshitted by Holder on August 24, 2007 05:35 PM