Last week on Thursday we were in our usual after dinner/after ballgame/after meeting, at home spots. Dale (my husband) was in his recliner and I was on the couch. The television was on but I really don't know what was playing. I would venture a guess neither of us could remember what we had for lunch the day before.
All of a sudden Dale said, "47 years ago Saturday, I left going into the Army." It was Jan. 26, 1966. Vietnam was in full swing and the military was using the draft to call up young men to serve. Dale was not surprised when he was called for service.
We have been married 45 years and during all those years Dale has had a better memory than I have. If I want to recall a time when something took place, he usually can pinpoint it for me. I can remember if it was summer or winter when an event happened, but I can never be sure about the exact day.
Dale started reminiscing about leaving home and how strange it felt knowing he was leaving and would not be coming home at the end of the day. Dale is the youngest of four boys born in the Blaylock family, and they were always close. I know it was difficult for him to leave home.
Like so many other young people, I'm sure he dreamed about leaving the cotton fields for greener pastures, but I don't think the Army is what he had in mind.
Okay, if I remember correctly, I was gone on a choir trip the day he left for the Army. I was still in high school. I knew he had been called to report for the second time, but I really thought he would come home before he was sent to basic training; however, the Army had a different schedule.
He finished his training in Fort Polk, La., went to AIT school in Baltimore, Md., and then on to Vietnam for a year. In those days, unless you wanted to make the Army a career, you were obligated for two years of active duty, two years reserves, and two years of inactive duty. In some cases after serving in Vietnam for a year, the soldiers had four years of inactive reserves.
It was a different time then. We communicated through letter writing. I wrote most every day and he was good to write when he had time. When school was out for the summer, the rural mail carrier would tease me when I would be waiting at the mailbox.
Toward the end of his year tour, Dale bought two small tape recorders (small for that time but large compared to what we have today) and we sent back and forth a few audio tapes.
We did not have the means to call often on a telephone or the computer with the cameras to keep in contact. I really appreciated today's technology when my son and his family were stationed in England and we could actually talk and see each other. I know it is not like being home, but I am sure it helps the military families today to be able to stay in touch.
Evidently leaving for the Army left a lasting impression on my husband as a date he will never forget.
We all have a few memories that stay with us but for the life of me, except for my wedding day or the days my children were born, I have to use phrases like, "it was near the end of January," or "it was the summer of 1970." Dates and names do not stay in my memory bank. I am good with faces but too many times names leave me. Sometimes in an hour or even the next day, the name I was trying to think of will pop into my head. I can only hope I don't get worse.