I went back into the front hallway today to start work on the family archives. The hallway was where I stashed all the papers and photos back in August when I couldn't look at them any longer because of all the dead people looking back at me. They've been sitting there in their boxes and folders ever since, silently admonishing me every time I walk by them. And so today, I just grabbed a stack of the stuff and brought it to the scanner. It's a jumble of stuff. Yellowed and stained letters from commanders to our proud parents announcing our promotions, awards, etc. Newspaper articles saved by our proud parents that are now so brittle as to be scarcely readable. Some of it is even crap that needs to be thrown into the recycling bin.
Amongst the old employee evals in one stack (finally throwing that crap away!), I found a copy of The Spokesman I had saved from August 1979. The Spokesman was the official magazine for the men and women in Air Force Security Service, the organization that Bill and I belonged to when we were on active duty. In 1979, I did not yet know Bill. In those days, it was just me and Josh and Berinda, and we had been the proud owners of a 1969 VW Bug. It had carried us from Monterey CA to Homestead FL in 1977, with my grandmother riding in the backseat and a good many of our worldly belongings on the roof rack.
After about a year in Florida, things just started going wrong. It started with four new tires I bought at Wards. Less than a mile from the store one of them flew off the front and bounced off an oncoming car, and then bouncing from one windshield to another in a strip mall parking lot before rolling through the plate glass window of a Chinese restaurant. Sure wish I had known a lawyer in those days!
Some time after that, the bug developed a leak in the gas tank. The environmental issues aside (this was Florida and every drop of gas went directly into the water table), we were also in the middle of an energy crisis. It was affecting everyone, and was reflected on the cover of this particular issue of The Spokesman:
I was a single parent with two kids living on an E-4 salary until I was promoted early that summer of 1979, and for a time we qualified for and took advantage of food stamps. When I considered carefully whether or not we could get by without a car, and without the expenses that were associated with it (I can't believe we complained about gas prices in 1979 -- I would love to pay those prices again), I decided that we could get by with an alternative form of transportation. My commander thought it was a hoot and he was also looking for a way to get some recognition for his little unit in south Florida, so he submitted the following article for the magazine.