Monday, May 23, 2011

Perris Island

My brother walked into the principal's office in February of his senior year, fed up with a teacher, knowing he was going to fail her class. He was already 18, so he dropped out of school. The principal called my dad, afterwards, when Dan had left the building. Nothing then, my dad could do. He was angry and felt he could have talked Dan out of quitting. Dan enlisted in the USMC.
Several weeks later, loaded up the car and traveled south. Washington, DC, Goochland, VA to visit Dad's old army buddy- another story,- working our way to the land of Spanish moss and South of the Border! This little girl was very excited to see her big brother.
Dan had a tan, wore a khaki uniform and immediately took off his cap upon entering a building, showing off a white shaved head. He had that shy grin, that maybe underneath the toughness of being a Marine making it through boot camp, he was happy to see his mom and dad grinning with a little sister jumping.
Dan pointed out on a tour of the base, the fat camp and the skinny camp. Those recruits would take longer to graduate from boot camp. He showed us a hut they used for tropical training. I experienced the PX. My mom and dad were beaming.
The next day was the ceremony. Hundreds of young men in formation, the ones with glasses of the same style, stood in the field. We thought we were looking at Dan the whole time, but it was someone else wearing those standard glasses.
Then time for pictures. We always teased that Mom couldn't take a picture and as you can tell, she didn't get a good one of Dad, Dan and me. Dan was leaving the next day for Camp Lejune, I think. All I know the time was short to be with him and I felt sad. He was the last sibling to leave the home and I missed him. Who would introduce me to Vanilla cokes from Erickson's(anyone can get a cherry coke) or tell me stories or drive Mom and me to open houses, so the teacher could remember when she had him in 3rd grade, and he could stand in the distance.
About now if Dan read this it would be time to go. He never liked when my mom talked about his childhood. I'm sure my memory has made a few mistakes, as I was only 9, well,the day before my 9th birthday.
I know we were all sad, the long trip to SC and then the visit was over. Dad still had a lot planned after this. But seeing Dan was the highlight of this trip. It was always that way. We loved all we did, but seeing my sisters or my brother was the purpose of the trip.

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