Friday, April 25, 2014

Part III of Still More As We Continue Our Good Life In England

As our life on the Coast  Road rolled on we had more good times and loved the way we lived and all of the things around us.  But, as with any military assignment, things are fraught with change, folks you served with rotate home, move on for a host of reason.  We were no exception, our reason for being in England was to fulfill an all weather nuclear commitment to NATO and the US.  We did that in several ways that ranged from sitting alert in the on Base alert facility on a 24 hours a day schedule with an immediate launch response.  While there we would study our adversary, we studied the beginnings of the cold war Communist movement in the Soviet Union, learned a little Russian, preflighted the aircraft and made sure we were ready for launch.  Or, we fulfilled a 24 hour a day response from anyplace on the Base.  We could shop, go to movies, entertain, and live our normal life at home but the hooker was you had to always be ready to go.  Usually this lasted for about six weeks then we had a week off.  To achieve this, the Wing required a predetermined number of combat ready crews to live on base and to always be at the ready.

Well our time had come and we were ordered to move onto the Base to meet this requirement--this had both good and not so good connotations.  With the move, Rose would always be secure and I could be home from work in minutes rather than an hour and she wouldn't have to carry coal and paraffin (kerosene) to heat the house.  The down side was we had to leave our home on the Coast Road and reside in a traditional English Row House.  There were two types of homes that we, the crew members, were assigned to. They consisted of what was called tobacco housing which was a modern ranch type home and then the traditional RAF (Royal Air Force) home.  While adequate, it was small and by American standards not so good.  On Base housing was assigned by rank and family size--guess what a First Lieutenant with one child gets assigned to--you guessed right we were to live in RAF housing. This was now our abode, 36 Lancaster Crescent.  See the black dot in the second story window, that meant that I was home and ready to respond to any requirement. 
As with any situation life throws at you, we made it into one of the most enjoyable experiences available in my memory bank.  Our neighbors across the street were Jim and Betty Stoneburner who through the years have been our best friends.  Jim was more like a brother and Betty was family too.  As time and events turn, things, people and places have a way of molding one's life and lasting memories.  This was one of those life events that resulted in Jim and Betty being a centerpiece in the formation of memories and relationships never to be duplicated.   Jim and Betty became neighbors more than once and as Air Force life often did  they once again lived across the street while we server at McGuire AFB in New Jersey (this was after Jim finished Boot Strap, a college completion program) but the New Jersey life is another story and chapter in our life.  More on that chapter later. 
Once we moved on Base we were able to open our social acquaintances and became close to a group of friends consisting of on Base couples who enjoyed friendship and parties.  The years have faded some of the names but several still remain within my grasp.  Of course there was Jim and Betty, Art and Alice Jepson (Art was died in Viet Nam in the Bien Hoa B-57 explosion), then there was Don and Shirley Walterhouse, and it's here that my memory starts to fade and I have blanks in name relocation--I think there was Harry and Evie Osbun and now a blank.  Nevertheless we all enjoyed each other in the social realm.

As I have previously eluded to, our life was different and full.  It was fun and we lived it to the fullest.  When we had the week free from alert duties we almost always went to London for a few delightful days.  The Columbia club was the Officers Club and hotel in the London area--we were able to purchase theater tickets there at a discount and the room rates were a bargain and although not always the best accommodations they were great for us--we were rarely in the room other than to crash for a few hours and to change clothes in between walks in the park, the Tower of London,
shopping and of course the watering hole (bar).  We were obviously Yanks and relished the encounter with the Ban the Bomb parades and all that those times in London could offer.  One that I clearly remember was an evening at the Elizabethan Room, a restaurant that was period oriented and served the cuisine of the period.  As the evening crowd arrived they would be assigned different roles as the ruling royalty and greeted all those who arrived after you did.  Unlike our normal pattern, we arrived early and therefore were able to greet all with a "Drink Hale Wassail" and down the Mead and Claret---we were really early and we toasted with vigor.  Rose was wiser than I and I suffered and will never forget the taxi ride to the hotel, need I say more.  I will never forget that nite nor will I ever make the same mistake again, should have known better at the ripe mature age of 27. 

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