New Old Story
Barbara told me I needed some new stuff in my blog. Here is an old story told again as if it were new:
As Field Artilleryman, our home school is the US Army Field Artillery & Missile School located at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Even the Marines train their cannoneers at Fort Sill and their officers go through the Basic Officers Training for Gunnery there. I could go on for hours about the advantages of blowing the hell out of Oklahoma, but a lot of that is attitudinal not realistic.
During the early months of 1967, I spent 23 weeks there undergoing the Officer Candidate School (OCS) Training and I find it difficult to erase the term harassment out of the colorful descriptions of the place. This is a report of one trip there and some of the shenanigans to and during that trip. I will admit that due to the amount of time between the actual events and now, some of the facts might be embellished a bit. I might even be accused of adding an event or two to the fun and I'm sure that some of the names will be left out to protect the guilty. The innocent are on their own.
Very little of what passes for education at Fort Sill is not conducted in a class room with strict rules and examinations to ensure the students understand the concepts and are able to replicate the accuracy of the howitzer firing required on the modern battlefield. This is the one exception that I know of. As the battlefield from Vietnam was changing to a focus back on the European battlefield, they felt the need to discuss the changing tactics and techniques. They called this a Field Artillery Refresher course. It was a week long instructional period and the time spent there was not tested.
Several of my Fellow Officer friends lived in Lawrence and Topeka and I had a Station Wagon just ready and willing to make the trip to Lawton, Oklahoma down the Kansas Turnpike and then down through Oklahoma City. I was a Battery Commander and several of my Lieutenants were in one car families and we agreed to carpool. I lived in Leavenworth Kansas and it was just a good trip to come down through Lawrence and the over to Topeka to pick up the guys.
I started to realize my mistake when one of the earliest passengers came out to the car with a cooler. Being one of the boys, I had listened to the slosh of ice and beer in a cooler during prior occasions and was not in the dark about the contents of the cooler. We drove over to Topeka to pick up a couple of the other guys and headed south west down the turnpike to "Soonerville."
The trip to Fort Sill was about 6 hours (without potty halts or meals) and on the turnpike, the service areas are scattered out at intermittent distances that in most cases coincide with the normal bladder capacities. Did I mention the cooler of beer? There is no relationship to normal when you include the consumption of intoxicating beverages. When the "Bladder Warning Light and the alarm that goes Pee-Pee-Pee sounds off", it is time to stop.
Did I mention that we were a bunch of National Guard Officers and our convoys often stop along the road for "rest halts" (Being often in the middle of "no and damn where" you would just stand close to the trucks and "Potty in the grass.") I'm sure that many parents also play that game when they have small boys.
In many circles there is a rule that we don't drink until after noon. The corollary to that rule is that it is more often than not after noon somewhere. So, a bunch of normal guys started drinking about the time we left Topeka. Being the designated driver, I also joined in. You must remember that back in the day, the designated driver was the guy that owned the car not some totally sober person that did not consume for the remainder of the period.
About an hour south of Topeka was the Emporia rest area and we made it to that destination with room to spare and we piled out to go to the rest room like normal people. I am not sure where it hits you, but I am one of those people that reach equilibrium about the third beer. From then on, if I put one in, I must stop and deposit one in the porcelain goddess or a nearby place. I think that we made The rest area at Matfield Green or Eldorado but after that it started to get kind of fuzzy. I remember thinking that south of Wichita there is a stretch where there just wasn't anything but a tree line along the turnpike.
Sure enough, we made a stop and there was a tree line and most of the guys used it. The next stop just south of the State Line into Oklahoma was just a halt along the road and we didn't care where the damned trees were. I'm sure the cars honking at us were just sharing the celebratory moment we were having in urinating on Oklahoma soil.
When we got to Oklahoma City, we had to draw straws to see who was sober enough to drive the rest of the way down the Cimarron Turnpike to Lawton. We did eat lunch but I was not in a condition to eat enough to sober up enough to drive the remaining two hours. I think there was one guy that really didn't drink much and he drove the next leg of the trip. Did I mention that it was the Cimarron Turnpike and they really didn't have rest areas? I'm sure that we had to pull a potty halt at least once more.
We arrived at Fort Sill and checked into our rooms in the Bachelor Officer's Quarters (BOQ) in the towers. They were single rooms and we all had our own bathrooms. I'm sure that several of the guys agreed to meet for dinner later and I took a nap. Yes it was one of those naps where you had to wake up about every half hour and pee. The good news is I could go right back to sleep and I had stopped wetting the bed years before.
We all met downstairs and there was a lot of noise coming from what had been the day room in the BOQ earlier. Lo and behold, it had been converted in to an annex of the Officer's club called the Blade and Wing. They had hamburgers, fries and Beer! Instead of risking a trip into Lawton, we settled into a table there and I'm sure killed a few more brain cells with pitchers of Budweiser.
I don't remember all the details of the next day where we sat in comfortable seats and listened to the new doctrine of the Field Artillery and how it is to be applied. What does stand out in my memory was Tuesday night when we decided to go into Lawton, Oklahoma and see what evils were to be had there. Like most towns near a Military Post, there was a series of easy loans, pawn shops and strip bars. No one needed a loan or had anything to pawn so we decided to see how the events would unfold (or undress)
Not to be evasive, but I really don't remember what the name of the bar we went to is or was. back in the day most of the guys smoked and we seemed to drink beer rather than mixed drinks. Most of the time we would order a pitcher of beer and glasses for each one of us. The system pretty much developed that we took turns buying the beer and I don't remember anyone hollering that I was pulling rank and not paying my share.
The highlight of that night was watching the girls dancing and stripping. The only one that I can remember was the one that waddled out on stage naked and carrying her clothes. She was by far the least attractive girl in the bar. As soon as she showed up, the sound of "Put it On" was shouted throughout the bar. All evening the crowd was eagerly wanting the girls to take it off and here the exact opposite was taking place. She walked around the stage and told everyone that she would be out there naked until she saw the color of money on the stage. She also said that she didn't want any of that damned chump change, she wanted real green money. Our delay in putting green on the stage would delay the other girls from appearing. Soon the dollars flowed and she started putting on her clothes. I don't think we laughed that hard any time else during that trip. It was a hoot.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. It costs exactly what you pay for it.