My Best Date

In 1967, I was stationed at Fort Irwin, CA and in case you don't know where that is, it is in the middle of "No and Damn Where."  The only available women there were a couple of twin daughters of the Post Commander.  They were Jail Bait and I had no interest in finding myself on a permanent tour of the Displinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.  One night, one of the guys in our Bachelor Officer's Quarters (BOQ), Dick, was talking to a girl friend on the phone.  I asked him if it was the girl from his home town of the one from Barstow. 

He told me to shut my pie hole as they didn't know anything about the other one.  Oh, by the way this girl was from Barstow.  I asked him if she could set me up with a local girl for a date.  We worked out the details and I had a blind date for the next Friday.  My friend Dick and I met the girls for our date.  I am not sure if it was the length of time I had not been around a young lady, but Barbara was a cute petite brunette that was a lot like me and easy to talk to.  I think we went bowling and I fell in love with the little hop Barb had when she threw her bowling ball. 

A part of this story I have left out was that on Sunday of that weekend I was leaving for Panama to attend the Army's Jungle Warfare School at Fort Clayton.  Barb did accept a second date on Saturday night and I really don't remember what we did on that date.  What I did find out that her address was a mile west and a mile south of the Union Depot in Yermo.  It too was in the middle of now where. 

I left for Panama with a promise to call when I got back home.  After two weeks in the Jungle, I came home and was promptly put in the Hospital.  I came home with a case of Dengue Fever and had little control of the next week.  They ran test after test and had no clue what ailed me.  Finally one of the Doctors came to visit and said that there was nothing at Fort Irwin that would cause the symptoms I had.  I was just able to tell him that I had been in Panama and he immediately took me out of quarantine.  Dengue Fever, or Break Bone Fever is a disease that is epidemic in the jungle of Panama. It is a virus that feels a lot like terminal arthritis with a high fever.

Do the math, two weeks in Panama and another week in the hospital and it was a month between contacts with Barbara.   I am pretty sure that she had written me off as another adventure that went no where.  She was a little unfriendly when I got to talk to her at her job at the Marine Base near Yermo.  When I explained to her what had happened, she relented and agreed to go out with me that weekend.

I grew up in Kansas and had watched the Mickey Mouse club.  There was a lot of talk about Disneyland and I asked Barb if she would like to go there.  To my surprise she agreed to go there and we had a great day.   There was only one rule I had.  There was no riding on anything that went in circles fast or up and down real fast.  No tea cups or the Matterhorn for someone that had just spent a week or so in a Hospital bed.  What really did happen was that I got to meet a fine young lady with plans on what she wanted out of life.  She was going to finish her degree in Education, teach school and have a family.  The drive down to Anaheim was a good chance to talk. 

For a young guy who had no idea what he really wanted, it was very neat to find someone that was sure of what she wanted.  I had some experience planning in the Military but no idea that I should apply that planning to my life.  Had I not met her, I probably would have stayed in the Army until I was riffed out because I didn't have my degree finished.  Over the next few months, I grew to love that fine smart young lady and I had hopes of convincing her to marry me prior to going to Vietnam.

She agreed and we were married on February 11, 1968 at the Chapel of the Bells in Las Vegas, Nevada.   For the next 46 years, I have loved that fine lady and just like she planned. She finished her degree, taught school and we raise a family.   We are now retired and I would not change a thing about our life together.  The best Blind Date I ever had was the best thing that ever happened to me.


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