Short People Stories Part 2.

When I came home from Vietnam, the last thing I wanted to do was to wear a uniform or even think about wearing one. I do remember being in the restroom at the Campus Activity Center at Wichita State University and having a guy run in and tell me they were going to burn a flag in protest.  I told him that it damned sure had to be his flag because it would piss me off dearly if it was my flag.  He dashed out of there like his pant leg was on fire.  I read about the protest the next day in the paper.  Sure enough they burned an American Flag in protest of the War in Vietnam.  I would probably just gotten arrested if I had gone out there.  At the time it seemed to be a good cause to have an arrest like that on my record.

I transferred to KU between my sophomore and Junior year.  The wife had taken a job teaching in Leavenworth and It seemed pretty appropriate for me to go with her.  Those were some fun times in the Pin Oak Apartments there on the South east side of Leavenworth.  I met a bunch of cool people there and my favorite was Tom.

Tom was a little older than I was but generally we had a lot in common.  He went to College and I went to Vietnam.  His choice after graduation was to join the Army as a Bandsman and play the clarinet.  He started his career at Fort Leavenworth in the band and that was where I met him.   Late at night I could hear him practicing his licks on his stick and it was so cool to listen to it.  I met him walking his schnauzer one day and we hit up a good relationship.  I went to Lawrence every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  On Tuesday and Thursday, Tom would go to the fort for a short practice and then come home.  We would put on our PT gear and go back to the fort to play Basketball for a couple of hours.  Tom was as good at basketball as he was with the clarinet and we played a lot of good ball.  I wasn't that good on the outside but I could get in the middle and fight for the ball.  Besides, beer tastes so great after a hard couple of hours of basketball.  We would stop by the liquor store and get a six pack for lunch.  I am pretty sure that an afternoon nap was taken from time to time.

Tom was a little older than I was and had wife also.  I think they were starting out try to get their family started and I don't blame him for loving his wife.  She was Jerri, yes like Tom and Jerry but they were way cooler than the cartoon.  I think a lot of couples find a person that is almost opposite of themselves.  Tom was quiet and Jerri was the life of the party.  We loved to visit with them and I guess that we grew up in a lot of the same ways.  I don't think our parents were so poor that we missed many meals but we weren't rich by any standard. 

The funniest story was the time I went to visit Tom and Jerri opened the door and said, "Do you want to see my tits?"   All I could think to say was, "is Tom home." Sure, come in here and see all the tips I made at Fort Leavenworth last night.  Spread out on the table was a pile of coins and dollar bills she had been given as a waitress at the officer's club the night before.  Yes, she said do you want to see my tips and being just a little hard of hearing, my mind made up it's own words.  Dang, I hate it when that happens.  There I was set to have my own Penthouse letter and I was wrong.

Tom went to Germany to play in a band there and Jerri went with him for the first part of his tour.  The exchange rate as pretty good and for the most part they were having a lot of fun.  Somewhere about half way through his tour the exchange rate made a dramatic turn and Jerri had to go back to McGregor, Iowa to live with her parents.  By then they had two little girls and I'm sure that she would have been welcome with those two bundles of joy. 

Living next door to us was a couple that also had a dog.  I think I got to know people through their dogs.  For the most part the couple were pretty much like everyone else in the complex. Phil was a Guard at the Military Prison and she was at the time a housewife.  As they were getting ready to move, he asked me if I knew how to replace a door?  I went next door to see what the problem was and their dog had scratched up a lower portion of the door telling them that he needed to go outside.  I had a furniture scratch repair crayon and went over and covered the scratches.  It looked like a new door when I put the old spit and polish on it.  Saved him about $50. 

About a year later, I saw Phil walking out of the new Wal*Mart.  He looked pretty sad and I asked him what the problem was.  He said that he had reenlisted in the Army and with his reenlistment bonus had bought a house in Lansing.  His wife was working for Hallmark and had been injured in an industrial accident.  Based on his realtor's advice, they moved into a small apartment and he was just given orders for Germany.  He said they were at their wit's end that their debts were piling up and he really needed to get rid of the house payment.  I asked him where the house was and what did he need to get out of the house.

I drove over to the house and saw part of the problem.  When you opened the curtains in the living room you had a full view of the Kansas Prison in Lansing, Ks.  Barb and I had been discussing buying a house and other than the location it seemed to be a good house.  When we really set down with Phil and his wife they said they needed just a little more help than just to take over the payments.   They had signed up with some grocery buying club and they had been given a side by side refrigerator/freezer but still owed the club some money in that deal.  They also had a stove they were making payments on and needed to get out of that deal also.  I don't remember what the entire cost was but it was a great deal on the house and not a bad deal on the appliances.  We needed the appliances so everything worked out.  We bought that house and lived there for four or five years.  The couple that bought it still live there.  I am sure that today it is worth about $90,000 which is way up from the $18,000 we paid for it.

Oh well, better get on with the day. 


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