Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Vastly Different Era

My father was born in 1927 in among the rice fields and salt mines. It was a third world existence with no running water, no electricity and calesa pulled by a water buffalo and when the monsoons arrived, shallow bottom boats took them to town to buy supplies and back to their homes on bamboo stilts.

Given that he grew poor, he needed to find a way out of this drudgery. With the world in upheavel, he wasn't locked into shackles of rural poverty any longer and he leaped into the yet unknown life of a naval servant-a steward in 1946. He was sixteen when he decided to venture on his own.

That was not without difficulty because to gain entrance as a naval steward, perfect teeth were required. For his dental examination, he had his friend stand in for him. Still a child and thinking he had time before notification of a pass or fail, he had gone home to let his mother know his whereabouts. He also needed to overcome the fact that he was underage by a few years. With his friend's dental record of perfection, he was selected among the many. Fortunately for him the naval recruit officer walked through the unorganized throngs of potential recruits to find my father. It was Javert looking for Valjean and my father's friend slipped away at the last moment each time he came near. Luckily the man did not know who he was looking for. When my father after almost three days arrived to the recruitment camp the hunted became the hunter and Valjean found Javert. He showed the recruit administrator his forged birth certificate. He finally persuaded his brother in law when he visited his mother. His brother in law worked for the department of records. He was reissued his birth certificate thus overcoming being underaged. He was finally in! With his warship somewhere out in the middle of the pacific, my father was summoned by the ship's dentist. He sat in the chair with the cloth over his face muddling the overhead light. The dentist examined the molars, canines and incisors. Perplexed he examined the molars, canines and incisors again. Flustered, he examined the molars, canines and incisors again for the last time. He sounded annoyed when he had the nurse draft new dental records while mumbling something about incompetent knuckleheads.

He lived his first two decades with reckless adventure. When he was 18 he bought a convertible Oldsmobile that he didn't know how to drive. When he was nineteen he and his girlfriend were chased out of a Mississippi diner by racists-they couldn't catch him in his Olds! In his mid twenties he fell in love with a woman from Romania. He traveled the world as an impervious young man, he was having the time of his life.

Reminded me a bit of my father, although I am not sure he was so adventurous. He was a sheperd as a child, living on the mountain with 7 brothers and sisters. Enjoyed the story.
Their times are vastly different from our credentialed world. I suspect the sheep were treated far more humanely with your father than with the mechanized way we handle them today.

Thank you for visiting and sharing.
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