The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 61
This letter was saved for me by my mother who gave it to me shortly after I returned from the Korean War. As your can see, this letter was written pre-Korean War. The date was November 17, 1948. In early 1949 I was shipped out of Korea to Hokkaido, Japan.
I am finally home now after the war and almost out of the Army. They do not want to release me until I have served 3 years I signed up for and the one year Truman gave me because of the Korean War. The did let me have a 30 day leave before I had to report to Lawton, Oklahoma to be reassigned for my remaining few months.
It was sort of a whirlwind thing being home. Bob and his wife Edith were living in Morton and they said that I could stay with them. My folks lived in the back of the Main Street Drug Store just across the street from the Lubbock Court House. Not much room back there. I visited Morton some but not many friends left there. A friend of a friend, Steve Eckstein was going to take a trip to Searcy, Arkansas and he invited me along because he knew that before I entered the service I was seriously considering the ministry. We stopped the night in Oklahoma and spent time there with a friend of mine who had married a Graham, not related to me. Then we went to Searcy and Steve secured one of the dorm rooms for me. This dorm was virtually empty because it was summer session. He went his way and I got very bored looking at four walls. Also I was not used to the 11pm curfew they had in the men’s dorms but I did appreciate the no smoking regulation because I did not smoke at that time. I was not impressed with Harding and it was very expensive and I was not entitled to any GI Bill for educational purposes at that time.
This 30 day leave went by way too fast and before long I was at Lawton, Oklahoma. At Fort Sill the clerks tried to find a place that wanted a short term fellow. This was in June 1951 and I was due to be discharged in October. Well it turned out that over in Louisiana at Fort Polk they did need a clerk typist to help in the officers documents storage and updates. In a couple of weeks they put me and several other men on a bus to Fort Polk, Louisiana and dropped us off at Headquarters for processing.
They did let me have passes right away and I was able to start going to DeRidder, Louisiana with two of my new buddies, one of the few people on base who had a car. My job was very boring but I stuck with it and was insulted when the captain came to me one day and offered me an extra trip if I would re-enlist. I was also introduced to a de-segregated dining room. At that time I did not like coffee and at breakfast one morning I was eating with one of my friends who was black and he was drinking coffee. I embarrassed myself by making a comment to him “you better not drink too much of that coffee or it will turn you black”. I was trying to hide my red face under the table but he was kind to me and he said he understood.
One of the members of the church at DeRidder was a recovering alcoholic and he had a very nice wife who invited us to lunch frequently. He had an old Oldsmobile that he was trying to get rid of and I was looking for a vehicle that I could drive home when I was discharged. We made a deal and I bought my first wheels ever. I was so mad the last week of my stay at Fort Polk, La that I could spite fire. The top sergeant came around for inspection and he noted that I did not have anything on the shelf that was supposed to have my backpack and stuff on it. I had already checked that in because I was leaving in less than a week. I missed out on telling my friends at DeRidder a fond farewell because of his dumb actions. More reason not to reenlist!!!!
I pack my Oldsmobile on October 8, 1951 and I was out of there. I was in no hurry to get home some I planned to stop Dallas and attend the State Fair. I remember my folks went to that in 1936 and wanted to see why they abandoned me to take the trip. I was not disappointed. I stayed at the Adolphus Hotel and that was a neat experience. I did not want to drive in Dallas much at night so I took a bus to Fair Park. In leaving the venue I went out to catch a bus and could not remember which one I was supposed to take to get back to the hotel. I got on one but did not ask the driver where he was going and that was a mistake. He took me to the flats and then said everyone get off because he was taking the bus to the barn. I could see Downtown Dallas in the far distance so I took off on foot and after about two hours wound up at the Adolphus Hotel a very tired puppy. Went through some scary neighborhoods too. Morton, Texas here I come