This is the first installment of what might be the first of many or perhaps the only "Military Memories" posting. That is, my somewhat fading remembrance of my U.S. Army Days in the early seventies.
(Ft Sam Houston TX - Early 70's) Greatest day of the week if you don't count Sunday. I did count Sunday so it was really the second greatest day but close enough to first to fill me with joy. It was about 1100 hrs and the barracks were pretty much empty. Just a few of us hanging around and it was a nice quiet day. I was laying on my bunk enjoying a book. If I remember correctly (And I might not be) it was The Death and Life of Harry Goth
Suddenly the sound of a truck stopping outside the barracks, one of the doors opening, a sargent, a stranger to all, appears and says (while jabbing his finger at everyone in the room), "You, you, you, you, you, you and you. Outside! Into the truck! The General's Wife wants a rock garden."
"What is this?" someone said. (It might have been me. I certainly thought it.)
"Look", said the sargent. "I don't like this any more than you do. The General's Wife got it in her head to have a cactus garden with a bunch of rocks. I got saddled with the job of getting a detail to gather the rocks. You got saddled with the job of being that detail. The sooner we get the rocks and drop 'em in her yard the sooner you can get back to your bunks."
At that point in our lives we did not know that we could sue the General's Wife nor that she was misusing government property (we G.I.'s) not to mention the destruction of the environment by having us take rocks from point A to point B. (The earth is still reeling from the impact. Watch AlGores movie, An Inconvenient Truth and he mentions this event in the middle somewhere). We were naive back then. Little did we know we were impacting the GLOBAL WARMING ISSUE.
So, as ordered, we climbed into the back of the deuce and a half truck. Made ourselves comfortable. (Thats a joke son!) and wished we were driving the damn thing so we could at least have an idea of where we were going.
So much for
Well, The truck finally stops in the middle of the Texas desert (which is what is Fort Sam Houston is mostly composed of). We climb out and the sargent explains that he doesn't want little bitty rocks but real good sized ones so the General's Wife can have a real good rock garden and no future soldier will have to come out into the middle of this God forsaken desert and get more of the damn rocks.
The way he said it we were doing this for our children's children...
So we started picking up rocks and throwing them into the back of the truck. Good sized ones like he said to get. Good Lord! We got into the spirit of the job. We did enjoy the sound of the rocks landing in the truck. Sometimes two guys would manhandle a rock up to the truck and it would take three of 'em to lift the sucker in. I, of course would supervise just to make sure they did it right.
Well! It didn't take long before all the loose big rocks were in the truck and then we took to digging and yanking a bit to get 'em out of the ground. Would have helped to have a crowbar but there were enough of the rocks that had edges a body could grab onto and yank 'em free then carry 'em to the truck.
I found a good size rock that was just like that. Sort of a corner I could grab onto and yank on and up it came easy as pie. (Not the kind of pie mom used to make. Maybe I should compare it to fruitcake...)
Only one difference from this rock and the few others I had snatched from Mother Earth (Gaia). This one had a few bugs under it that instantly started running in circles in the depression where the rock had once hidden them. I realized at this point I was disturbing the ecology of the desert and let the rock settle back to it's rightful place of being.
I knew then that we were doing wrong.
So I walked up to the sargent and explained to him in words he could understand how I felt about our rapine of Mother Earth (Gaia).
I said, "I quit!"
"What?" said the sargent?
"I quit! I'm not moving another rock!"
"You can't quit! You're in the Army!"
"Cum'meer! ... Lift up that rock!!!" I said and pointed to the exact one where I had disturbed God's creatures beneath it.
I said this with such authority that the man had no choice but to do my bidding. Even though he outranked me he lifted the rock, saw the nest of scorpions I had beheld and was not as gentle as I when he dropped it back on the half dozen or so scorpions. (We both failed to count them.)
"OK men! That's enough rocks for the General's Wife. Get back in the truck!"
I was so glad that the sargent had common sense. He too recognised that Mother Earth (Gaia) is not to be trifled with.
We rode in the back of the deuce and a half with our feet on the seats in case any of God's creatures similar to the nest of scorpions had ended up in the truck. No one dozed during the trip. Some of our lively discussion was about spiders as well as scorpions. We quickly but cautiously dumped the rocks in front of the General's Wife's house and rode back to the barracks with our feet still on the seats. Just in case...
Moral of this story: Don't hang around the barracks on Saturday morning!
Write in Cary Cartter for President in 2008
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