Growing up with Dad in the military was just a natural thing for me and my siblings. Even if Dad wasn’t stationed at the same place we lived. That happened twice in my Dad’s career in the Air Force. Once when I was young and the other time was when I had already grown up and moved to another town on my own, to go to college. Right after I completed the 2nd grade in Colorado Springs, my Dad was sent overseas to be in the Vietnam War. I was still too young to really understand the gravity of the year-long “sentence” for my Dad. All I knew was my Dad wasn’t going to be with us for a year and we all had to go move somewhere, besides the Air Force Academy, while he was gone. My parents decided that the family would go live in West Texas, where both of my parents grew up. It was familiar territory and now, looking back…it would make it easier on my mother.
Big Springs, Texas it was. This was where my Dad grew up and it also had an Air Force Base (Webb) where we could take advantage of military prices and military health options and many other military benefits! So, for the 3rd grade only, I went to school at Kentwood Elementary in Big Springs. Living on Cindy Lane was pretty uneventful and 3rd grade was pretty uneventful too, apart from some guy in my class named Noel who had a crush on me and I thought he was just well…ugly…so I didn’t like him. I look back now and think what a horrible person I must have been just to not like someone because they were ugly.
But it was nice to live in the same town as my Mamaw and Papaw Reaves. I really got to know them much better and began appreciating what they had to offer me in my life. Although this was the time Papaw was just hanging on with his life that had been full of smoking which had ruined his lungs. But he was still alive and even though I was young, I knew it was near the end. I learned allot from my Mamaw during this time too and began to really appreciate her fantastic cooking. I will always remember the great games we played in the living room at Mamaw and Papaws’ house and the fantastic air conditioner that was in the living room where I would stand in front of and let it blow my hair forward while cooling me down after playing in the hot West Texas heat.
When I was in the 3rd grade I also starting reading and writing fairly good, for a 3rd grader anyway. I would write my Daddy letters and put them in an envelope and put that 5 cent stamp on the envelope and send them to him at the base where he lived in Pleiku, Vietnam. Those were the first letters I wrote. But the best part was receiving letters from Daddy. My Dad had 4 kids and 1 wife and he would write letters individually to us throughout the year he was gone. Getting a letter from him was so exciting. He would personalize them and remember everything from other letters I had written to him. I so wish I had realized the importance of those letters, because I must have just thrown them away after a while and today I wish I had every single one of them. Love you Daddy!