A New House on Newhouse Avenue
Paul Marion Fleetwood
Copyright 2013 by Paul Marion Fleetwood
I was very homesick and lonely too. It was 1953 and I was in the Air Force twelve hundred miles from home. My outfit, the 125th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, was stationed at Ethan Allen Air Force Base just outside Winooski Vermont. It was boring and it was cold.
Our original mission was to erect a radar site in the far North of Canada on the so called DEW line to provide early warning for Soviet Bombers coming in across the North Pole area. But somehow the mission never got started so we marched and marched. We were sick of marching and waiting for something to happen.
In the meantime I was living from letter to letter. My fiancee back in St. Louis wrote to me almost every day. She was still in High School and too young for us to get married. Besides we didn't think we could afford to get married anyway. So I struggled on while missing her very much.
Then BOOM!! the unexpected happened. She wrote me a "dear John". She said she was too young and too lonely to sit at home and not go out with the other kids. And she was probably right to think that way. So I just kind of passed it off with the thought; well there are plenty of fish in the sea.
But that just didn't work. The more I thought of it the worse I felt. So I thought, well I will just go down to the "Old Mill" a local pub in Winooski Vermont and drown my sorrow in a few glasses of beer.
When I got to the pub, some of the fellows were there and so was the first Sargeant. After a few beers I told Sarge that I had to go home to tend to some personal matters. He laughed at me and told me to forget it. But by now I was getting pretty high and I told him that I was going "over the hill" if I had to.
Then I did a stupid thing I guess although I don't even remember what I said. I called my girl in St. Louis and she told me later that I threatened her and frightened her. It was the beer talking because I would never hurt her.
The next day when I woke up and had time to think about the situation I knew I could not let her go without a fight. So I went to see the commanding officer of our Squadron to ask for a furlough even though I didn't have any leave time earned.
My Commanding Officer was Captain Flint who had been a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II. He was regular Army at that time when the Air Force was still the Army Air Corp. As a result he was a very G.I. no nonsense soldier.
I told him I needed to go home on emergency leave to take care of some personal business. He asked me if I had any leave time coming and I said no. He asked me if the Red Cross would approve an emergency leave and I had to admit that they wouldn't.
He wanted to know why I needed to go but I would only tell him it was a personal matter but that it was very important.
Finally I told him that he better put me in the brig because if he didn't I was going to go AWOL. He pondered this for a long time but finally he picked up the phone and called the adjutant and told him to give me a ten day leave.
I thanked him and left for St. Louis as quickly as I could. That was a long time ago and I can't remember just how I got home that time but I did.
The first thing I did when I got to St. Louis was look up an old buddy who had an old jalopy of a car and asked him to drive me to Shirley's house. He did and I knocked on the door. Her dad opened the door and didn't act too happy to see me. I think she told him that I had threatened her.
I asked him where she was but he wouldn't tell me. At first he said he didn't know but I finally got out of him that she went out with one of her girl friends.
I knew most of her girl friends and I knew who had been her closest friend so I decided to go to her house. But I didn't know her address. I kind of knew the general area of North St. Louis where she lived but most of the houses and streets look pretty much alike.
So we drove around the neighborhood and finally stopped where I thought we might be getting close to where she lived. Her girl friend didn't have a phone but she had an unusual name. She was Garnita Christian.
It was getting dark so I got out of the car and sort of meandered down the sidewalk when two old ladies came walking out of a gangway between the brick buildings. As they walked past me I asked them "ma'am do any Christians live around here?". And as silly as that question sounded one of them shot back "oh yes, they just bought a new house over on Newhouse Avenue".
Well whether it was coincidental or providential I will never know for sure but it sure seemed providential to me. I went over on Newhouse and sure enough she was there at the Christian house visiting her friend and with just a little persuasion she left with me and after a few hundred hugs and kisses everything was back to normal again. Mission accomplished.
Not long afterwards we got married but that is another story. Fifty five years, four kids, and eleven grandkids later we are still married. Life is amazing!!
Oh yes, when I got back to base Captain Flint had been shipped overseas to Korea and I never saw him again. I did hear later that he wrote a letter to our new C.O. asking if I had gotten things straightened out back home. I said to him "tell Captain Flint I sure did and I salute you sir"!!!
final note. I am still good friends with the girl with an unusual
name who is now known simply as Chris. I salute her too!!
Paul's Storylist and Biography
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