That's me in the middle, with glasses!
While in basic training, time seems to go slow and yet when it's over, I was amazed at how fast it went by.
Basic lasts six weeks. At the end of the six weeks, some people go onto additional training while others go directly to their permanent assignment. We also discover what field we've been assigned. I was to become a medic, as it was called then. I found out that I would be sent to Shepperd AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas, for additional training.
Before I leave for my journey to Shepperd, I want to comment on the very top picture. You remember me telling you that there wasn't much time to spend on how one looked, well now maybe you will understand that was an understatement. Even though the group only spent six weeks together, there is a bonding, and though I never met the girls again, during that brief period of time, we were friends. Sharing a moment in letting go of childhood and heading toward our own paths.
During the sixties, traveling by bus was the usual way of traveling. The two bus lines used most frequently were Greyhound and Trailways. I can't remember which one I used. People heading in a similar direction had tickets together. At each stop, some got off and headed to their final destination. I remember the trip, vaguely. I sat by the window and watched the scenery pass by, the oil wells, which I saw for the first time. For someone coming from Alabama, a land with many mountains and hills, the flatness of Texas was a sight in it's self . As a matter of fact, while at Shepperd, I was in a sand storm. I remember someone saying, "The sand storm came down from Oklahoma, because the only thing between them is a barbed wire fence. So there's nothing to stop the sand blowing in".
The additional training was for those who hadn't any work experience or needed some more to accent the experience already in place. Mine was the first. The only work experience I had was that of being a waitress and working out in the fields planting, chopping and gathering the crops. I think I was somewhat naive, everything was new, some things I saw and experienced for the first time.
During basic training, the days were filled with classes, learning rules, shedding the high school mentality and learning how to be somewhat independent. That is, coming to realize how to make decisions without gaining approval from a parent or teacher. We had to get use to thinking a task through and choosing a path of our own, right or wrong. We couldn't depend on a backup from Mom and Dad. It was scary and exhilarating at the same time. Now the next step was to go even further with who we were. At tech school, more freedom of choice was handed out. It was like from seven till five we were following Air Force time, but we were allowed to clock out at five and have a semblance of a private life.
During Air Force time there were training classes, such as learning how to give shots, the anatomy of the body, how to change beds and bedpans. There was a whole glossary of medical terms to learn. How to read doctors orders, how to draw blood and put in a catheter. Yet there was also time to get into trouble.
The one incident that stays in my mind is, in any group you have those who question most things. These same people have a tendency to act without thinking. It was after six in the evening, but before lights out. Doors to our rooms stood open, most of us were in our pajamas, hair in curlers, similar to the above picture. I don't remember why one of the girls had a hammer and for some reason we were walking down the hallway, apparently looking for something, because she reached over and opened a janitorial closet. As she stood there with us standing behind her, she looked up and asked, "I wonder what that is up there", and reaching up with the hammer, hit a silver spigot hanging down from the ceiling. Suddenly, water sprayed down on us, drenching us, we tried to get away from the falling water, turning and racing down the hall yelling and screaming, "How do you turn this thing off? And what is it for?"
Our answer came with firetrucks pulling up outside the barracks, lights flashing, sirens blaring, men jumping off pulling long firehoses, racing into the building, some running up the stairs, while others ran through the first floor, but all were asking, "Where's the fire"?
When all had died down, I still don't remember the water being turned off, the group of us that were involved had to do a lot of explaining. Our commander wasn't happy, I believe we lost a few privileges that night and faced a lot of grumbling girls who had lost their sleep. But that wasn't the end of the event.
In order to prevent such a thing from happening again, the fire department got revenge. A few nights later, the whole barracks was awakened with the yelling of "Fire, fire, fire!" It was called a fire drill, but we all knew it was payback for the false alarm we had caused earlier in the week. Of course our commander was in on it as she was fully dressed. We, on the other hand, stood there in our pj's, face cream and lovely hair curlers. What is that old saying, "Payback is hell on earth".