A letter about nothing I could have written over 30 years ago.
Dear Friends and Family,
I’m trying to work up something good to write, but I am afraid it will be an “Aunt Helen” letter. I loved the hundreds of letters I got from her. She was a very faithful writer when I was in the Army. It was especially nice to have my name called and get a note from her when I was in Vietnam. She never said much, or rather said the same things. “Everything is fine here. I hope you are doing well. We miss you and love you. Keep safe.”
We were give post cards to send home saying how we were, but I neglected to send mine. After I was there a couple of months I quit writing altogether and one afternoon my NCO called me over and said my family had contacted the Red Cross to find out if I was okay and that I must contact them RIGHT AWAY and give them a cheerful and positive hello (or else- in his tone). I did, but was never good at contacting them. (1) The same thing even happened when I was at Vent Hill Farms in Virginia. It certainly wasn’t because I didn’t love and miss you. It was just that I was lonely and didn’t know how to write about nothing and I couldn’t write about my work.
Did I ever tell you that Rob Blank was in the southern part of Vietnam when I was in the Central Highlands? He used to call me now and then. I don’t know how. We were also stationed together a while at Viet Hill Farms. When he was sent elsewhere on the east coast we met a couple of times in New York City (2) and at his base. At his base there was an abandoned missile silo. I would drive onto the elevator and we would go down into the silo and drink beer.
So for now “Everything is fine here. I hope you are doing well. I miss you and love you. Keep safe.”
(1) I got off the plane in Vietnam with only an instamatic camera Dad gave me for the trip and the clothes I wore. I soon lost that. I returned with only the clothes I wore and a toothbrush I got in Guam. When we landed in the US they took us someplace and had us throw everything in big bins and gave us a shower and new uniforms and showed us the taxi stand out front.
(2) Rob introduced me to McSorley’s in 1970. It was quite a place that exploded with quiet power.
“McSorley's Old Ale House has been a gathering place, a watering hole, the subject of art and literature and even a supreme court controversy. Established in 1854 - McSorley's can boast of being New York City's oldest continuously operated saloon. Everyone from Abe Lincoln to John Lennon have passed thru Mcsorley's swinging doors. Woody Guthrie inspired the union movement from a table in the front - guitar in hand, while civil rights attorney's Faith Seidenberg and Karen DeCrow had to take their case to the Supreme Court to gain access. Women were finally allowed access to McSorley’s in 1970!"
(3) PS: 2012: Much has happened since then. Many of you have died. Many more of you weren't born in 1970. Life has been very good to me. Georgia, two daughters, two granddaughters, close family and a good career. More good things to come. What more could one ask for? Maybe Aunt Helen can inspire me to write about these things someday.