The Magic of Snail Mail

mail

My fiancée, Gloria, loved surprises, and so did I. I had received word that we were scheduled to be rotated home, and I mulled over how to surprise her. I heard the trip would take over two weeks and I racked my brains trying to think of a way I could pull it off.

Finally, it came to me. I wrote seven or eight letters to Gloria in a span of twenty minutes. I wrote them in chronological order, dating them three days apart.  I told a close friend to (air) mail the letters in sequence at three day intervals after I left, the last to be mailed well after I left but the day Gloria thought I would be leaving from Korea.

Later, I found out that he had made a massive goof and had mailed the letters in a haphazard manner, totally confusing and upsetting Gloria because the out-of-order letters made no sense.

On the troop ship heading home, we were jammed like sardines in a can, no doubt caused by the shortage of troop ships. The ship rode low in the water because of the excess weight. Beds were improvised and stacked three tiers high. The top cot wasn’t easy to climb up to, and once you were up there you weren’t too eager to leave, even if you felt the call of nature. We needed steely resolve on that trip and a strong stomach.

We endured monster storms; the seas so violent I thought the ship would surely capsize. When we began pitching and rolling in a violent manner, the soldiers lined up to regurgitate. There was always a long, winding line to the head. Some couldn’t hold back, and you could see them lining up along the rail hanging over and puking their guts out. Those unlucky ones who didn’t take the direction of the wind into account; were met with a very unpleasant surprise. I made sure I only ate dry crackers when we rode out those storms and never got sick.

Spoons, our one main entertainment center, put on an unbelievable one man show for all the officers and nurses in a large auditorium on the ship. With the rhythmic tapping of his spoons against the side of his leg, he ad-libbed songs right on the spot. Enlisted men weren’t allowed, but I heard he was a smash.

The gamblers on board had a field day. Before we left Korea, we were given a cash bonus for each month we had been on the front lines. Gambling went on twenty-four hours a day nonstop. Finally, all the gambling money ended up in the hands of two men. One, a white soldier and the other, Spoons. I wasn’t surprised about Spoon’s success because I had played him and he was unbeatable at cards. I could deal at blackjack, or he could deal and the outcome was always the same. When he was on a winning spree, he wore expensive watches up and down his arm from wrist to shoulder. When he was down on his luck, he would ask you what time it was, and you knew his luck had turned for the worse.

After twenty-four hours of straight gambling with short breaks, Spoons lost to the white soldier. The soldier didn’t know where to hide all that money so he put it in his pillowcase and slept on it. The following morning when he awoke, he found the pillowcase had been slit,and most of the money was gone. By the way, the money was so called ”funny money” (Government issued script).

When we reached shore, there was a banner on the dock welcoming us home. It was touching, but I had to reach Chicago before I felt at home. My mom and dad met me at the train station in Chicago, and it was so great to see them. I showered, changed clothes and took off for Gloria’s residence on the South side. My mom told me as far as she knew, Gloria didn’t have an inkling I was home.

She lived on the second floor of a three flat apt. building that her parents owned. As I rang the bell, my heart was fluttering. What if she wasn’t home? What a blow that would have been. The buzzer went off releasing the door lock, and I bounded up the stairs, six at a time. When I reached the top, her mom, Fay, stared at me, her mouth agape. I put my finger to my lips and she smiled. I heard Gloria’s voice in the background asking who was at the door. Her mom responded that it was someone selling something.

Gloria walked to the door, and when she saw me, her eyes opened so wide it was priceless. I took her in my arms and kissed her. She was overwhelmed, and all she could say was ”How, how, how?” I told her I didn’t know she could speak Indian. She asked me how this miracle had happened because she had just gotten my last letter an hour before I scampered up the stairs. I told her we had a lifetime in which I could explain it to her in detail. This past May it will have been sixty years since I bounded up those stairs, and I’m still explaining…

(photo courtesy of Anankkml/Freedigitalphotos.net)

Jerry Goldberg About Jerry Goldberg

Jerry Goldberg grew up on the west side of Chicago. After high school, he was drafted in the Army during the Korean conflict. Upon his honorable discharge, he joined Local 130 in Chicago as a plumber, working from 1952 to 2000. Jerry has been happily married for 60 years, residing with his wife, Gloria, in Huntley, Illinois. They were blessed with two wonderful children, and have three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
When his son encouraged him to get online, Jerry replied, “What do I need that for?” But all that changed a year into his retirement, when his daughter gave him a modem for his birthday, opening a whole new chapter. Finding stained glass insufficiently fulfilling, Jerry discovered the AARP message boards and began his one-finger magic. Eventually, he became quite proficient (two fingers), starting a board called, “Jerry’s Corner.”

This board was the second most popular board on AOL. Jerry bantered with any and all, and began writing humorous true stories of his past life. The stories you see here are a compilation of most he has written … enjoy!

Jerry Goldberg About Jerry Goldberg

Jerry Goldberg grew up on the west side of Chicago. After high school, he was drafted in the Army during the Korean conflict. Upon his honorable discharge, he joined Local 130 in Chicago as a plumber, working from 1952 to 2000. Jerry has been happily married for 60 years, residing with his wife, Gloria, in Huntley, Illinois. They were blessed with two wonderful children, and have three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
When his son encouraged him to get online, Jerry replied, “What do I need that for?” But all that changed a year into his retirement, when his daughter gave him a modem for his birthday, opening a whole new chapter. Finding stained glass insufficiently fulfilling, Jerry discovered the AARP message boards and began his one-finger magic. Eventually, he became quite proficient (two fingers), starting a board called, “Jerry’s Corner.”

This board was the second most popular board on AOL. Jerry bantered with any and all, and began writing humorous true stories of his past life. The stories you see here are a compilation of most he has written … enjoy!

Smiles For All