Yee Haw! San antone! My first Christmas away from home I spent in San Antonio by the grace of USAF. They gave me a bunk and three squares. The barracks was called OT Hold. After six weeks in boot camp I was placed in limbo to await an opening in Officer's Training School across the way at Medina Air Force Base. It was a great experience, I see it now. At the time I thought it was a waste since I was young and eager to do something with my life.
They gave me a job at a desk. I was shuffling paperwork. There were those who had joined who wanted out. Imagine that. Their files came across my desk and I stamped them then sent them along. I remember most of them being individuals who could not get along well enough with others to remain in the Air Force. Since it was during the Viet Nam era they would be subject to the draft upon release from active duty. The army was not so flexible and snapped them up with a letter from Uncle Sam saying, "Greetings." I felt sorry for them.
When the job was over for the day I'd walk back to OT Hold. I had two bunk mates. Our bunks were three high. I slept on the top bunk. I chose it. Today I'm surprised I chose it. I have heightaphobia. There was a room in which three fellow OT Holders painted cups. It was a choice position for anyone with an artistic bent. They were fairly good. I ordered a cartoon of a spirochete on a cup with "The Love Bug" printed beneath it. I was shipped out before it was finished.
The evenings would carry us away into the night life of our portion of San Antone. We'd walk to the hole in the chain link fence and step through into the land of civilians. There was a row of bars with exotic dancers on tap. We had our favorite and usually stayed there until curfew. Inside it was dark and noisy. Music and conversation over beers filled the air. The atmosphere was red from the lights and sparkled with reflections off the spinning ball of mirrors above. The sparkling ball bounced light off the smokey walls and ceiling.
Our table was always open to the exotic dancers who seemed to like us quite a bit. One in particular was a very attractive young lady with aspirations to Broadway. Perhaps because we listened to her dreams she frequented our table. Her's was a unique talent. One that I especially enjoyed because I could join in. My first introduction to audience interaction. Her gyrations were spellbinding. The entire bar would practically stand still as she committed her body to the music. She smiled at me and the beat of the music ruled her perfections. A wink from her and a tassle would spin. She would point at me and begin the second. Both would be spinning clockwise. The place was packed with riveted eyes. I would point a finger with a rotating motion counterclockwise and she would immediately correct and spin in that direction. When my eyes were communing with that movement I'd rotate my finger clockwise which was answered with tassle ripples into a clockwise motion. The coup de grace would come when my index fingers of both hands would rotate in opposite directions to one another and she would answer with a wink, a smile and tassles spinning in opposing directions. It was her crowning glory. It was the wonder of the ages. It was a drunken airman's dream. Then we would return to the mundane life of enlisted men in the barracks.
Elvis came on TV while I was in the Hold. His Comeback show. We were all in the lounge sipping beer and smoking when he walked onto the screen. He had been out of the spotlight for a while, what with the Beatles and all. He overshadowed all the British invaders that night and boosted his career into a viable entity once again. We were pie eyed by the time it was over. Another drag before crushing out the last butt of the evening and a heave ho onto the three tiered bunk and I was out until the next morning.
One of the sergeants in my office was an aspiring writer. He gave me several of his stories asking my opinion. I thought they were very good and asked why he didn't send them to one of the magazines. He gave a couple of lame excuses and let it rest. I often wonder if he did finally send one off. I'm sure he could have been published if he did. His wife was very nice too. They lived on base. She baked me a cake for my birthday. Her cake was as good as his stories.
Don't know what brought to mind those few weeks in the Hold. Back then I thought it was limbo. If I'd only known it was the journey and not the destination. But, then again, I'm not the brightest student of life.