Saturday, April 25, 2015

I had an aunt years ago that was a pain in the a$$.

When I went into the army I told my dad that under no circumstances was he to let her know where I was stationed because I didn't want a bunch of fruitcakes and religious tracts sent to me.

He immediately understood and passed word to most of my uncles but I guess one of them forgot to tell his wife to keep her mouth shut. Aunt Jane let the cat out of the bag and the mail started coming.

Fruitcakes are a WW2 thing and I have mentioned that there was one that was made in 1942 that was sent through the years from serviceman to serviceman in the tribe until some distant cousin of mine got it during Desert Storm and finally buried the damned thing in the desert somewhere.

With my luck he left my name on it and a windstorm will unearth it and some Bedouin will discover it and send it directly to me and I will have to pass it on to someone else.

Anyway, I started getting fruit cakes and religious tracts from her and one day I was told I had mail and to pick it up. When I got there the Battery Commander was there and watched me take it all and stuff it in the trash.

Curiosity overcame him and he asked me why I was simply throwing all of my mail in the trash. I told him about my aunt. Then I asked him if he had any bright ideas in how to get her to stop.

Look it up in the book, he told me. You know, the Joseph Heller book. I laughed. He was referring to 'Catch-22'. The book was a favorite among a lot of the guys in the battery, both officer and enlisted. I was one of the guys that had read it and quoted from it frequently. The BC also quoted from it frequently.

We actually had a medic with the nickname 'Doc Daneeka'. Daneeka was one of the characters in the book. Two of the medics were nicknamed Gus and Wes after two medics in the book that would paint every patients gums and toes purple. 

One day someone tried to feign sickness to escape from a road march. The two medics nicknamed Gus and Wes promptly painted HIS gums and toes purple. Even though they both caught holy hell for it,  malingering instantly dropped off to nothing.

I knew what to do immediately and then stopped and thought. I looked up at the BC and told him that likely she'd ignore it if I wrote her and the BC said to meet him in the orderly room after the morning formation the next day.

My Battery Commander at the time had a pretty twisted sense of humor. He was also planning on getting out of the service after his tour of being a battery commander was up. He really didn't have much of a career to protect. Without a career to protect, an officer is downright dangerous.

The next day rolled around and I reported as directed. The BC grinned and looked at the First Sergeant. He said that I was having a problem with my aunt sending me fruitcakes.

"Fruit cakes!" said Top. "I thought they stopped sending those to soldiers after Korea! I have one in a footlocker somewhere I got in Korea back in '53! Its still probably edible!"

"I've called the Sergeant Major in for advice," said the BC. THAT turned heads! Everyone in the orderly room looked at the Old Man agape in absolute horror. He smiled back at us.

How the BC had gotten the Sergeant Major to come to us I will ever know. When someone needed the Sergeant Major they went to him. God wanted some advice from a Sergeant Major once and had to walk half a mile to him. On the other hand, the BC got along pretty well with him. He considered the Sergeant Major as a pretty good source of army knowledge.

Looking back on things the BC was pretty sharp involving the Sergeant Major into the doings of a Headquarters battery. It kept surprises to a minimum.

The Sergeant Major was a spavined old warrior that had a break in service along the lines. He was actually pretty old for his pay grade, and had served in WW2.

One day at the rifle range a few of the older soldiers were grousing about how the M-14 they learned to shoot on was a superior weapon. The Sergeant Major was listening and someone saw him and asked him what he learned to shoot on. He said he had learned on a 1903 Springfield.

I don't believe I was quite a sergeant yet and still pretty green. My mouth ran away with me. I said that I didn't think he had learned on a Krag and I guess my humor went over his head. (Thank God!) He simply replied that he wasn't that old.

We looked out the window and saw the Sergeant Major headed toward us and braced ourselves for his arrival.

We popped to as he entered the orderly room and the BC looked at him and buttered him up a bit explaining that we had an age old army problem and needed his expertise.

"Piccolo has an aunt that keeps sending him fruitcakes," said the BC. It was the first and only time I ever saw the Sergeant Major laugh. 

"I have a pair of them on my mantle piece that were sent to me back in North Africa in '42!" he laughed. "I kept those two as souveniers and buried God knows how many in the Tunisian desert and all the way up Salerno, Palermo, Anzio and all the way to Rome!"

He looked at me and laughed. "You poor bastard!"

Then he turned to us and explained that so many fruitcakes were sent to GIs that they were worried about the mail being sent overseas was taking up too much shipping space. He actually asked the Chief of Staff to see what he could do to get people to stop sending them. Washington didn't because they were afraid of offending the public.

The public kept sending fruitcakes and as fast as they arrived the GIs kept burying them. Even starving Italians wouldn't eat them.  My uncle was a Seabee in the Pacific and claimed there was a backhoe of some sort assigned specifically to bury fruitcakes. He said that lasted until some Navy Chief discovered a way to extract the rum out of them that most of them were soaked in. I suppose it was a change from making cocktails out of torpedo juice. 

Incidentally it was the same aunt that sent him fruitcakes that was sending them to me. I suppose one war's as good as another to an old lady.

The BC looked at the Sergeant Major and said he was going to send my aunt a letter saying I had been borrowed by the CIA for a long, dangerous and secret mission and that writing me could endanger my life. He promised that I'd write her as soon as I returned.

The Sergeant Major looked at the BC. "I'm not going to tell the BnCO about this," he said. "But please let me know how it works out."

Twenty minutes later the mail clerk wandered in with his daily delivery and was handed a letter addressed to my aunt. She never wrote again and neither did I.

The Sergeant Major retired about a year later and from that day on just about every time we crossed paths he would ask me how things were working out. He seemed pleased to find out I was not getting any more damned fruitcakes from my aunt.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

No comments:

Post a Comment