This pretty well wraps up an exciting time in my life. Being at AFN was as close to being in a fraternity as you can get.
Good times for all (basically) and a hell of a way to do your compulsory military service.
I look back on how all that occurred and thank my so called “guardian angel” for making it work. It’s easy to follow the trail of how I made my way to the Castle....being able to type (thanks to Effingham H.S.’s typing courses)...being assigned to a big Army headquarters so I could connect with the right people...and eventually getting the transfer out of an outfit that had me driving a jeep for two West Point Captains up near the Checko border.
Except for Nick Clooney and that brief visit with Walt Sheppard in Boston...I’ve only been in email or phone contact with others from AFN. (Lots more on Nick follows)
I did go back to the Castle.
In 1960 I got a nice severance check from WJJD in Chicago where we had a strong union.
I did two things...got a nose job by the best nose fixer on Michigan Avenue (got a crush the most beautiful NUN I’d ever seen who ran the hospital but of course...she never knew it) and I bought a plane ticket to London round trip so I could return to AFN and see how it had changed over the four years or so I was away.
Surprise..I walked in and it looked just like it had when I left. I saw Bob Harlan, the civilian programming boss, and he joked that we ALL end up coming back to visit.
Very few of my close friends were still there so I spent an afternoon and then told them I was headed south for the sun.
I did and had another wonderful time in Nice and Cannes.
Only one problem this time...I lost my passport. Don’t know how or when..maybe had it in my jacket and it slipped out walking the beach at Monte Carlo. So my return reservation was for a Sunday flight to London. There was a nice guy working the desk at the airport and I explained about the passport. He went to work...said “just follow me” and I did. He explained that I’d have to reveal to customs in London that I lost my passport...and work getting to the states there. He walked me through several offices and right to the plane and I thanked him (forgot to tip) and landed a few hours later at Heathrow. Then the fun began.
They said I had to have lost it on the plane (I couldn’t get the guy in trouble so I agreed). They searched the plane but found nothing.
I was accepted into London but had to go right to the U.S. Embassy which thank heavens had some staff working on what is usually for the government a strict holiday.
I was interviewed and told them my flight was scheduled to leave in a few hours for New York.
I was told to wait in a waiting room...and then a nice lady said an officer was on his way from home to help me.
The gentlemen in question...was chief of the passport department and he listened to my tail of woe and laughed......”someone nice in Nice got you on the plane, right?”
I laughed. Smart guy here.
He asked if I had any pictures of myself...I said no so he whipped out a Polaroid and snapped a couple.
In about fifteen minutes he was back...handing me my new American passport. I was dumfounded. I thought maybe a document or letter or something...but it was the real thing.
I requested his card and thanked him and caught my flight on time.
I wrote President Kennedy a letter outlining what the officer did and some weeks later I got a response....on White House stationary.
“The PRESIDENT thanks you very much for your kind thoughts about _________________(name of officer here) and want to assure you he has written a note to the State Department requesting they put all this in his 301 file.
Wow! How about that JFK.
I just hope that move somehow insured the guy in London continued success.
Tying all this up:
That letter plus a another letter from JFK and one from Bobby(RFK) burned up in a fire at our home in Illinois.
The nose job turned out great(I never had the stitches removed and always wondered about that, but never a problem).
Never saw that Nun again...damn! I do remember saying to her “that if all the Nuns looked like you I’d be back in church Sunday”.
She smiled...probably used to that kind of comment. God chiseled her face for sure.