Friday, March 07, 2008

Life of William Ricketts Smith, Part 11: "I squeezed"

(Part 10 is here.)

I shipped out on the battleship Colorado a few days before the first of December. We were five days from Honolulu to San Pedro, and I thought I would be in Vancouver [Washington] long before Christmas. They picked us up at San Pedro and took us to Camp Anza, California, in the middle of the Anza Desert, to wait until there was a ship to take us to Camp Stoneman at San Francisco, and Fort Lewis, Washington. I was at Camp Anza a week or ten days, they loaded us on a ship and we docked at San Francisco where we spent the night. We were two or three days to Tacoma and were loaded on trucks and taken to Fort Lewis.

Having come from Oahu, I did not have a dress uniform, so it was necessary to get one before I could be discharged. They had a complete uniform, except for a blouse (coat), but the supply sergeant said he had them on order and should arrive shortly. I checked with him daily, as I had to go by the supply room on my way to the mess hall. It was about a quarter mile from the barracks. The morning of the 17th of December, when I stopped by, he said he still didn't have the blouse, but he said he had a size smaller than I wore and if I could squeeze into it, I could have it. I squeezed.

The 19th day of December 1945, I met with Colonel Taylor and received my discharge papers. There were some other GIs there and they were on their way to Castle Rock, Washington, and said I could ride with them. I figured that was better than waiting for the bus, so I went. I had to wait in Castle Rock till midnight to catch the bus and continue my journey to Vancouver, where my family was. I arrived in Vancouver about 2 AM. Having sent a telegram to my family the day before, I expected them to meet me. I didn't know where they lived, as they had moved, and all I had was a route and box number.

After a few minutes, a cab driver came into the bus depot and asked me where I was going. Meanwhile, no one was there to meet me and I thought they were probably on my way. The cab driver came back after about two hours (4 AM) and insisted on taking me out to find them. I had a general idea of the part of the country they were in, so I finally agreed to go with him. We drove around for some time, he would stop once in a while and knock on somebody's door and ask if they knew where the Keithlers lived. It was almost daylight when we finally located them. By that time I was so disappointed and disgusted that I was about to go back to Fort Lewis and re-enlist. The problem was that the telegram was not delivered until the next day. I have never sent another telegram to this day!

The End

No comments:

Post a Comment