I know, I know, it's been over a year since my last post. I truly don't know where the time went, but today is Veteran's Day so this is my day to say thanks to the Navy and thanks to those that served with me, who, in every meaning of the phrase 'changed my life'...
"Education"--- To my dad meant getting through the sixth grade, then leaving school getting a job and helping the family by giving your pay to him. It meant that now you will be treated as an adult, there was actually people that was going to listen to your opinion and you didn't have to go to bed with the kids anymore. It was a 'right of passage' you were going from childhood to adulthood and all you had to do was quit school which most kids, when they were sixteen, hated anyway so it wasn't really much of a decision.
"Education"---to my mom meant that you went until you either got tired of it or they threw you out. She more or less agreed with my dad on the other stuff.
"Education"---to me meant that I knew I needed it to get ahead but didn't know how to go about staying in school. It was tough. I knew I wasn't stupid because when I went from the sixth to the seventh grade I was placed in an advanced class and began taking courses that was to prepare me for college. I know you are probably laughing or chuckling to yourself but for me it was a major triumph, you see no one had ever finished junior high in my family let alone to even consider college. When I was sixteen and living with my sister I dreamed of becoming an astronomer. Then I moved back home and all those dreams came tumbling down. To make a very long story short, I was pulled out of school when I was in the eighth grade and put to work in a nearby department store. Yeah, that's right I was sixteen and in the eighth grade. I was very sick the first year I suppose to go to school and didn't go, then because my family moved to or three times a year I was kept back a few years. Anyway, I worked at the department store for about six months when they let me go. Dad was furious! Everyday he came home and asked me if I got a job and called me lazy and stupid for not getting one. This went on for months and it got so I was going to my older sister Mar's home and she and her husband Johnnie convinced me to join the Navy where I can be my own man. I took their advice but dad wouldn't hear of it. He was convinced once he thought he could get an allotment check he okayed it.
Whew...that was pretty long just to let you know how the Navy and my shipmates changed my life but thought it was important to see my mindset after I arrived on my ship.
After all the work of putting our ship back together we were finally nearing the time when we were going to to sea. One morning a list of sailors were read over the PA system to report to the hanger deck of the ship, and I was on the list, there were about twenty of us. We stood at attention as a Navy Ensign told us that we were the only sailors aboard that did not have a high school education. He told us that he had put all our names in to take the high school GED test and that we had six months to study and pass it or we were going to back to school because none of us were going to leave the Borie without a high school education and he was going to see to that...I took him seriously.
I bought a book titled "High School Subjects Self Taught" and started to study in earnest. I remember being at sea and trying to study on watch in the middle of the night. A young Ensign saw me and gave me the keys to his office (about five foot wide and maybe eight foot long) and told me that I could study there where I could little quiet...I was in heaven. I was having problem with two subjects however and the test date was getting closer and closer. The first of my worries was algebra and the answer to my Prayers came from a place where I least expected it...my shipmates! Just remember back when you were in your late teens (males) it was a macho world where you spent your waking hours proving your manhood. One night while I was on watch in the Caribbean Sea I was cussing like a sailor trying to figure out how X could possibly equal Y when one of the guys on watch asked me what I was so pissed off about. When I told him, he got all the guys on watch in our engine room and the forward engine to compete with one another in solving different algebra problems. As they were solving them they showed me how to do it and these guys, God bless them all, did this every night for a week until I finally understood. The next big problem was English. I had a friend who was a college grad, Ken Cybulsky, who helped me by giving me a very thick book on grammar which had a long list of words and the student was to take one word a day and use it in a sentence as much as possible during the day (definitions were also there) which I did with his help. The test came...and I with three others out of the twenty passed and I nor my shipmates couldn't be any prouder. I was on a roll now and thought that I could do anything and I could...I advanced in rate as fast as anyone could go and made second class in three and a half years and was told I would be a first class at four years if I stayed in the service.
I got out of the service and after a couple of no-where jobs I decided to join the Baltimore City Police Department and what was the first questions they asked?...do you have a high school education or GED? You must have either to be a cop. I thought back to all those nights with all those "macho" wonderful guys showing me how X can equal Y...