L U K E A I R F O R C E B A S E
A R I Z O N A
58th Combat Support Group
22 June 1968 to 30 April 1973
This trip back to the desert of Arizona was when our other two children were born. Despite being stationed in so many different locations all three of our children were born in the Phoenix area. Susan was born at Luke Air Force Base on May 7th, 1969 at 11:13 a.m. We were so proud to bring her home from the Base Hospital. She was and is such a beauiful girl. The next arrival a little over a year later (unplanned) was Deborah. She was born at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix on August 18th, 1970. Despite not being planned she was a thrilling and gorgeous addition to our family.
FAMILY PHOTO - DECEMBER 1970
Shortly after Susan's birth my mom, dad and Uncle Al drove out to Arizona from Cincinnati. We went for a sightseeing extravaganza to the Grand Canyon, (where my dad carved his initials on the underside of a railing; Years later when we returned the initials were still there.) north to Las Vegas and Lake Mead and then south to Disneyland. On the drive from Nevada to Los Angeles we got caught in a sandstorm (took all the paint off my uncle's car) and were lucky not to get involved in a multiple car accident because visibility was reduced to about 5 feet. We pulled off to the side of the road and just hoped that no one smashed into us. After returning from this trip we made a short jaunt down to Tucson and Nogales, Mexico.
I arranged a golf foursome with myself, my dad, my uncle and a Federal Aviation Agency guy that I worked and bowled with at Scottsdale Country Club. The scores are long since forgotten so I could probably say I beat everybody and get away with it since I'm the only one still living from that outing but that's not the point of this story. By the time we finished the 18th hole and headed for the 19th hole the temperature was 114 degrees. What a bunch of idiots we were to play golf in that heat. We each had a pitcher of beer downed in 5 minutes.
Base Operations at Luke was tasked with coordinating quite a few activities at Luke Aux 6 at Gila Bend, Arizona (now called Barry M. Goldwater Auxiliary Field). Every morning a flight went from Luke to Gila Bend carrying the range officers and picked them up in the afternoon. On a couple occasions I went to Gila Bend and spent the day roaming the desert. These photos are both from that area. I'm very thankful that I didn't encounter any rattlers!!
One morning a T-39 aircraft (similar to a civilian Lear jet)arrived from Bergstrom AFB in Austin, Texas to drop off a general and return to Bergstrom. Then he was to return in the afternoon and pick up the general. I got permission from my boss to go along for the ride. When I got home from work that day my wife asked me how my day went. Should have seen the look on her face when I told her I went to lunch in Austin, Texas.
Our phones at the dispatch desk required you to push a button to talk and I had an airman named Phil working for me who when talking to his wife always made disparaging remarks about her after he released the talk button. One day I took another phone, held it behind his head with the talk button engaged. When he made his comments about his wife she was able to hear everything he said. I recalled that they weren't on speaking terms for quite awhile.
Now there is a story. The watermelons that we got in Glendale at our home on Northern Avenue were the best I've ever tasted in my whole life. We lived across the street from a cotton gin and during watermelon season the trucks carrying culled melons parked overnight to use the cotton gins weighing scales in the morning. Needless to say that was an open invitation, besides these watermelons were all meant for cattle feed as they had dings in them and were not presentable enough to sell. Anyway the first time we borrowed a melon it was so delicious that we returned and carried one back under each arm. The next time we went over we took a wagon so that we could carry a few more. The fourth time it was suggested we take a scale along so that we could get bigger ones. After that whenever restocking time came we just took the pickup truck over across the street. Eventually we were forced to buy an extra refrigerator (second hand) so that we could have cold watermelons all the time. On one trip over we had just arrived when we saw headlights coming so we moved the pickup out of sight because we figured we were going to get caught. Turned out the vehicle approaching stopped beside one of the watermelon trucks and started siphoning the gas out of the trucks. We almost turned them in since we were such outstanding citizens.
BARN FULL OF HAY
Immediately behind the cotton gin was a huge barn about 200 feet by 200 feet and almost three stories high
completely filled with bales of hay. One day I got the idea to make a play area for the KIDS and started moving wood and bales of hay around. Soon there was a tunnel to crawl through into a room that was large enough to stand and move around. From the room there were tunnels leading off in all four directions just like a maze including haystack steps leading up to another room on a higher level and more tunnels. Somehow or other during construction of the PLAY AREA my watch must have gotten caught on baling wire from one of the hay stacks and pulled off without my knowledge. I found it about six weeks later in one of the tunnels. It took over an hour just to get through every passage way. I would have like to have been there when whoever moved all that hay discovered the rooms and tunnels. I told a couple of my co-workers at the base about the barn and one night Pam (a very beautiful woman) came over and wanted a tour of the maze. It's a good thing I've been faithful to my wife during our marriage because that night it required an iron willed constitution to abstain from a ROLL in the HAY.
CARLSBAD CAVERNS or Northern Avenue Hole
Shortly after the hay was moved the kids were out playing under the mobile home and digging with a spoon. That gave me another brainstorm and soon we were digging with their small kids shovels that you would use in a sandbox. Within an hour the hole was big enough for Doug to stand up in and not hit his head on the bottom of the trailer. Next step in the progression of course was a tunnel. We had to be sure and steer clear of the supports for the mobile home but eventually there was enough room for the whole family in our basement villa. When we moved from Glendale to our next assignment it made a handy garbage pit. I can remember putting old tricycles and wagons and rusted out Tonka toys in there. Some explorer years from now will think they discovered a gold mine of antique toys.
I became good friends with one of the civilian drivers who drove the Base Operations vehicles to pick up pilots and other places to which we would send them. I found out that besides his job as our driver "Greaser" was also working part time baking donuts at Dunkin Donuts or some chain similar. Every morning he would bring in a dozen donuts for us. These also were some really delicious donuts. After about a month of free donuts every morning "Greaser" decided that bigger was better and started showing up with a tray of donuts every morning. Just guessing I would say that a tray held about five dozen donuts. It wasn't very long before everyone got tired of eating donuts, even with every flavor imaginable. Thinking back, I' surprised that he didn't get me in trouble over that he was always doing something and blaming me. One weekend morning he called me at home and asked if I wanted to come over and see his orange crate.
I asked him what the hell he was talking about. It seems he came home drunk the night before sometime after midnight and his wife was taking a shower. He grabbed her through the shower curtain and she apparently picked up a straight edge razor to protect herself and sliced right through you know what. The doctors at the emergency room put it in a sling like an orange crate after stitching it up.. Anyway, I told him I would pass on the orange crate viewing.
Just about every evening during basball season I either had practice or a game, this particular night when I came home from practice my wife says "Your five year old son is waiting in his bedroom to tell you what he did today." As smart as I am, I figured out right away this was not good. When I entered the bedroom Doug was standing by his bed so I asked him what he did wrong today. He said "I threw a rock at a car and broke the lady's window." Instinctively, I said "turn around" and I whacked him on the butt not realizing I still had my baseball spikes in my hand. There was a loud THUD and I said "OK, Let's try it this time without the spikes and the book in your pants."
My parents flew out from Cincinnati for a two week vacation during our last summer at Luke and we decided to drive to San Francisco in our yellow Dodge Pickup truck. The truck had a cab on the back with enough head room to sit and an open boot between the cab and the back. Somewhere along the Interstate to California my mom, who had been sitting in a folding chair in the back, wanted to switch seats. So we pulled off to the side of the highway and played musical chairs. Assuming that all was set I pulled back out onto the highway. I could see my mom in my rear view mirror pulling up her dress and sticking her leg out for an approaching 18-wheeler. After we rescued her from the truckers we resumed our trip to Candlestick Park. My dad always wanted to visit there and I also wanted to add it to the list of Major League Stadiums I had been to. From Candlestick (3 Com Park now) we drove to Chinatown where we went window shopping. Occasionally we would go in a store where I impressed by parents by holding conversations in Chinese with the shop owners. It was the first time my dad had ever heard me speak Chinese and he couldn't believe his ears. I got a pretty good discount because I believe the owners were very impressed, too. Next stop was the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park. A spectacular place to visit, definitely in the top 10 of the places I liked the most.
We took 30 days leave during April-May 73 and began our travels to Anchorage, Alaska by way of the Alaska-Canada Highway (commonly referred to as the Alcan Highway).The highway was almost completely unpaved at that time and it was a trying trip in our trusty yellow pickup. It was almost the end of May when we arrived on the outskirts of Anchorage to be greeted by patches of snow still along side the road. The scenery on the trip was so spectacular that we decided four years later when we left Alaska that we wanted to drive the Alcan again. If I remember it took us over a week to make the trip.
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