My life with Patty


I was thinking about Patty and our life together and I realized how much more depth it gives our relationship to have mutual experiences that go back to our childhood.  I mean we grew up in the same town, went to the same schools, knew a lot of the same people.  In fact, Patty’s BFF Donna married my BFF Dave and they were Maid of Honor and Best Man at our wedding.  I was getting all schmaltzy about it and then I remembered this little incident…

Patty and I went home in the summer of ’64 for a visit.  We stayed for a few days with my mother in her beach house in Waldport.  (This was the summer after the Good Friday Quake hit Anchorage and generated a Tsunami that hit the Oregon Coast.  It was the second greatest quake ever recorded at the time and hit 9.2 on the Richter scale.  That really has nothing to do with the story except to put it in perspective.)  Anyway, we were staying with mom in her 2 bedroom cottage that never was really finished.  The bedrooms were adjacent and only one thin sheet of drywall separated them so you could carry on a conversation between the rooms with no difficulty at all.   Patty and I were in bed and Patty moved and the springs squeaked!  I was mortified and quickly whispered to Patty not to move because my mother’s bed was adjacent and the headboard of her bed and ours was a few inches apart and against the same wall.  Patty thought that was hilarious and began bouncing up and down in bed and my mother started groaning and I was desperately trying to hold Patty down.  Well, you get the idea.  It was a totally traumatic experience.

Anyway, that cottage is no longer there.  A log truck ran over it a couple years later.  Luckily, mom was visiting one of my sisters in Eugene when it happened or it may have been a real tragedy.  The truck went all the way through both bedrooms and ended up in the living room.  What wasn’t totally destroyed by the truck was finished off when they pulled the truck out.  Mom was in court for several years over that and although the truck driver had been slugging down beers at the Iron Kettle in Waldport just before the accident, she only ended up with about $13,000 after legal expenses.  I think back on that and realize that, in today’s litigious atmosphere, she would have been compensated much better.   As a matter of fact, my father’s fall down the concrete steps while working on the Sacred Heart Addition in 1952 should have resulted in some kind of settlement but all he got was workmen’s compensation of about $300/mo. and we were a family of five at the time. 

See, that’s what happens, I get started on a story and then I go off on these tangents.  Anyway, I started to tell about Patty and me and our life together.  Shortly after our visit to mom’s house on the Oregon coast, I got orders to go to Panama.  I left Patty with our good friends, Emmy and Fred, in Fowler, CA and flew down to Albrook AFB in the Canal Zone.  Patty followed a few months later, she had her 21st birthday while staying with the Adairs on their walnut ranch.   Some of our adventures in Panama and Latin America are detailed in other stories here in Chronospots but this story I don’t think I told.

Anyway, I had a really great job in Panama working in AFCS (Air Force Communications Service) at the Central Maintenance Facility at Albrook AFB.  We generally worked on all the communications equipment in Latin America and fixed anything and everything from Guatemala to Buenos Aires.  I think I mentioned the Blue Baron Communications Vans that had HF,VHF and UHF capabilities.  We had two of these at the shop and one at the airport in La Paz Bolivia.  Well, we also had three VC104 radio sets that also had HF, VHF and UHF capabilities and we had them all right there in our motor pool at Albrook.  These radio sets were actually jeeps with a bunch of radios and they needed periodic maintenance.  My buds and I would check them out and take them into the jungle or out on the beach or (a favorite place) the Madden Lake beds.  The Madden Lake beds were created by the Madden Dam which provided a reservoir for the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal.  The area was a very hilly and grassy place where you could get airborne while racing around in a jeep.  We would generally stop by the mess hall and fill up our coolers with ice and get some packaged lunches and then stop at a bodega and get some beer and head off into the interior for our periodic maintenance procedures.

Trippy brought the beer and snacks in his bug cause the jeeps were filled with radios.

It was after one of these outings that we were heading back to the base and driving in convoy through Balboa in the Canal Zone.  I was in the lead vehicle and my peripheral vision caught this beautiful babe standing on the corner waiting to cross the street.  I slammed on the brakes and almost ran off the road so we all had a good view of her and then I realized that it was Patty!   She was working at the Shoe Store for the Panama Canal Co. in Balboa at the time and was on a coffee break.  It was kind of an epiphany to realize that my wife could cause traffic accidents.

That wasn’t the only time that happened either.  When I was teaching in Space Systems Command and Control, we had our top secret satellite control vans in a compound outside the Computer Systems complex.  We would sometimes close everything down and head off base to a sandwich shop off Pass Road on the back road to Gulfport from Biloxi.  We would get muffeleta sandwiches which were huge round sandwiches with garlic, peppers, oil and Italian sausage and we would stink like hell.  We couldn’t do that if we had students in the van because anyone who hadn’t had a muffeleta couldn’t stand to be in the van with us.  Patty could always tell when I’d had a muffeleta for lunch.  Anyway, on our way back to the van after lunch one time we saw this babe standing in the parking lot near the van.  Jerry Waldrop, one of my fellow instructors, pointed her out and started to say something inappropriate when Jim Parramore, the Msgt. in charge of the vans warned him it was my wife.  Good thing he said something because I was ogling her too.

It was about this time that Patty was attending classes at Phillip’s Business College in Gulfport at night.  Traci was a toddler and I would watch her in the evenings when Patty was at school.  One night after class, Patty was driving our ’68 Chrysler 300 Convertible home from class on Pass Road from Gulport to Biloxi and someone pulled up alongside her.  She thought it was one of the professor’s from school that was fooling around so she stepped on the gas and raced along until the lights and the siren came on.  Well, if that’d been me I’d have gotten at least reckless driving and speeding but the Gulfport cop just told her to pay more attention to her driving.  In my next life, I’d like to come back as a pretty girl just to experience what a privileged life they enjoy.

Patty at Crater Lake with Omie & Gene on trip home in '64

I do appreciate the life we have together and find that she is just as interesting and attractive now as she ever was.  Right now she is working on Patos Island in the San Juan’s cutting logs and clearing trails for a week with a bunch of other women- fellow members of the Keepers of the Patos Light (lighthouse).   She is also the Oregon Training Coordinator for the AARP Tax Aide program which entails some travel and commitments mainly during the winter.  Along with that, we generally try to work in two or three trips to Hawaii each year and several trips to our timeshare condo near Port Townsend, WA.  When she is home, we walk downtown to our favorite brew-pub a few times a week for lunch or enjoy a beer and a good book together in the gazebo in our yard.  Life is good!

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One Comment on “My life with Patty”


  1. […] My life with Patty  August 13, […]


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