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The Road to...Here
please forgive me for this quick and not terribly important detour
Thanks to the infinite wisdom of the United States government, I spent an hour in the garage with a box of old records today. So.
Once upon a time, some dork found himself in front of the “amnesty box” at the 30th AG Reception Battalion, on Sand Hill, at what was once known as Fort Benning before we turned aside from our corrupted past and became morally pure by renaming stuff. A drill sergeant, sounding irritated and still-yet-more-irritable, had explained that he had best not catch nobody with no damn contraband, which he defined as anything not on that list in your hand of what you’re allowed to have in your damn suitcase. As young warriors have done all the way back to the dawn of time, the dork, anticipating downtime during fourteen weeks of initial infantry training, had packed a copy of the short stories of Paul Bowles. He now found no line item for “book, personal, 1 (ea.),” so he sighed heavily and shoved the book through the slot, hearing it land in the amnesty box behind a wooden panel. The dork was, at the time, obsessed with The Sheltering Sky, so it felt like a real loss.
Nine or ten weeks into that fourteen weeks of One-Station Unit Training, trainees from E Co., 1-19th Infantry, were permitted a Sunday afternoon in a morale, welfare, and recreation building on Sand Hill, to include access to the facility reading room. The dork entered that reading room, and was struck by the depth of the collection. Did the Department of Defense have a book-buying budget for young infantrymen? Was some beleaguered staff officer in the Infantry Training Brigade spending his mornings at Books a Million? The moment was documented for posterity.
Of course, what that young trainee discovered was that the reading room in the morale building was supplied….
….from the amnesty boxes.
He returned to the barracks with a copy of the short stories of Paul Bowles.
A short time later he was purported to have become a trained killer, though this was not generally in evidence.
Still later, a certain command sergeant major determined that the walls of the barracks were dirty, and the young infantryman aided in mopping walls until sergeant major was happy. I laughed out loud at this picture, which I hadn’t seen in twenty years.
At dawn, hundreds of bats flew around that corridor, and we were warned to never open the door to the attic. If bat guano is good fertilizer, I know a source.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
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