Alligators 'n Roadkill

Alligators 'n Roadkill
On The Road


Monday, July 24, 2017

How I Met Your Mother (For Our Four Adult Children)

How I Met Your Mother (For Our Four Adult Children)

            It was supposed to be a blind date, but it wasn't really that simple.  Things are never really all that simple, though, are they?

            I arrived in El Paso, Texas, sometime in October of 1967, after a thirty day leave in Seattle.  I had already been in the Army nearly two years by this time, having trained at Ft. Ord, California, Ft. Dix, New Jersey, and Ft. Gordon, Georgia.  After my Basic Training, then Advanced Infantry Training, followed by Field Radio Repair School, I had spent some thirteen months stationed in South Korea.  My arrival in El Paso was because of what we then called a Permanent Change of Station, to Ft. Bliss, which is now nearly surrounded by El Paso.

            I spent most of my Leave at my brother, Mike's, home in Seattle, and while there, he and his wife gave me the contact information for some former neighbors, who were then living in El Paso.  This was Mike Robertiello and his wife, Christine, and their baby, who I think was named Damien.  It was rightly thought that it would be a very nice thing for a young man such as myself to have someone outside the Army to interact with at my new duty post.

            I therefore wasted little time in contacting Mike and Christine after I got settled at Ft. Bliss.  Incidentally, my duty at Ft. Bliss was just about the best duty I experienced in my three years of Army Service.  I was assigned to the U. S. Army Air Defense Board, which was part of the Army's Test and Evaluation Command, headquartered - I believe - at Ft. Meade, Maryland.  Our mission was to evaluate and test new air defense weaponry under extreme conditions.  Since my Military Occupational Specialty was Radio related, I was assigned to the Communications Platoon, and we provided the radio communication to the people who did the actual testing.

            I should mention that the testing required Temporary Duty (TDY) in such exotic locations as Alaska and Panama.  That's right.  Extreme cold and extreme heat and humidity.  I ended up spending three weeks in Panama, but that came later.

            Back to my arrival at Ft. Bliss.  I was invited to go to Mike and Christine's home on what was then the far east side of El Paso, when I first called them.  So, on my first free weekend, I took a bus from Ft. Bliss to downtown, and transferred to another bus that carried me east.  The home they were renting at that time was located below I-10, just west of Lomaland Drive.
            As I got acquainted with Mike and Christine, they introduced me to other friends of theirs, in particular a lady by the name of Emma Sanchez, who happened to be the aunt of a former fellow serviceman/friend of Mike.  It seems that Mike had been stationed at Ft. Bliss a short while before, and one of his friends was Bobby, who introduced his GI friends to his aunt, Emma.  Emma was a widow who lived in El Paso's Lower Valley, who had opened her home to her nephew and his GI friends while they were at Ft. Bliss.  She did the same for me.  She gave me a bedroom in her little house, told me it was mine whenever I wanted it, and basically gave me a place away from the Army.

         As soon as I was able I bought a little car (a piece of junk, really; it was a 1965 Triumph Herald, a little red convertible clunker), and was able to end my dependence on El Paso's spotty bus services.  I was thus able to pick Emma up from work on Yandell (she worked as a bookkeeper at a finance company) on Friday's, and take her home, so she could avoid one evening's bus ride per week.  I would then take her grocery shopping on Saturday to nearby Chew Din's on Alameda Avenue.  Before long Emma began talking up a young lady she rode the bus with, and said that we should meet.

         At length she provided a phone number for this young lady, and I called her a couple of times.  Emma arranged a blind date for us, but things kept happening to put our date off, farther and farther into the future.  We were supposed to meet in December, but the young lady in question had to go out of town, then something happened while she was out of town, and then her mother suffered a broken arm, and so on and so forth.

         Finally, one Friday in January, I picked Emma up from her place of work on Yandell, and we proceeded on downtown to pick up Blanca at her place of work, another finance company, located on the second floor at 109 N. Oregon St.  This was coincidentally Jan. 12, the birthday of Blanca's mother.  Blanca's recollection of the first time she saw me is that I entered the office where she worked, and approached to counter that separated the supplicants from the loan people.  I, in my normal gringo English, asked for Blan - ka (should be pronounced as blon-ka), and her response, instead of being some sort of normal affirmative, was simply, "Here I am!"

        That was pretty much it.  Emma rode in the back of my little car, on the way home, and she and I kept up a running conversation, but Blanca hardly spoke at all. We dropped her off at her home, and then went on to Emma's.  Blanca and I later spoke on the phone at length, but she had proven to be a tad shy upon our first face to face encounter.

        Our first date?  It was in fact a double date, with another couple.  She was an old family friend of Blanca, and he was another GI, from Ft. Bliss.  We went to the drive-in on Montana to see the movie, "How The West Was Won."  Apparently, John Wayne was in it.  I do not remember much about it, and had to rent it many years later, when it was available on VHS, to actually see it.  One of the interesting aspects of our dates, including that first one, was that Blanca had to be home by ten P. M., each and every night.  Well, that all began on Jan. 12, 1968, and we were married at the Center Chapel at Ft. Bliss, on June 22, that same year.  And, yes, we are still together, all these years later.

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