Dad’s buddy
Sunday June 05th 2022, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Life

Random and then suddenly it wasn’t anymore:

A friend made a comment out of the blue yesterday, and it took me straight back to when the folks were visiting when the kids were young and Dad hoped out loud that he could get to see his old Army buddy while they were in California; when he told me the town I said that was near the Monterey Bay Aquarium, about 100 minutes away, so we could make a day trip of it all. So we did.

That moment when the two of them laid eyes on each other for the first time in 30 years. Good memories. I had been wishing for several years that I could remember the guy’s name so I could let him know his old friend had passed, if he was still around himself.

So then my inbox clogs when it has no right to and I was vacuuming up old emails and tossing them to make space (and then it jammed like an antique typewriter anyway and won’t even let me do that and I’m sorry and the resident geek will work on it tomorrow) and one of those old emails…had Dad mentioning Walt.

I had his name.

I kept that email.

I went looking for an obituary. There wasn’t one. He’s still alive. Hit by a car at 95 at the start of the year and had a long recovery ahead of him at the time.

Someone had interviewed him in spring 2020 for an oral history project, by Zoom because of Covid, and it seems almost quaint now that they were hoping that by the fall this pandemic thing would be over with.

I knew Walt had done a lot of children’s theater in Carmel and some children’s cartoons back in the day.

Turns out the early Charlie Brown TV specials? The kids’ voices? Those were his kids. Till they got too old for it while new specials were being made. Turns out his were not made in Hollywood–they were made in Burlingame, ie between my favorite yarn store I went to yesterday and here. That was a surprise.

Turns out not only was he in the Army with Dad and I was nodding my head at some of the places he got assigned to–yup, yup, Dad, too. Having never made it into any actual war zone for having been too young when it all started, he re-enlisted for Korea out of a sense of duty and ended up sent to a desk in the Pentagon. Writing he was good at. Soldiering, no way to know.

And I quote:

“And he (a Marine Corp Colonel) took me under his arm cause he knew Washington, I didn’t. So he would take

me to meetings and places where—you know—my most memorable, if want to call it that, was—he said one night to me, I want you to hear this guy, he’s gonna give a little lecture— are you busy tonight. No, I’m not busy—okay good, come with me. So we went to this place and there was a whole group of people in the room and a guy comes out and—before he’s going to speak, and this Colonel looks at me and said, I like you to meet Joe McCarthy [laughs]. And I said—and by then I already had an impression of him. And I almost—it was everything I could take to shake his hand. And I had to sit and listen to his lecture—it was like—and literally in that meeting he waived a piece of paper and said—I have a list of the communists that are in Washington. So, that I never forgot [laughs]. And—well that’s one of the memories—that’s the shocker. Eventually they got rid of me because the war ended.”

I read that and it struck me that the angry power-hungry extremists of his youth who had briefly had everybody kowtowing to them had been shamed into political oblivion not long after that infamous night.

It can be done again.

And I suddenly wonder as I type this whether a certain talented writer who witnessed it and who worked in the Pentagon played a bigger part than he said in exposing McCarthy’s words to the world.

Every reporter matters.

1 Comment so far
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“It can be done again.”

From your lips to G_d’s ears.

Comment by Jayleen Hatmaker 06.06.22 @ 6:15 am

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