Patio Talk 5

Patio Talk 5

Matrimony: A Resume Builder

We just celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary. We don’t know how 60 years passed so quickly but it happened. but As you can imagine, it comes up in conversation. I’m not going to bore you with the details but will tell you how this started.

I got out of Navy boot camp in May of 1957 and went home to Augusta, Kansas on a 30-day leave. My friend, Jack Watson, fixed me up with a date with Pat, a girl he worked with in the Auditing Department of Sears Roebuck in Wichita. On that first date I realized that she was “the one”. She was cute and smart and sassy so I told her I was going to marry her. She probably thought I was nuts.

I sold my car when I enlisted but fortunately, another friend, Johnny Luding, solved my transportation problem. Johnny was working 2nd shift at Boeing and I would ride to work with him, drop him off, and go pick up Pat. At the end of the evening, I would drop Pat off at her place and go back to Boeing and wait for John to get off work. The 30-day leave whizzed by with Pat and I seeing each other as much as possible and getting acquainted.

When my leave was up, I reported to Naval Air Station Glenview, Illinois, located just outside Chicago. I would be there for 4 or 5 months while waiting for orders to school. Upon reporting to the base, I was assigned to the Information and Recruiting Office as my duty station.

There I was, ready and eager to get married, and no money. At that time, you came out of boot camp as a lowly E-2 drawing $85,80 per month. I needed another job.

I’ve always enjoyed working and sometimes had 2 or 3 jobs at a time. If you’ve been reading my stories you know that I’ve had a variety of jobs. During my pre-nuptial days at Glenview I added at least 3 job titles to my resume. The first spare time job was as a Watchman or Security Guard. Like most Navy installations, Glenview had what was called “4 Section Duty Scheduleand every sailor was assigned to one of the four sections and had to stay aboard the base on their duty day. There were a number of jobs that had to be covered, all things that were necessary to keep the base running. Security was a major item and there had to be a duty driver to carry people and paperwork around the base and people had to be available to man the phones. If a sailor had a hot date or some other compelling reason to leave the base, he could hire someone to stand the duty for him. I put out the word that I would stand duty at a reasonable rate and had quite a few takers.

The hardest watch and the one that most guys wanted to get out of, was the mid-watch (midnight to 4:00 AM) at the hangers. It’s hard to sleep for a couple of hours, get up and stand a four-hour watch, and then go back to sleep. I charged $10.00 for the mid-watch and got all the business I wanted. I didn’t mind it because the summer nights were warm, and I could look at the airplanes.

When walking the hanger watch, you had to carry a Watchman’s Clock. It was a large clock, several inches in diameter, with a strap on it so you could loop it around your neck and shoulder. The “post” or “beat” took you around the hangers and at strategic places there were Key Boxes containing a key that you had to insert into the clock you were carrying. This recorded that you were at the right place at the right time as you walked your post. At the end of your shift, the person you reported to could to check the clock and know if you had covered the ground as you were supposed to.


The next job title I acquired was “Baby Sitter”. As I said earlier, I worked in the Information and Recruiting Office. The department head was a LCDR Sanford. Mr. Sanford called me into his office one day and asked if I would like a babysitting job that evening. I immediately said yes, and he filled me in on the details. The Executive Officer (2nd in command) of NAS Glenview was a Commander Valley. He and his wife had to attend a function that evening, and their regular babysitter had been called out of town. Commander Valley and his wife felt much more comfortable having a babysitter for their 15-year-old daughter than just leaving her on her own. The job was located on the base, so transportation wouldn’t be a problem. The Captain and the Exec were both provided with houses on the base.

That first evening went well. We played checkers and watched TV and listened to records. Commander Valley had purchased some kits from Radio Shack and built a terrific hi-fi set. It was a nice evening and the daughter was a very pleasant young lady. When the Commander and his wife got home that evening they told me that they would be busy the following Saturday and they could use my help. Their daughter wanted to play a round of golf and she needed a caddy as well as a babysitter. I carried the golf bag on Saturday and did two more evening stint s before the regular sitter got back. It was a pleasant way to earn a few bucks.

2007: 50th Wedding Anniversary

The 3rd job title I picked up is a little harder to figure out. The closest I can come is “Ironer”. Probably, the next best would be “Washerwoman” but I didn’t wash anything for anyone and I don’t want to be referred to as a woman. The ironing job was much like taking candy from a baby. One evening at the barracks, I had washed my civilian clothes and was ironing one of the shirts. An iron and ironing board were available in the barracks for anyone to use. Thanks to my Mom, I knew how to use them. When I was a little kid, she said she wasn’t going to turn me loose in the adult world unless I could take care of myself. She taught me basic cooking skills, how to clean house, how to wash clothes and iron, how to darn socks and sew on buttons, and a lot of other stuff. So, as I ironed my shirt in the barracks that evening, two guys came in. They saw what I was doing and one of them said “Hey, I’ve got a date tonight, will you iron a shirt for me?” I said “No, I’m not ironing your shirt, but I’ll let you use the iron.” He said, “I can’t do that but if you will do it, I’ll pay you.” “How much?” “I’ll pay $2.00 a shirt” he says. ‘It’s a deal!’ I say. That’s how I became an Ironer. These spoiled kids I lived with in the barracks didn’t know how to do anything for themselves, so I easily grabbed several customers.

So, there are three little money-making jobs I added to my repertoire. Pat was busy and extending her range also. She was working her job in the Sears Auditing Department and while figuring out our wedding was learning things like “Event Planner” and “Budget Director” and Purchasing Agent. She shopped for wedding rings and with her Sears 10% discount got mine for $12.00 and hers for $10.00.


Pat at 77, G-Grand-daughter,
Quetzal, at 22 months.

In October, I was transferred to Norman, Oklahoma to attend Aviation Prep. School prior to being sent to Memphis to attend Aviation Electronics School. While at Norman, I took and passed the test for E-3 and I think my pay went up to $99.00 per month. Veteran’s Day was coming up and we decided to take advantage of the 3-day weekend and get married. The time passed quickly, and I hitch-hiked home. We were married on November 9, 1957.

After 60 years, I think I’m qualified to say a few words. Marriage is two people doing the best they can for each other, every single day.

Here’s Pat at 78

Dave Thomas
November 14, 2017


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