The Chronicles of Harold
By Harold, Editor-At-Large
A Sad Return to an Unwelcome Homecoming
I returned to my home of record because that is where the Army shipped my excess belongings and I knew I had to be there when they arrived or my brother would plunder and steal what I had. I arrived and contacted the moving company and lucky for me, they still had my baggage at their warehouse at the county seat and I arranged to drive over there and pick it up.
I spent the night in the old shop building that was my bedroom prior to entering the service and the next morning before I got a chance to leave, my Dad confronted me and wanted to know what I was going to do about the allotment since he checked the bank and there was no money in the account. I told him, “The allotment stopped when I got discharged from the Army.”
He then told me that “There was supposed to be some more money in there because both of my brothers prior to you had received a bunch of money when they got discharged.”
I explained to him that, “The Army used to pay mustering out pay in the neighborhood of $300, but had stopped that practice. Now you’re eligible to draw unemployment.”
This made him quite angry as he had planned on having that money for himself. He then demanded, “You have to pay room and board.”
I replied, “I only spent overnight . And I brought my own rations in case of hard times. I’ll give you $5 for the bed which rightly should be mine and I’m leaving to go pick up the balance of my belongings.”
He demanded to know when I would be back as, “There is a lot of work stored up for you to do.”
I asked him, “Why don’t you have my younger brother do it, since he is your little angel.” He got madder and I got in my car and went to the county seat to pick up my belongings.
A Room to Rent
While eating in the dollar café across the street, after I had applied for my unemployment benefits, my older brother happened to spot my car and came in and had a cup of coffee while we talked. He wanted to know what kind of reception I had gotten when I got home and I told him. He asked if I was going back, and I said, “I don’t know that I am going to. Maybe I’ll try and find a room somewhere, but I don’t have much money. And Dad had demanded what I had that morning, but I refused and paid him $5 for spending the night.”
My brother and his wife were separated and he was rooming with some ex-neighbors who had relocated to a small village and bought a huge two story house and were having problems making ends meet. He said, “If you want I’ll ask them if they will allow you to rent the other bedroom upstairs from me.”
I said, “Are you going back home now?”
He said, “I will be as soon as my business at the courthouse is taken care of.” He completed his business at the courthouse and we then went to the small town where the lady was delighted to rent me the bedroom and board for $15 a week, half of my unemployment. That gave me $15 for gasoline to seek work and it was sufficient since gasoline was around thirty cents a gallon at that time.
I called the unemployment office and changed my address quickly, so my checks would come to my new place. My brother said he would tell the folks that weekend when he stopped by to pick up the eggs and milk that they bought from them that I had moved in where he was.
I was able to get a job on the extra board at one of the grain millers in the city fifteen miles from where I lived and the hours were irregular. I worked one twelve-hour shift and no sooner than I got home and went to bed, I was called out for another long shift. Sometimes I would go as much as a week without a call out, so I had to budget carefully.
One night, my car broke an oil line going to the filter and it pumped the oil out so quickly that it ruined the connecting rod bearings before I found a place to pull off. I was devastated since that meant I probably would lose my job unless I quickly found some transportation. When my brother came in and I told him what happened we went out and towed my car home and then he said he had passed a car lot in the county seat that had a car like mine for sale.
We went over and looked at it and it had the usual front end problems and the engine and transmission seemed okay. We dickered around and finally for $100 they let us have the car and threw in a pair of nearly new front tires with it. I paid $25 which was all I had and my brother paid the balance telling me I could pay him $25 out of each check I got until the $75 was paid back. An interesting note here is he did not demand interest up front like Dad did, if I borrowed t$20 from him.
I quickly jacked and blocked up the front end of both cars and changed the front-end parts from the dead car to the one I had just acquired and put the best four tires on it. I changed several other parts until I had it like I wanted it and luck would have it, I was not called in until I had transportation again.
At work, one of the guys I worked with was into street racers and he inquired about my old car. I told him the problem and he said he only wanted just the body to put on a different frame and drive line. I told him “You must take the entire thing and dispose of what you don’t want.” He gave me a $100 for the car and I promptly paid my brother off. He picked up the car that weekend so it no longer was an eyesore out front.
On several occasions I had tended my landlady’s children when I was on downtime and it wasn’t a problem since she had two girls thirteen and eleven and a pair of eight-year-old twin boys. We got along good and I never knew it until I started dating my wife that the older girl had a mad crush on me and was really upset when we got married and I moved away. Trying to explain that me being twenty and her at thirteen was just too great an age difference, even if her parents were willing, done no good. It took her over twenty years before she would ever speak to me again. Such a problem, here I had a romantic interest (one sided I will admit) and did not even know it.
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