Writing Challenge: day 18

Hawaii 1954

My Dad with his first car in 1954

I finally got most of an hour in on my writing goal. Leaving it for this late in the day is not a good plan. I need to make it higher on my list, right after weeding and watering the garden. I’ve progressed on to Day 3 of the Armchair Genealogist‘s writing challenge. Day 3’s email was written by a guest author Linda Gartz. She focused on how to get the first draft written. There is no one right way but gave some ideas of some possible approaches.

  • create an outline
  • you can start before you know exactly what the story is about
  • write unself-consciously
  • add footnotes to your first draft
  • use your own voice
  • start with a vivid personal event
  • write as you research

So I decided that I better just jump in and start writing. I thought I’d try writing as me talking about my Dad. So, trying to be unself-conscious about my writing here is what I wrote:

It is hard for me to imagine driving from coast to coast all alone at 24. I drove from Brooklyn, New York to Provo, Utah by myself (other than our 100 lbs. Dog) when I was almost twice that age and my parents weren’t very comfortable with it. But my dad did it and talking to him it doesn’t seem like it was that big of a deal. I hope that I can get details from him and memories of what it was like in 1954. How many days did it take. I know it was before they started the interstate project so all the roads must have been little two lane roads. I wonder how fast he drove. It certainly wasn’t 75 miles an hour. He was driving his first car, purchased in Hawaii, a dark green Chevrolet convertible that at least later he and my mom referred to as the bug. But not the Volkswagen Bug that is commonly referred to with that nick name. Ray was young and single and returning to Key West, the place he started his Navy career in 1947. Because he enjoyed the town when the opportunity came to return he put in for it. He was also drawn by the opportunity to be a Plank Owner at the first Navy School to teach underwater swimming with SCUBA. Up to this point there was no formal training in the use of SCUBA for Navy personnel. They just figured it out or went to the manufacturer for training. Ray had just such an opportunity in 1952 with a Navy assigned trip to US Divers. I’m sure this training helped him to qualify for his dream assignment in Key West.

The opportunity presented itself in the form of a letter sent out to by the Navy in the spring of 1954. Ray’s tour of duty in Hawaii was almost up and the opportunity sounded interesting plus he good buddy Demofonte was also interested in going. So the two of them applied and they were accepted. The next step was instructor training school in San Diego, California. For four weeks the learned the art of teaching in the general sense. Not how to teach underwater swimming but how to teach anything with a hands on kind of approach. One of the assignments was to teach the other students something. Ray learned a skill that has used the rest of his life from one of the other students presentation. He learned how to tie a tie. To this day it is the only tie tying knot that he knows more than 50 years later. I wonder if that student has any idea was an impact that assignment had on my dad. I had no idea that was where he learned to tie a tie. I don’t know much else about instructor school yet. I hope to find out more soon.

After successfully completing instructor school, Ray had a month of leave. Remarkable his parent now lived not far away and Ray spent the month of August with them. I wonder if his mom was as worried about his cross-country adventure as my mom was about mine? I wonder what he did with his time. I can imagine that he probably did odd jobs around the house. My dad has never been one to sit around and do nothing. I can’t imagine him not finding something productive to keep himself busy. But maybe that was something that he learned later in life.



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