Now I don't have a keen memory for Life on Bradley Circle, Annandale, Virginia for the next 5 years - 3 Pentagon Years, Army War College Year, and 1 Vietnam War year.
And that is because my duties, first in the Army Staff, and then on the Secretary of Defenses Staff in the Pentagon were so demanding I seemed only to be up and driving up the 'Shirley Highway' to the Pentagon before light, and driving back home at dusk or later - all three years. Patsy had largely to raise the kids. Enroll them in school, support their outings. And she religiously attended as much as possible the nearby St Albans Episcopal Church Service on Sundays and at other times as a volunteer. When I was home on Sunday's I was usually too tired to go to church with her, getting the kids dressed and all. So Sundays more often, if I was around and not at the 'office' was when I got to know my three kids, while she went to church alone.
Rebecca remembers The Little Brother during the Pentagon Years
"Poor Edward became my baby doll until he learned to walk. Instead of dressing up the cat, I had a real live baby to work with! Then he learned to run, and wouldn't let me do it any more."
|Little Brother, 1964|
|Uncertain Date -Ruth Gorman and Patsy - best friends living close by in Annandale - and away from their kids for some outing purpose.|
The Pine Tree Incident 1966
Rebecca remembers "We had a big pine tree in the backyard at Bradley Circle. Good for taking the obligatory Easter photos of us all dressed up. (Mom worked hard at dressing us in all our finery. Everything itched from the starch on the clothes, and I managed to find the nearest mud puddle as soon as possible, according to mom.)
However, this pine tree looms larger in my memory because of the PINE TREE INCIDENT.
You see, I was just minding my own business one day when myOLDER BROTHER David decided that it would be fun to climb up the pine tree and slide down on the big sloping branches.
By golly, it was! We got stickier and stickier from the pine sap that slowed down and made it a soft landing.
Until mom saw us and said "GET out of that tree! You will break the branches!" We complied for about 5 minutes, when my OLDER BROTHER David grinned and said "Let's do it again!"
Of course we did! And it was fun!
Mom came out of the house with her wooden spoon swinging (it never was close to my bottom but always in my little psyche I could feel it!) and said "Wait til your father gets home! You disobeyed me and I'll let him take care of it! And David! You should have known better than your wee little sister!" (OK~~ I made that up, but I think that was her general feelings at the time. I know it was mine.)
So for the rest of the afternoon, I sweated the outcome and looked toward David for OLDER BROTHER guidance. He had abject fear on his face and went to hide in his basement bedroom. The coward!
Where Ed was during this, I do not know. Probably being adorable and hiding under mommy's skirts. No sense of adventure that kid.
So Big Bad Dad came home tired and worn out from the pentagon which usually meant grumpy and stay out of his way for at least 10 minutes. And soon the whispers in the kitchen (I was now hiding in my room.) grew until I heard my name being called byDAD.
Mom gave me a stern look while I was led downstairs to the bathroom to receive my punishment. I think they agreed that downstairs was better because the neighbors wouldn't hear our screams.
Dad wielded a broken pine branch and I knew then that denial was not in the cards.
Then I saw a smile start to break through as he lectured me on how long trees take to grow, and how this one in our yard was just beautiful until David and I had ruined it. Mom was heartbroken over the damage to the tree. Now he was here to exact justice on my little bottom.
And by the way, do not listen to your older brother when you know it is going to be something BAD.
Now he couldn't stop grinning, turned me over his knee and gave me some light swats with the branches. I think I squealed from the certain pain to come, but then peed my pants and wept with relief.
David was standing outside the closed door, so when I emerged he saw my tearful face and the pine branch in Dad's hand and knew he was about to GET IT BAD.
All I heard was one sided talking, maybe a swat and then David marched out crying just like me....but no screaming.
I thought David was the bravest brother I had ever met for not yelling out in pain.
The lesson was learned for sure. My tree climbing days were over. And mom with the wooden spoon meant business (next step was Big Bad Dad) so watch for early warning signs of her hysteria building.
And I still listened to my OLDER BROTHER because he was now the BRAVEST BROTHER a sister could have!
So, David, did you get it BAD for leading your wee little sister into doing this horrible thing? Or was Dad having a hard time keeping a straight face and only wanted to show mom HE WAS IN CHARGE!"
And David remembers "I remember more about the other scrawny tree in the middle of the backyard. Climbing up to the top of the tree where the air and branches were rarified. I was able to look over and a little down through the kitchen window. And I remember learning that what goes up must go, or in this case, almost fall down.
That didn't stop me however for when dad returned from Vietnam he brought a flare parachute and I guess heights still resonate because I remember pondering about flight off the roof. Still hadn't put together aerodynamics yet. I was on the roof, can't remember how I got there but think it was a ladder on the side of the house, had the parachute, everything was a go, but for some reason, and maybe it was I instantly acquired the power of reason-ing, I didn't jump. I recall sister and some other kids in the yard tho. I don't recall if they were yelling "jump" which would have been appropriate.
That pine tree was just in the way tho, of running down to the creek. Had to go all the way to the left side of the yard, like 20 feet, to get through the wire gate to get down to the creek. Annoying."
Rebecca found this picture of me at home during my Pentagon years. That I am in civilian clothes tells me it was when I was working in the Secretary of Defense's office where we did not wear our uniforms.
Rebecca notes: "Although Dad says he wasn't around much, this shows that he was!
Many of the items in this picture are still in our home.
Note the camera in David's hand.....the future photographer. Is that the Rollaflex?"
Yes it was my very, very good Rolliflex Camera I bought in Germany when I was a cadet. Cost me a bundle on cadet's pay.
Young David started taking to it and photography. And says he later shipped it off to a company in Seattle to repair it, and they manage to lose it! (or let it get stolen???)
Big loss. Many of the Black and White pictures in this web site were taken with that, and all the pictures I took as a Cadet in "West Point Years" was taken with it.