John Paul Jones
Whenever the family traveled whether on vacation or to a new posting, it was in the family car, invariably a station-wagon of some make and model. My Dad always drove; by the age of six or seven I was promoted to the front passenger seat. This was an important spot for it carried great responsibilities. I was the navigator, a task I became very good at, so much so I filled it on patrols overseas, and on field trips as I got my masters and PhD. I was responsible for keeping my Dad supplied with drink, sodas, coffee, or water, and snacks. The most important of which was cinnamon balls, a hard candy.
I never had a sweet tooth but to this day I still pack cinnamon balls when I travel, and cinnamon gum when I fly. The locals I trained overseas loved that practice.
My mom was in the back seat with my younger brother (6 years younger). Her responsibilities were legion– she had to take care of my brother Davey, pass me drinks, and large snacks. Our Scotty rode in the very back, he usually hung over the seat, mainly over my mom’s shoulder, breathing his “fragrant” doggy breath in her face. My mom armed herself with a squirt bottle of a blue powder which was supposed to improve on the smell. In truth all it seemed to do was make the dog snort a couple times. The Scotty indicated when it was time for him to relieve himself by digging his claws into my long suffering mother’s shoulder.
I can remember the collective din inside the car, my Dad yelling at me, “Which way do I go dammit!” Going 70mph down the freeway, while demanding a cinnamon ball or Pepsi, my Mother balancing my little brother as he stood awkwardly trying to pee in a Tang Jar (no stops except for gas for this family), the dog snorting from blue powder which drifted in a fine mist over the back seat, as my mom cringed from his claws digging in.
Ah! Travel for the military family
For those of us who lived in the duplexes of the RGH housing area in Seoul Korea, there was a thriving nighttime community of kids who roamed the streets after curfew, but for me, having a yard that was immaculately kept by the gardener was a struggle most people will never know!
Our gardener Mr. Lee kept our yard so immaculate that the one time I managed to sneak out the window to roam around with everybody, I couldn’t help but leave footprints in the flower bed below my window. Jumping out was easy, getting back in was the problem. I had to step in the flower bed in order to lift myself back up into the window. I was certain I had gotten away with it and was looking forward to doing it again as I slipped under the covers and went to sleep.
The next morning, Mr. Lee had a conversation with my father before he left for work and explained that he had found size 11 sneaker prints in HIS flower bed, which indicated that I had surreptitiously left the house in the night through the window!
Needless to say, when my father got home from work that evening I had to deal with him. He made it clear under no circumstances was I going to be climbing out of HIS window in the middle of the night, and if you remember my father, you know that was not an idle threat.
So for the rest of my time in Korea, I was unable to participate in the after-hours RGH nightlife. While I resented Mr Lee telling my father what I was up to at the time, in retrospect he probably helped keep me out of trouble, although that one night that I did get out was glorious!
What was hilarious that night was that our group passed several other groups of kids who were also roaming around too!
Years later I found out from my younger sister Rhonda that she routinely slipped out of the house and roamed around with her friends at night. If I remember correctly, she didn’t have a flower bed under one of her windows since she lived on the corner of the house.
At one point, my father was offered quarters on the main post at Yongson and asked if we wanted to move, but I was adamant about staying in RGH. Even though we were removed from all of the conveniences and facilities on Yongson, RGH allowed kids to do things that you could never get away with on main post because we didn’t have MPs and there was very little traffic other than our fathers coming and going to work. I’m so glad I got to experience Korea living on RGH.
What great memories!
Ramon “Ray” Rhodes