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
PCOS orders! Permanent Change of Station. Dad had his new orders, and we were moving again! Oh joy… The military wife’s view of it was, “Three moves equals a fire.” Not totally true, but not that far off either.
The moving van drove up to our house, forever after known as our ‘old’ house. There were big boxes to put our loose stuff in, like clothing and linen closet contents, smaller ones for heavier but breakable items like china, and padding and wheeled dollies to remove our furniture. The men in the moving company’s uniforms set to work. A few hours later, they were gone, and our house was vacant and strange looking.
Dad grinned at Mother and me, saying, “Let’s get this show on the road!” Mother’s smile was a bit strained and tired as we left in our heavily laden car. We were off! I knew we were going someplace new, but was too young to think ahead, to know I’d never see any of my friends again.
It took us two days to drive to our new assignment. We finally arrived in Bellevue, Nebraska, where we found a motel for the night. The next morning, someone came to pick Dad up, and take him to sign in on our new base. Mother’s job was to find us someplace to live. This was a bit of a problem. She had two days to find us our new house before the movers were scheduled to come with our belongings. That, and Offutt, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, always had a large number of people moving into and out of the area. Which meant there was a need for more homes than were available.
Mother had faced that situation before, during WWII. Assigned to a training base in Louisiana, there had been hundreds of men and their new wives looking for a temporary place to live in a town which didn’t have that many local families. There were no rented by the week hotel accommodations, apartments or houses available, just rented rooms, and not nearly enough of those. She’d wailed her fears over the phone to her father back home. His reply was classic. “Doris, you don’t need several hundred places to rent, you and Paul only need one. You can find one.” And she had.
With that mindset, she, with me trailing along behind, began looking for a new home. Knowing better than to drive around looking for For Sale signs in this situation, she began to make the rounds of the real estate offices.
We were standing in line behind a lady who had two toddlers bouncing around her. When the lady’s turn came, she said she needed to sell her house quickly. Without even asking how many bedrooms it had, or how much it would cost, Mother called a reply of “I’ll take it!” before anyone else could beat her to the punch. The two ladies, and us three kids, were herded to a desk off to one side, where the office’s supervisor managed the negotiations and paperwork. And, just like that, we had a house to move into, even though we had no idea where it was or what it looked like since we didn’t know anything about our new hometown.
Dad bought an old car for a second car just to go to work in. He spray painted it to match the Buick Mother drove. It used almost as much oil as it did gas. He didn’t dare to change the oil for fear something ‘valuable’ might fall out, and the car would quit on him. He just kept feeding it more oil.
We lived in that house for a year before moving into a second house Mother liked better, one with my school right outside our back yard’s gate, and a window that could hold an air conditioner for those summer days over 100°F! Ah! Luxury!
Four years after, Dad received another set of orders taking him to his next assignment, We were PCOS again! That assignment would take us overseas!