From Georgia to Germany
to South Korea
to Saudi Arabia,
it was a love where distance was irrelevant.
Do you ever reflect on a decision you made and realize it unknowingly changed the direction of your entire life? 1950 was that year for me. Fresh out of high school, I was working and restlessly still living with my parents in Daytona Beach, Florida. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my parents. I was born in 1931 and was one of the four children that they brought up through The Great Depression. But when you become an adult, you want to carve your own path.
By 1950, I was ready to start my own life, but I was not sure how to begin.
The push I needed came when Mom received word that her sister was ill. I quit my job, packed my bags, and left for Ohio to help. Unfortunately, my aunt was too sick to recover and after a couple months, she parted ways with the world. On the way back to Florida, Mom and I stopped at Fort Benning to visit Dorothy, my older sister who was working at a military station. My mom could tell that I needed a change and spoke with Dorothy about me staying in Fort Benning with her. Dorothy was thrilled to take me in. Everything was going well. Shortly after, I took my civil service test and began working in the Ranger Department office in 1951.
That’s where I met Jim Dugan, a tall specimen of a man, an ex-military man with a firm jaw and gentle eyes. He worked as a ranger instructor and would come in and out every day to sign the time sheet. One morning, I showed up at work and found a vase filled with handpicked violets on my desk. I was baffled by my secret admirer until a fellow ranger spilled the beans that Jim picked them during their morning run. The image of the strong, stern instructor picking violets in between barking orders was humorous, to say the least, and I decided he might be worth giving a chance.
Everything seemed to fall into place after that. It wasn’t “head over heels” or “love at first sight.” We were a budding blossom. A combination of time and patience, nurtured into something more…