First marriages are something of an adventure. Second time, "Been there done that and have a ragged T-shirt to prove it. I married Dawn McDavid in 1954 before she graduated from high school. Her father was a successful Oldsmobile dealer in Weatherford, Texas. His wedding presents were a new 1954 Rocket 88 Holiday Coupe - fire engine red and a Gulf credit card. I took a three day pass over the 4th of July weekend, flew to Weatherford and claimed my bride.
We found a one bedroom apartment near downtown El Paso and set up housekeeping. Friends had been very generous with presents. We had every kitchen gadget known to man at the time plus linens. We were a little short on money. The paper work for her allotment had been lost. We eventually were paid all due us but in the meantime we had to play our cards close to our chest. We would do pretty good until the end of the month and then we would hock her portable Singer sewing machine for twenty bucks to carry us through.
The automobile came in handy. The only transportation to Juarez and downtown El Paso were taxis which charged and arm and leg. By chance one day I was on the hill, where every one took basic. A group of four flagged me down and asked if I would take them to Juarez. I told them I would for a dollar fifty each. That was the start of my weekend taxi service. The army kept trucks at the International Bridge to haul soldiers back to their units so it was a one way trip. I found I could make twenty or thirty bucks on a Saturday afternoon. Every little bit helped in those days.
Every one who has made cream gravy can relate to this. Her first solo attempt was funny. She had watched me a couple of times and thought she had it down pat. She got her roue going and added milk. In a few minutes she decided she had added too much milk and added more flour. You know the rest. Pretty soon that twelve inch Lodge cast iron skillet was running over and she sent out an SOS. We were waist deep in cream gravy.
We had been in El Paso a month when her parents and siblings arrived for a visit. We denned up like a bunch of skunks which didn't suit my father in law. When Dawn picked me up at work the next afternoon she headed for a different part of town, said she had a surprise. Her dad had found a two bedroom house near the post. It cost twice as much as the apartment but he gave us the difference in cash. Good thing we had the extra room because we found out we were having company, a baby girl.
Andrea Dawn was born January 16, 1955 in Weatherford. I was still assigned to Beaumont Hospital and managed a leave. The doctor who delivered Andrea had also delivered Dawn and I witnessed the birth. I was raised on a farm and had seen the miracle of birth many times but this was different. This was my baby and she was a good one. Healthy as a horse and happy. Dawn stayed with her parents while I returned to duty. She joined me in March and we received orders to ship to Germany in April.
I arrived in Germany the first of May 1955 and immediately started making plans for Dawn and Andrea to join me. It was not to be, not for a while anyway. I was ordered to the USAFE Signal School in Ansbach for a course that would last until November, 1955. I was pretty upset about this and decided to flunk the course. I didn't want it to be too obvious and made grades that barely failed. I was called in by a Major Bell who informed me he knew what I was trying to do, that my test scores indicated I was capable of passing. He gave me a choice. Either get high behind and bring my grades up in a week or court martial. Guess what? Bless two of my room mates, Bill and Ozzie, both graduates of civilian electronics schools and smart as whips. I didn't ace the test that brought my grades up but before the course was over I was in the upper ten percent of the class.
I returned to my unit the middle of November, two weeks before Dawn was to arrive. A GI named Boyce Carson was expecting his wife Barbara at the same time and he suggested we rent an apartment together. We found the ideal place, the first floor of a home owned by a German divorcee who had two teenage boys and one girl. She also had a maid named Maria whose claim to fame was living in the oldest house in Hamburg.
Andrea was eleven months old, walking and talking when she arrived and made an instant hit with the Germans, especially the maid and the teenagers. Maria would wake her about six, change her and whisk her upstairs. Dawn told me one day that she was worried. Andrea would not eat the Gerbers baby food but was healthy. She found the reason one day when she went upstairs to get Andrea to find her in a high chair eating bratwurst, black bread, butter and drinking raw milk. No wonder she wasn't hungry!
Things were going well. I had received another stripe, purchased the first of several used cars and was playing in a band. The winter of 1955-56 was bad. Snow and low temperatures made trips to the field very unpleasant but we made it. When spring arrived we found out we would have another child in November.
I thought long and hard about reenlisting. My CO made it very tempting but Dawn wanted to go home. She missed her parents so the decision was made to ship her home while she could still travel by land. She left Germany the last of August 1956, aboard a troop ship and I moved back to the base.
November 6, 1956, I received a telegram announcing the birth of Alicia Lorraine Worden. Another girl and a hand full. I left Germany the first week in December and was discharged December 21, 1956. Pretty neat Christmas present.