5:30 pm April 4, 1968, 45 years ago, my new wife and I rolled into Memphis, Tenn. to attend Naval Avionics School, my first duty assignment in the Marines after boot camp. We had been married just 6 days, 4 of which spent on the road driving from Boise, Idaho (2005 miles). We were out of money and only a little gas left in the car, 1967 Opal Cadet. Linda came out of a Shoney’s Big Boy where she had been applying for a job and found $5.00. in the entry way that saved us until I could get paid. We went looking for an apartment, and noticed lots of commotion and lots of black people running around everywhere. Being from Idaho and 19 we had no idea what was happening.
When we got to the first place, the lady said we couldn’t rent her apartment, but that we couldn’t leave. We didn’t understand and she said, “Martin Luther King has just been shot”. I asked, “Who is Martin Luther King”? She proceeded to tell us and why she had no liking for Abraham Lincoln. All this pretty well shocked us since we were white folks from Idaho and really didn’t have a clue about life in the south and the strife between whites and blacks. We spent 8 months there until I graduated and we were transferred to El Toro, California. It was a wild and crazy summer, curfew at 9:30 every night, Woodstock, Civil Rights movement, hippies, and war protesters, the country was changing. Being in the corps, a lot of it went by us without being noticed, but for the most part it was all good. Linda got a job at Military Tailors and I attended school all day. We lived on my check of $96.00/month and her .85 cents/hour, but free cleaning and alotment check. We got a German Shepard, named Millie (after Millington, Tenn). We were young and dumb and that probably saved us.
Just a few thoughts from an old Marine/Grandpa—- APR 4, 2013.
Cpl WT Beatty
Nov 13,1967-July 24, 1970