Uniform+Parade+Ice Cream Soda+1948 Harley Davidson=Perfect Bride
Atoms and molecules are the basic elements of life. Formulas are the recipes that describe the contents and process of combining everything to produce a reaction. Add just the right amount of hydrogen and oxygen and water will be the result.
Formulas work for humans also. Add the proper genes and DNA and a beautiful new human life is the result. Add other combinations such as plutonium and uranium and a weapon that is capable of destroying all of humanity may be the result.
Some will argue that all life and the very planet we inhabit was the result of “The Big Bang” formula. If this is true than formulas must be able to cause reactions without human input. Perhaps divine intervention is the driving force. I was the fortunate recipient of the results of a formula that somehow came together without my knowledge or assistance. Allow me to explain.
The year was 1959. I was in the third year of a 3 year enlistment in the U.S. Army. I had volunteered for service two weeks after graduation from high school. I could have taken a 2 year enlistment but because I wished to be a paratrooper I was told by the recruiter that I would have to take an extra year.
Both my older sisters had husbands who went through jump training and I realized early on that if I was to ever be a real part of the family I too would have to learn how to exit perfectly good airplanes while they were still in flight.
This third year was a struggle for me because I discovered while in boot camp that the army was taking anyone who desired into jump training regardless of their enlistment length. After my first two years I watched all the friends I had made leave through discharge. I realized that I had been cheated out of a year of my young life and felt that no good could possibly come of it. I was wrong.
A formula such as I have previously described above was placed into action and I was somehow guided through the necessary steps to produce a final reaction. That this formula worked was all the more surprising because several of the steps involved were completely different than anything I would have done naturally at that time in life.
My unit was dispatched to Indiana for an Armed Forces day parade. We were to perform a jump during the parade. The jump plans were somehow changed and my unit was left with a couple of days of free time. Normally I would have joined most of the gang and investigated the local bars. For some unknown reason I decided to go to the local college to wander through the library. Instead I ended up at the malt shop on campus.
If you’re paying attention you will no doubt realize that a number of pieces of the formula were now in motion. A uniform, a parade, and now the ice cream. To keep the story short let me say here that I struck up a conversation with the lovely young girl working behind the counter. Other than us the place was deserted. (Could have been because parents and dorm supervisors were keeping there daughters at home under very close supervision until all those paratroopers left town). We spent a few hours making small talk and I asked if we could meet again the next morning. My unit was leaving at noon to go back to Fort Campbell, Ky, so it would have to be early.
We met in the morning, talked some more and exchanged mailing addresses. Then it was on to a helicopter and a flight back to the base. We exchanged a few letters in the next few weeks and then the most puzzling piece of this formula fell into place.
While in town one weekend somehow I happened to find a 1948 Harley Davidson motorcycle and was able to buy it for a couple of hundreds bucks which was a fortune on a soldiers pay at the time. You need to understand that I had never before been on a motorcycle but somehow I figured out how to get the thing started and before I realized what I was doing I was on Hwy 41 headed back to camp.
I practiced riding the thing through the back roads of the post for the next few weeks and then with more ambition than brains, I decided to take a weekend pass and travel back to Indiana, some 600 miles, to see if I might be able to further impress this young lady. I did not tell her I was coming and did not even know if she would be home at the time.
I almost made it. The bike broke down about 40 miles from South Bend. I left it in a farmer’s yard and hitch hiked the rest of the way. I called her and she agreed to pick me up. I met her family and we were able to see each other a few times in the next couple of months including a few days when her parents brought her for a visit to Fort Campbell. Within a short time somehow I was able to convince her that she should marry me.
To this day I don’t know why she agreed but that was 52 years ago and she has been with me ever since. When I think back on this miraculous bit of fortune I often wonder when this formula actually began. If I had not enlisted for the extra year would I have missed this opportunity. What if my units part in the parade had not been cancelled. Would I have had the time to visit the college.
What if it had been a busy night in the malt shop and we would not have had time to talk? What if I had not found that motorcycle? What if. What if. What if hydrogen and oxygen had not had the opportunity to find each other and properly mix? Would water have never resulted and if not would any of us be here today.
Sometimes we succeed in spite of ourselves. Bits and pieces, parts and plans are not enough by themselves. A formula must take hold and bring everything together at just the right time for a reaction to occur. Sometimes the reactions produce wonderful endings and other times terrible disasters. Why this occurs will most likely remain beyond the understanding of even our most gifted scientists. It is our individual faith that causes us to know that there is a higher source than us mere mortals directing these actions for reasons that are sometimes hard to understand and other times make the world a beautiful place.
Oh. the motorcycle. Well eventually it made it’s way back to Michigan and my father’s garage. My brother tells me that it was sold to a biker who was eventually killed while riding it. One motorcycle. Two entirely different reactions.