Write Again … Across the years and the miles

Published 8:54 pm Monday, August 6, 2012

Sometimes little things stay with you a long time. It doesn’t mean that great importance is or should be attached to it.

One of those little things took place a long time ago. A long time.

His name was Vince, and I’d say he was around 11 or 12 years old.

I first encountered him — in fact the only place I ever was with him — was when he came into our platoon’s bay at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

It was 1959, and I was in 3rd platoon, I Company, 3rd battalion, 6th Armored Cavalry Regiment. (Well, I’m not really sure which platoon it was.)

After we had finished basic and advanced training things were a little more, well, casual on weekends. (After Saturday morning inspections, that is.)

That was when Vince started coming into our bay. I’m sure he probably worked a number of our billets in the area.

He was selling weekend editions of the “Louisville Courier Journal.” His father was stationed at Fort Knox.

Vince was a handsome lad with a nice demeanor. One of his parents was Hispanic. I think. It didn’t seem important.

I would “encourage” any mates in our bays to buy a paper. After a couple of weeks, I started accompanying him to the other floors of our building. This we did together right up ’til Thanksgiving.

One could sense a change was coming. Things just seemed different, somehow. Vince noticed it.

And a change was coming. The entire 6th Armored Cavalry Regiment was leaving the day after Thanksgiving. We were heading to Germany. Deutschland. The Vaterland.

On that last weekend before we were to leave, I accompanied Vince on his rounds. He knew we were leaving.

When “we” had finished our rounds together, just before he left, he looked at me and asked, “Houston, are you going with them?” He knew I was.

We sort of looked at each for a few moments. No words. Then Vince said, “Goodbye, Houston.”

“Goodbye, Vince.”

After a moment’s hesitation he left. He didn’t say any more, nor did I.

I’ve thought of Vince on occasion through the years. He’s still that same lad, in my mind’s eye.

It is my hope that this young man — well, not young anymore — has had a good life.

APROPOS — “Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.”

— Oscar Wilde