Getting Started & Finding My Way
(Part 10)

This is part 10 in a series of essays about when I was a young man (30+ years ago) trying to figure out how to “make it” in the world. Click HERE to go back to the beginning of the series.


It was early in the summer of 1977. I needed a job. I had no prospect of a job. I had tried to sell Shaklee door-to-door but failed miserably. There was only one thing left to do.

I decided to join the military.

I really didn’t want to join the military but I had no money, no car, no job, no nothing. There was no other option.

My Grassroots Project school buddy, Joe Miller, from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware was a surfer. There was a Coast Guard station near where he lived and he had told me what a great group of guys were in the Coast Guard. So I decided that the Coast Guard was for me.

My mother went with me to visit the recruiter in Syracuse, NY. We listened to his spiel. I took a short test. We went home to think about it. I was pretty sure I would join the Coast Guard.

When I got home I wrote a letter to my friends Bruce and Patty Womer back in Vermont. I told them about not having a job. I told them I was going to join the Coast Guard.

Within a few days I had a letter from Patty. She told me I was welcome to come back to Vermont and stay with them while helping to renovate the big old dormitory building. It was a big job that would take all summer. She wrote that Bruce really could use my help again. She also wrote that Bruce didn’t think I should join the Coast Guard.

Well now, that was a ray of sunshine in my dark little world. I was needed! Bruce needed me. The Womers were great folks. I didn’t have to give any thought to this opportunity. I would get myself back to Craftsbury Common ASAP.

The only problem was that I had a girlfriend (now my wife, of 27 years). I would miss her. But we knew from my year at school in Vermont that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Besides, it would only be a couple months.

Thinking back on those days of separation, it is interesting to note that Marlene and I did not have cell phones or e-mail to keep in touch. And phone calls were very rare. What we did was write letters to each other. Almost every day we wrote to, and received a letter from, each other.

My school friend, Ed Bais, from Cleveland, Ohio, called me to say he was borrowing his sister’s car and heading back to Craftsbury Common for a fiddler’s contest. Did I want to go? What timing! That’s how I got back to Vermont.

Before I left, I visited the Coast Guard recruiter again. I told him I wanted to enlist but I had a job in Vermont for the summer. I would be back in the fall and enlist then. I signed some papers but didn’t commit myself completely. Bruce Womer’s admonition was in my mind.

To be continued...
Click HERE to go to Part 11 of this series

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