I wish I had been in the military. I could have been in but I didn’t go in when I could have. I was against Vietnam. I learned quagmire — the word — from Walter Lippmann in Newsweek. ‘Nam was a quagmire, Lippmann wrote.
I think I can take orders, and I don’t generally sass people, and I’ve never argued with cops or umpires.
Some of my high school classmates went into the service. Some are on the war memorial on Green Road. By and large, these guys weren’t in the college-prep classes.
One high school friend went to Annapolis, though. He eventually became acting head of the FBI in Cleveland. I visited him in his office overlooking Lake Erie, and we brainstormed on ways to thwart terrorists. I didn’t have much to contribute.
When I was about 10, I sent away to the Air Force Academy for photos, and the academy mailed me an application. That was exciting.
I was mistaken for a military man just once, when I represented the Armed Forces at a sign-review meeting at city hall. The Armed Forces rented stores from my family. A sign-review board member said, “You walk like a military man.”
Aten-hut! Thank you.
The Armed Forces recruiting center contained the four major branches: Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force. The Army turned its basement area into a gym with punching bags and a Nautilus.
In 2008 the recruiters moved out; they went across the street to a newer building, and left us with three ratty sofas, a rusty Nautilus, barbells, a mini-trampoline, and a punching bag. And that wasn’t the half of it.
I wrote to the Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville, Kentucky, re U.S. lease W912QRM504000025:
There is 40 years’ worth of junk in the basement: 27 chairs, a punching bag, American flag, scrap shelving, metal framing, boxes of Army of One promotional material, two bikes, six pieces of Nautilus-like weight equipment, barbells, a mini-trampoline . . .
A 1970s stereo system, file cabinet, and a lot of assorted paperwork, of which I’ve enclosed an invoice from 1991, just to give you a flavor for what’s down there.
The government paid for the hauling. That was my last dealing with the military. “Sgt. Stratton” never happened. Nor did “Private Stratton.” I feel a little guilty about that. (I know, typical ex-hippie revisionist thinking.)
Clevelanders, go to “Hava Nagila (The Movie)” 7:30 p.m. tonight (July 17) at the art museum, Gartner Aud. You won’t regret it. Terrific archival footage. You don’t need to be Jewish or a klezmer nut to enjoy it. Helps, but not essential. Features Harry Belafonte.