My fascination with military stuff probably started when I was about nine or ten. My mom was a WWII Spar (the Coast Guard’s version of the Waves). She had a 1944 copy of Bluejackets' Manual, the Navy’s training manual that she’d been given at boot camp, which was in Florida, a long way from the farm in central Missouri. I read that whole thing, all 500+ pages of it. Granted, my little boy brain probably didn’t really understand all of it, but I clearly recall doing something interesting with my new found knowledge.
I wanted to start some sort of club, I have no idea what kind now, and wanted something to identify us in a hierarchy (although I doubt I knew that word then). I had a six-pointed sheriff’s star (maybe it came with a six-gun and holster outfit I had?). I got some stiff card paper, maybe the thickness of two index cards, and traced the star shape on the paper, about eight stars to a sheet.
Next, in pencil, I painstakingly labeled each star with a Navy officer’s rank from Ensign to Admiral. Finally, I cut those things out, which must have been exhausting with those goofy “safe” round-tipped kids’ scissors. It makes my hand hurt to just think about it.
Whether the club ever really got off the ground is hard to say. I think I was the only one interested in being an admiral. Sometimes, great kid ideas just die a natural death.
I signed that book at some point in the long-ago past and included our home address. My handwriting was a lot better then.
I still have that manual. It sits on the bookshelf with all of my WWII history books. Who knows, maybe I’ll start writing a series about the Navy in WWII.