The Call Box: Improbable Journey, Part 1

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

lapd callbox

I am a sergeant of Marines stationed at Quantico, Virginia. It is the first week of August 1955 and I am awaiting my discharge on the 12th when my three-year tour of duty will be up. Moving north along the Atlantic seaboard is hurricane Connie, due to arrive here on August 12th. Several months prior, I’d read an article in the USMC magazine publication, Leatherneck, which followed two former marines through the LAPD academy.

 

In answering my inquiry, the LAPD was not very encouraging, advising me they accepted approximately eight percent of applicants. And don’t bother to come to LA unless I had a backup plan. I was not discouraged as I had could always get whatever I went after. My current assignment with the military police had sparked my interest and I eventually headed to LA. 

 

Where I began my journey

On August 12th, 1955, Connie arrived and I left, headed home. Home was North Branch, New York, a dairy farming community not large enough to qualify as a village. So, we were a hamlet. Is that cute or what?

Three years prior, I had graduated from Jeffersonville Central School, graduating class size 7. The population was 244 and the story went that the number never changed since every time a baby was born, some guy left town. The way the system worked was, you married your high school sweetheart, moved in with your parents, waited for them to die, then took over the farm.

 

My problem was no farm, but a general store which I helped my mother to run. Another complication—there was no one I was interested in marrying. The Korean War was on, as was the draft. I had no desire to go to Korea with the Army. My older brother had been a WW II Marine so my choice was obvious. 

 

coral06
Coral Sea following her SCB 110A reconstruction, undertaken at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in 1957-60.

 

 

As luck would have it, when I graduated boot camp I was tall, slender (sob) and looked very good in uniform. As a result, I was assigned sea duty for two years aboard the largest war ship afloat at the time, the USS Coral Sea, CVA 43. I spent the next two years cruising the Mediterranean. 

 

 

At the end of WW I, the song, How Are You Going to Keep Them Down on the Farm After They’ve Seen Paree? was very popular. Even in 1955, the song held truth. I didn’t quite make it to Paris and you know about the farm but you get the idea.

Part 2 of Ed Meckle’s Improbable Journey will appear here on November 30, 2016.

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