Thursday, August 12, 2010

The KP Caper And The 1962 Seattle Worlds Fair

Click on the above pictures to enlarge them.
Click on the link below for more Seattle Worlds Fair Postcards from 1962. Click on each of them to enlarge them.
In April 1962 I was stuck in Meridian,Mississippi doing a year of active duty in the U.S. Air Force because my Air National Guard Unit(the 153rd Tac Recon Squadron at Key Field in Meridian)had been activated on Oct.1,1961 for the Berlin Crisis. We never left Meridian. See more on that in the two posts below this one.

Then came word that some of our planes and pilots and mechanics and a few support people were going to Tacoma,Washington to take part in a joint military war games exercise at the Yakima Firing Range in Yakima,Washington.

Since I worked in Headquarters as a clerk typist there was no need for me but I really wanted to go on this trip since I knew the Seattle Worlds Fair was underway that year. And plus I really needed to get away from Meridian and the monotony of that small base. So I went to the First Sergeant and asked if there was any way I could go. Turns out over the teletype came the request for 4 or 6 permanent KP(Kitchen Patrol)people. He agreed to let me go along with a few others with those orders.

The flight out to Tacoma,Washington was by two planes(C-124s also known as Flying coffins or old shakey).

I am not sure but the planes may have been C-130s.

They only flew out during daylight hours. So we stopped over night outside Fort Worth. Then again we stopped overnight at Alamagordo,New Mexico. I had a chance to go into town and buy a postcard of Alamagordo and send it to my mother. As I remember it was a small one street town. I wrote to her "This place needs Peace Corps volunteers". Then on to a overnight stay at a base outside Sacramento, California.

I along with two others decided to hitch hike to San Francisco. We left in the afternoon and were told we better be back by early the next morning so as to not miss out flight out of there.
We got out on the highway and got a ride from a guy that took us all the way into San Francisco and Chinatown. We ate a great meal there and then went to the Jazz Workshop and saw John Coltrane and his quartet. He was doing his long extended version of My Favorite Things and we were right there on the front row.

After that we went to the Mark Hopkins Hotel and the Top of the Mark where the bar revolves around and offers a great view of the nightime San Francisco skyline.
Then down to the ballroom to see the great comedian Joe E.Lewis. Buddy Hackett was in the audience.
Somehow we got to the bus station to catch the first bus out in the morning for Sacramento and we made it to the base in time to see the others going to breakfast at the chow hall. We made it back in time and did not miss our flight out.

That day we finally got to Tacoma,Washington. The next morning we reported for duty at Chow Hall #1. The man in charge there said, "We don't need you".They had consolidated 2 chow halls into one. So we proceeded to Seattle to the Worlds Fair. This went on for a week or more with no work assigned to us we just went to the Fair in Seattle every day. Finally after about 2 weeks the word got out and a Lt. showed up and asked us where we had been. We told him our story. He said, "Get a broom and look busy and don't tell anyone what happened".

At the Fair they sold extra large 3 feet by two feet postcards of a picture of the Fair. It could be rolled up and sent in a tube through the mail. I told one of our guys I should send this to our First Sergeant. His name was J.D. something. So one of our guys told me that he would buy the postcard if I would send it.
He bought it and I wrote on the back of the giant card, "J.D. No K.P. Joe B." and mailed it.

As I remember it we got back to Meridian and the base before that card did so I was there when it arrived in the mail and was there to see the First Sergeant open it and unroll it and read the message on the back. He didn't say much of anything as I recall.