Ever blowing, changing me
Bringing me back home
Haiku My Heart
April 12, 2013
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It was forty five years ago today, April 12, 1968, that I reported for induction into the US Army via the draft. Funny how you never forget some things. Funny how some things change your life and you look back and know it did and can't help but think of how different they might be if this or that event did not exist in your life.
The bus I took to school when I attended Proviso East Hight School in Maywood, IL traveled Eastbound on North Avenue through the town where I lived, Melrose Park. I got on at 23rd. The bus turned South onto Broadway, or what we called 19th back then. It took a jog East for one block on Washington Boulevard then continued South to Madison Street before heading East through Forest Park, Oak Park, then into Chicago.
I got off at First Avenue, that's where the high school still stands proudly today, on the corner of First and Madison. It wasn't a school bus, it was a regular city bus we took to school back then. I used it for most of the four years that I attended high school. I did get a car early in my senior year and drove instead of taking the bus.
The funny thing is that this is the same bus route that I had to take to report to that induction station in Forest Park as it was located on Madison Street just East of the high school. I don't remember the trip, but I do remember taking the bus from home to report, and I remember taking a taxi from O'hare Airport to the house my Mom and Dad lived in almost two years later, when I returned from the American war in Vietnem. Actually, I served 22 months and seven days in active duty, exactly one year spent as a combat infantryman.
The irony of that induction center in Forest Park is that a couple of years ago, I met some high school friends at a bar along Madison Street. I did it again last December. I don't live in the area any longer. I moved away from my childhood haunts way back in 1974. I drove right by my old high school and even attended a homecoming football game there on that first visit back.
It feels strange to go back there now. A flood of memories comes back to me. Good stuff. The things that I remember from when life wasn't so serious. And believe me, it has been too serious ever since April 12, 1968. I've tried to change the reality of it. Running, drugs, alcohol, gambling. None of those things worked. It stayed serious and still is. In fact, I'll carry it to my grave and I want to. The experience of our lives makes us who and what we become throughout our life. I'm satisfied to know that my heart tells me it's okay. It's what happened, and today I celebrate one simple event that had to do with a familiar bus ride. The bus just didn't stop at school this time, but carried me into the arms of my own destiny.