Happy Birthday, Marines

Today is 10Nov08. The Marine Corps birthday. Semper Fidelis. Thus the reason for the military format of the date.

On 08Oct62, I joined the Marine Corps. 46 years ago. I thought there was going to be a fight in Cuba and I wanted to get in on the action. I was young and stupid. Inside my body lives the same young man that joined the Marines so many years ago. A bit wiser now, I would hope. I look in the mirror in the morning and the face that looks back at me is far different than the one I looked at that first morning of Marine Corps boot camp, in San Diego, California. The eyes I see wear glasses, and the beard on the face I see has greyed, and the body I see is fatter - definitely fatter. I was a skinny young kid and I was scared to death. I had arrived full of bravado and had the shit scared out of me the very first day by a badass drill sergeant that didn't like ANYbody. I got over it.

On 01Jul66 I was home. Discharged from active duty and not even 21 yet. I had shot at people and had people shoot at me, but when I got home, I couldn't drink and I couldn't vote. So I joined a theater group. In the spring of 1967 I went on the road with a puppet show that went to Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia, Columbus Ohio, St. Louis, Missouri and Chicago. There are people who read my blog from every one of the stops we made on that tour. I wonder how many of you know someone who saw the Pinocchio Puppet Show in the spring of 1967. I was Wilbur the Talking Tree, in the enchanted forest scene. I was also the mouth of the whale that swallowed Pinocchio and the jellyfish that floated by. That's the thing about being in a puppet show - you can be anything. Anything at all. It's all imagination, after all.

I remember Vancouver, as a small and quiet place. Pretty. I think it's changed some, over the years. And in St. Louis, we played the American Theater. I'm pretty sure that it was the largest house we played. We had a 'life sized' puppet show, and we could play larger venues because of the size of the cast. Pinocchio was 3 ft. tall. Big, for a puppet, and heavy. Made of wood - and had to be in order to stand up to the punishment of three shows a day and four on Sunday. Two matinees on Sunday.

I remember a girl I met on the tour - in St. Louis. Her name was Marsha, and she was a pretty young blonde with a little girl. A single mom. In 1967 in the midwest, it was still hard to be a single mom - back then they were called 'unwed mothers', and there was a certain stigma attached to the appellation. Her dad owned a trucking company and she wanted me to leave the show and work for her dad. We were attracted to each other. I think she saw a marriage in the offing. Somehow, I never got back to St. Louis. I wonder whatever happened to her. She has popped into my mind from time to time, over the years. Something in the back of my mind keeps kicking me and saying, "You should have gone back." But then, by that time in my life I knew one thing that I know to be true - you can't save everybody. I hope she didn't wait.

One's life becomes full of accumulated regrets. Things we wish we'd done differently. Yet, when you stop and think about it, if you're happy where you are, now, why would you want to change anything that got you to where you are? No, things happen for a reason. We don't always see the reason right away. You just have to do the best you can, make good decisions along the way and know that regrets are going to come. They're part of the whole thing. They make what you have seem that much better.

Beany is still missing. Say a prayer.



Shadow said...

yes, and as i grow older, i too realise that. sometimes that darn thing called impatience throws me off track for a while, but everything happens for a reason. i'm taking this as my thing to remember for the week, i hope you don't mind.

Jientje said...

From Marine to puppeteer, from Vancouver to St Louis ...
Every day we make decisions, and each and every one of them we could have done some other way....
Any which way we go we have to live
with it afterwards.
But sometimes I wish I was a talking tree in a Puppet show, where you can be anything you want to be...

Tash said...

Your last paragraph sounds like something I could've written. It's exactly what I believe Lou! I am me because of the mistakes I've made and the lessons I've learned. We live and grow and I wouldn't change any of it, as bizarre as that sounds to even me at times.

No regrets Lou, just 'what ifs'... and you're right, you can't save everyone.

Prayers for Beany and her family.

Patsy said...

Isn't there a song line that goes something like "I thank God for the crooked road that led me straight to you."
I'm happy where I am also, but I wonder at times what would have happened if ... I thought maybe it was just a me thing, but it sounds like there might be an everyone thing.
Happy Birthday to the Corp! Love those Marines.

Christy said...

That's a lotta St. Louis blog time!

I wish I'd meet this Marsha--she'd be older than me, and I grew up elsewhere, but I could tell you how it all came out for her...

On the regrets--I'm in a pretty good place now, but I had nightmares of regret last night, so I'm not "cured".

Loraine said...

Part of your blog today is strangely similar to part of mine...

moneythoughts said...

OK Marine, what happened to the painting? Did you finish it? Are you going to post it later?

I got out of the army in September '66 and went back to school. I am happy I served.

Ash said...

Who we are now has everything to do with the experiences we've had.

Regret nothing!

Cathy said...

I've learned to try to make the best of everything that's happened to me.

When you started talking about being a Marine, I never expected that you'd be a puppeteer afterward--that's cool.

hockeychic said...

Your last paragraph resonates very strongly for me today.

Very well written and so true. It helped me let go of a lot of my past that I'm not proud of when I realized that I like the person I am today and I would not be that person if it weren't for those experiences.

maggies mind said...

Thank you for your service, Lou! There is something wrong with coming back from serving and not being old enough to be served a drink.

Even if some things are painful to look back upon knowing that I made decisions I would not have made today, I also wouldn't change much, I don't think, because I do like where I am.

So scared still for Beany. I hadn't been one of her readers, but I always saw her around and have been staying updated and hoping she is safe and warm somewhere.

www.ayewonder.com said...

Thank you for serving, Lou. You've had a life rich with experiences and they are all so different. Keep creating them.

Nicole said...

Happy birthday, Marines.
May the ones out there now, stay safe!
Hubby has been one too, years back (Panama).

He didn't go to the Puppet show then. Couldn't imagine that :D
Can hardly imagine you there, then again, I guess I can :)
Especially in Pinocchio.

Regrets. I don't call it regrets. What if's. But that doesn't last long (at least not any more / not often). I am where I am and happy at that.
Like you say, things happen for a reason!

I hope, Beany is safe :(!!!

Employee No. 3699 said...

I don't look at certain times in my life as regrets or mistakes, but more as stepping stones. I wouldn't have the life I have now if I had done anything differently.

Joyce-Anne said...

I try to live my life without regret. I try hold firm to the decisions I've made and reassure myself it was the right choice to make at the time. Btw, this is not always easy for me to do.

Anyway, thank you for your service to our Country. My brother-in-law is going back to Kuwait this December. He's a career army man and has a few more years to go before he can retire with a full pension.

Still hoping and praying for Beany and her family. I check her blog everyday.

Jennifer said...








Jennifer said...

i love your life's stories. you are amazing, and I know this... but every time i read another one of your stories, i am dazzled all over again!!

i love that you were in the marines, and I love that you were in a puppet show... just as much. :)

well rounded is something we could also call you.

and you are right. things do happen for a reason. i believe that will i have. and i have all i have b/c that is true.

i'm off to read more to find out who beany is... i'm sorry they are missing and i will say a prayer.

missed you and so happy to be back to stalk you.

xoxoxox lots of love.

LceeL said...

Shadow: mind? Not at all. I am flattered.

Jientje: Things were so much simpler then.

Tash: No, you can't save everyone. But you must save some.

Patsy: The longer I live the more I see we all lead very similar lives - it's just that the view is different.

Christy: It's not the regrets you get 'cured' of - it's how you learn to deal with them.

Loraine: Great minds run together.

Moneythoughts: I didn't paint anything I was happy with, over the weekend. Which only means I'm not done yet.

Ash: Regretting is okay - it's just understanding that whatever you regret is part of what got you here - to where you are.

Cathy: You would be surprised at some of the things I've done.

Hockeychic: Perfect .. and exactly.

Maggies Mind: You are one for whom I would think the message is very strong. I read your Haiku and I know you did some hard things when you were young. I am so glad you've not let those things eat you up - you are such a fabulous person and you are what you are because of each and every one of those experiences.

And I, too, worry about Beany.

Ayewonder: Till the day I die, Mike. Till the day I die.

Nicole: I didn't know your husband was in the Marines - but then, I had almost forgotten he's American.

Employee: Exactly. you get it.

Joyce-Anne: That's one way to do it - try to do the best you can each step of the way. Even when life offers you Sophie's Choice.

Jennifer: I have missed you terribly, as well. Welcome back - and I hope you will be deliriously happy in your new home - right after you get that flea problem taken care of.

Myst_72 said...

Lou ~ you have had such an interesting life!
I feel sure we are guided down each path for a reason - and try and go with the flow as it usually works out for the best.
As it has for you!
Personally I hate regretting anything - it's a real bug bear of mine, but there are always a few things....

Praying for Beany...


queenlint1 said...

Lou, you've traded the scared, skinny kid for wisdom and experience! I was married in 66 and my husband Bobby was sent off to THAT war. He eventually was killed by it.

I made a replica dress uniform and a dyed to match ballgown circa 1879 for the 225th anniversary of the Corps. Made me think of all the battles the Marines have been in since 1779.

Prayers for Beany. Hope the Police are involved and have some leads.


redchair said...

Great Post Lou. You know there's an old saying that we 'only learn' from our mistakes.

My prayers are with Beany.

Momisodes said...

"if you're happy where you are, now, why would you want to change anything that got you to where you are? " So profound. That is something I'm still working on.

I loved reading this about you. San Diego, eh? I lived pretty close to the marine base there. Of course, it was years after you were there.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

A puppeteer! Lou, you continue to amaze me with all your talents!

Hyphen Mama said...

So well put.

I was thinking of Beany today and wondered if anything had changed. Now I know to send more prayers.

Eve Grey said...

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day here in Canada.

Nicole said...

:D :D :D

Huckdoll said...

I love that you've been to Vancouver and thought it was small and quiet :)

You should come back for a visit!!

Colleen said...

Great post. Very moving!

Lady Language said...

No, you can't save everyone, but you can be the good they had if only for a while. I am praying for beany...

Theresa said...

Everything happens for a reason. It has been my motto for a couple years now. I have to remind myself sometimes, of course, but it is something I firmly believe. Even the bad and stupid things have their place, their lesson, their value.

I really do need to come here more often :)