• December 4, 2020

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A belated thanks to Odessa - Odessa American: Letters To Editor

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A belated thanks to Odessa

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Posted: Sunday, August 16, 2020 6:00 am

Back in late 1956, a buddy and I ran away from our homes in Burbank CA. We hitchhiked down to San Diego with the plan to go through Mexico to Honduras (I was the USA representative and monitor for radio station HROW in Tegucigalpa). We were both 16 years old and went to a Catholic school where we were members of the California Cadet Corps. We were wearing out military uniforms. Anyway in San Diego, we thought that maybe was not a good idea. Instead we hitchhiked on Highway 80, headed east. Finally we were picked up by a young soldier who had just been discharged at Fort Lewis WA. He was headed home and told us that there was a lot of work in his home town, Odessa TX. His name was Jack Deloach. We went with him. When we got to Odessa, his family put us up like we were part of their family. Jack told us we could go down to the union hall and get hired as roustabouts. Me being about 110 lbs, never got as job.

I had worked at a Shell gas station in Burbank since I was 14 so I knew how to do lube jobs, oil changes, tune ups, brake jobs, etc. Finally after a week or so, I started looking for a job. A gentleman Dub Appleton who owned a Texaco station there hired me. My buddy never found a job. Nonetheless, I rented a room in town.

A few months later, we were walking to our place after my workday ended. Dub had bought me a six pack of beer. On the way, we were stopped by an unmarked police car. When they realized who we were, they took us to the station. There the tried to call the Burbank PD collect. At first Burbank refused the charge, so then the Odessa police told them they had the two APBs. Burbank then accepted the call. They told Odessa to hold my buddy and return him to California. They said to release me (my father and I never really got along).

I visited the Navy recruiter and took some tests. They said I could go to electronics school. I had just turned 17 (and my father had already signed papers OKing my enlistment). I then told Dub that I was going in the Navy. I joined on a day when they said I would be going to Bainbridge MD for boot camp. We spent three days in Houston and, lo and behold, I was shipped instead to San Diego for boot camp.

After boot camp I was sent to the Navy’s gunfire Fire Control Technician A School for 9 months. After graduation, I was transferred to a destroyer, the USS Picking (DD-685) in Long Beach, CA (ironically my birth town). Served the rest of my enlistment aboard the Picking.

I am now 80 years old and just wanted to thank the Deloaches for their hospitality they extended to two runaway youngsters. I am not sure if I ever thanked them as a youngster. I have tried to trace down Jack to no avail. If you known him or his kin, please pass on my profound thanks to them for their generous help to a youngster!

Odessa, TX

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