Approximately mid 1952, my brother was drafted into the U. S. Army. He was sent to Camp Robert’s, which was North of San Louis Obispo, CA, for Basic Training. This was approximately 180 miles from our home in Oakland, CA. Just before he completed Basic Training, he called home one Friday evening to tell Mom that he was on ‘Sick Call’ and in isolation because the doctors did not know what was wrong with him. Mom asked what was the problem and my brother said that he didn’t feel good and was running a high fever.
All my mother heard, was “I am sick !” My mom turned to my dad and said, “Get the car ready! We are going to go see him tomorrow morning.” Early the next morning, we all got in the car, including the family dog. Dad drove and Mom did everything she could to make the trip as short as possible, including sitting on the front four inches of the front seat in order to make the car go faster.
Getting on the base was another story. After all, there was a war… CORRECTION… Police Action going on. The guards at the gate were reluctant to allow any car with no ID, containing a set of parents, a kid brother and the family dog to enter the base. After several phone calls the guard reached someone of high enough rank that decided that we would not be a problem, so we were passed, but only after a thorough search of the car, including the suitcases. After we cleared the gate, Dad stopped the car abruptly, turned to the guard and asked for directions to the infirmary.
Dad followed the directions to the letter. We arrived at a medium-sized barracks with a small sign stating that we had arrived. We all (except the dog) started toward the stairs but were stopped at the bottom of the steps by a guard. Women were not allowed in any of the buildings. Mom had a message sent in, requesting my brother’s appearance. The message was translated into the Military language. A request was turned into an order … “PRIVATE RANDOLPHI, FRONT AND CENTER !” He thought there was a General standing outside the infirmary. He came flying out the door at full attention, in pajamas and a bathrobe. He came down the stairs casually when he saw it was just his family.
After the “Hello’s!” and “How are You’s!” I got into the backseat with the dog. My brother got into the front seat with Mom and Dad. Mom took one look at him and said, “Open your top !” After a very brief look at his chest, Mom exuberantly exclaimed, “Oh, for heaven’s sake, you have the Measles!” “We drove all the way down here just to tell those doctors that you have the measles!” Apparently none of their young doctors in the infirmary had ever seen anybody with measles. Mom was absolutely positive that he had measles because my brother had had them eight times already and she had nursed him through each and every form of that disease. So it was back to Isolation for my brother. He got over the measles in time to deploy to Korea with his unit. I think that was the last time he had the measles, after nine times, finally!
Mission City Voices