Good Old Abe
The NCO in charge of the barracks was a lad name Abraham Applebaum. He was a bragging, loud, obnoxious, brown nose from New York City. That in its self tells you some thing. From the time we boarded the train at Sampson he told everyone who he was, how he worked for Grumman Aircraft in Long Island, the wonderful important job he held there. He asked me what I did before service and I told him I was a Bellhop.
"A bellhop!", he bellowed. "How did you get into the Air Corp.?"
I told him I didn't think it was any of his business.
"You just wait till I get you in boxing", says he.
He was well rounded and heavier than I, a Possibility of some future problems.
He was not liked, but he always seemed to get the ear of someone who would push for him. He was our NCO on the trip to Jacksonville and now at Millington he was NCO of the barracks.
"You know", he tells me, "you're really a Goof Off (or something to that effect), horsing around with those bugle boys while some one else does your work." I asked him how he justified his three out of four libertys.
"All right wise guy, tomorrow is boxing and I'm matched up with you."
"Oh Cripes", I thought, "here is where I get what I brought on myself."
The next morning went as usual, reville, callstheics, then double time to our first class - boxing. We lined up for muster an the instructors began matching up contenders. "I'm matched with him", bellows Abe, pointing his finger at me for everyones attention. This vicious beast who was raised on the streets of New York was about to give a demonstration of dissapline to the country hicks around him which would serve as a warning to others..
In the ring we were given the regulation boxing rules. The referee wiped our gloves on his shirt and signaled for the bell. Old Apple and I met in the middle of the ring, touched gloves and I stepped back as Apple swung one from his ass. Wishhhhh, it went by and left him open to a quick left jab. I didn't hit hard, I kept jabbing and backing away.
"Stand still", he screamed in frustration, "and fight like a man."
"If you can't move your ass then get out of the ring."
By now I had complete confidence cause he was as slow as a snail. The Ref. laughed and called it a day. I never had to face Abe again.
Winter arrived in Millington. The weather was seldom below 30 degrees, but the humidity was always high. Thirty degrees in Millington was like 20 back home. Nothing like Sampson. Nothing was like Sampson.
Parachute practice was on the menu for the day. We would just slip the chute straps over our shoulders and let a slight breeze open the chute. Controlling the chute was easy.
Many times later I wished I might some day do the real thing.
Planes had taxied all over the field leaving hard ruts every where you looked.
Then came Applebaum's turn. Behind us was a Dauntless Dive Bomber warming up. A marine was in the cockpit and another on the wing instructing him. The entire class encouraged Abe to strap the chute on completely, around the shoulders, under the legs and around his fat stomach, which he never would lose.
The chute blossomed and Abe stood proudly pulling the shroud lines this way and that.
"Move over that way, Abe", they all suggested, "get some of that slip stream from the bomber."
The marine on the wing kept an eye on Abe and all the happenings. We knew it.
"Move over more Abe."
When Abe was in position, the wing Gyrine leaned over the cockpit and opened the throttle. The chute took off dragging Abe face down over all the frozen ruts. We ran to get ahead of the chute to spill the air and save Abe from his earned desserts. Abe was carried to sick bay where he remained for two days.
Did it make Abe a different person? NO!
He talked his way into three weeks ahead of the class with all his bragging of Grumman Aircraft. When the instructors learned he was all BS. They made him attend night school to catch up. Abe laughed. He thought it was funny. When he was back in our class, the instructors would call muster. When Abe answered to his name, the instructor would say,
"So your Applebaum. I just want to warn you while your in my class, keep your mouth shut."
Abe would laugh his usual Jolly Old Saint Nick. But, he knew the instructor meant it.
More about Abe later.
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