Reminiscence Installment 45
First thing we did when we got inside the gate was to get chewed out by this officer about how dirty we looked and, if we ever had the honor of joining the Army, we would finally learn what clean meant. He also looked at me and said that he better never hear any of us talk bad about soldiers like I talked about the one at the gate.
I reckon that was my introduction to the things to come. After getting our asses chewed, we stopped at a low wooden building and were turned over to a sergeant after he had some words with the officer in private. We were given shovels, picks, and burlap sacks and told to wait outside. The sergeant came out and told us to walk down the road about a mile and there would be a group of fellows working. We were to join them and the sergeant would be along in a few minutes.
Well, we took our tools and set off down the sandy road. It was already humid and I could feel the sweat running down the small of my back. Worse than the sweat were the sand flies that came up to bite us. Seems like as soon as we got under some trees, the flies came. I have never seen so many little black spots flying around as there were all around my head. About every third breath, one of the flies would go up my nose and I would have to stop and blow it out. I think that we all had been bitten enough after about five minutes and we took off running hoping that the flies couldn’t keep up.
We got back out in the sun and the flies went away. The rest of the walk was just hot.
Soon we saw a group of fellows off to the left side of the road working on the edges, trimming back the grass and pulling up the dandelions. We kept walking past them cause they weren’t using tools and weren’t wearing uniforms. The only soldier we saw was one carrying a shotgun across his shoulders and sitting in the shade watching. At first we thought that these were prisoners from the Great War but soon we heard them talking just like us.
We got about half way past the group and the soldier whistled at us and told us to Halt! When we turned around, he was standing in the middle of the road and pointing the shotgun in our direction. Well, that got our attention fast. We told him that we were trying to join the Army and had been sent by the sergeant to join a work crew along the road, not to join up with prisoners.
The soldier looked at us and said that we were at the right place and that we were now prisoners because we were trespassing on government property. Damn.