A Christmas story from a former sailor

Bellerose, NY

Two days before Christmas in 1973, it was cold and beginning to snow when I set out from Great Ill, at 6 a.m. to get home to my boys on Long Island. I was in the U.S. Navy then. My boys, Tommy and Bobby, were in a foster home in Levittown because my wife had left us. I was in the Navy and hadn't enough money to fly home. I had always kept my promise to my boys and didn't want to disappoint them. Roger, a naval buddy, had a car and could get me as far as Ohio. I could get a Greyhound bus there, which cost less. The roads were starting to get icy. All of a sudden Roger's car skidded and hit the back of a truck . We were lucky, though, and escaped unhurt. Now I had to hitchhike. As I was hitchhiking, I recalled a poem by Robert Frost which went in part as follows, "The woods are lovely dark and deep but I had promises to keep and many miles to go before I sleep." Which I really had to do. I was 50 miles from Indianapolis. Seeing me in my dress blues, a man picked me up and said he never picked up hitchhikers but it was Christmas and felt he should. He dropped me off in front of the ramp going into Indianapolis. Just then another man driving a snow plow spotted me and offered me a ride into town and told me the bus station was a mile away. I thanked him and wished him a happy holiday. I was walking about with my sea bag on my shoulder in about six inches of snow, when a young couple saw me and offered me a ride to the bus station which I thanked them for and also wished them a happy holiday. The station was crammed with homebound soldiers and sailors. There were more people traveling than buses. I struck up a conversation with a young woman who was going to see her daughter. Greyhound had a plan where couples could go first, and we took them up on that as a couple. I finally got to the Port Authority in Manhattan at 7 a.m. Christmas Eve. I than got on the subway and took a bus to Queens Village. where I was greeted by my ex-father-law Charlie and my ex-mother-in-law Barb, who was suffering from cancer.
After Breakfast we picked up my boys at the foster home. I rang the bell and the oldest saw me and said new daddy was here, which they called me. We had dinner and after dinner I opened my sea bag and gave them toys which I said Santa had given me to give to them. That was a Christmas to remember. May God bless all of our service men and women trying to get home this holiday season.

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