In 1955, we returned to the U.S. Dad was assigned to Malmstrom A.F.B, near Great Falls, Montana. We traveled back to the U.S. on the S.S. America. I have a few memories of playing on the deck, almost falling overboard, fire-drills, and docking in New York City in December, 1955.
While in New York, Dad bought a 1950 Mercury sedan. Dad liked it because at heart, he was a hot rodder and liked the flat-head V8. Before we headed for Montana, we went looking for the Empire State Building. Mom always told a story about driving round and round the block looking for the building, before realizing the entire block was the building.
We drove from New York to Salt Lake City. Dad always stopped in Salt Lake to see our relatives. We'd stay at Grandma McNeill's house (3463 S. State St.) Dad always made sure that he had 30 days leave so that he could help grandma around her house, doing repairs. After dad's leave was up, we headed for Montana.
We arrived at Malmstrom A.F.B. in February. Dad was in the O.S.I. still. Mom was expectinb my sister Sandy.
Part of dad's job was doing background checks on people enlisting or doing work for the Air Force. For some reasons he was always on the road and everytime he'd come home, he brought us something from an Indian Reservation. We stayed at Malmstrom for a year.
We lived "the house with the Green door". I remember the houses were built on hills on both sides of the street. Dad always said it was because it kept the house above the drifting snow. Thing I remember most about the weather in Montana was that snow didn't fall, it just drifted from side to side.
One of my clearest memories was collecting pop bottles and hauling them off to the Base Exchange to collect the deposit and buy things. I was only about 7 or 8 at the time.
Dad always liked to work on things. At the time, playing "cowboys and Indians" was the fun thing to play. Matel made a new toy gun called a "Fanner 50". I wanted one really bad, but money was really hard to come by. For Christmas that year, I got the greatest "toy" gun. Dad was always taking Dan and I to the Garbage dump to shoot rats. On one of these trips he found a 38 special. It was rusted and in really bad shape. Dad took the gun to the base hobby shop, cleaned it up, re-blued the steel, carved wood grips and made a belt and holster with my initials engraved in the belt. Always thought it was cool that while everyother kid was playing with a toy gun, I was playing with a real one. (yeah, he plugged the barrel and it didn't have a fireing pin.) Over the years dad made made lots of our toys. It always made Christmas special.
My sister, Sandy (today she spells it with an 'i') was born at Malmstrom. At the time, mom got really sick (Rheumatic Feaver) and my cousin Missie (Don's daughter Barbara) came up to help. Missie was the coolest cousin ever. Really beautiful and fun. She "taught" me to stick my gum on my headboard at night (to the consternation of my mom) so that I could chew it in the morning.
Soon after Sandy was born, dad was transferred back to Hill A.F.B.
Odds and Ends
Dad loved to fish and hunt. While we were in Germany, dad got a Weatherby 457 that he loved to hunt with. While we lived in Montana, dad took me hunting a couple of times and fishing often. It was fun traveling from place to place. Seemed like everytime we crossed a bridge over a river or stream, dad had to stop and fish for a while. Our trips always took 2-3 days longer than they should have.
Dad also bought his first new car, a 1956 Ford Station Wagon. With 4 kids, we needed a larger car with all of the moving we did. I remember it was blue and white.