The Old Fart




Barksdale A.F.B.

In 1965, dad got transferred to Barksdale A.F.B., near Bossier City, Louisiana. While I loved the base and look back fondly at my friends and experiences there, it was a mixed blessing. The base was beautiful and the quarters we were living in were the nicest I could remember. Dad was assigned to the logistics office on the base as the NCOIC. It was a new job for dad and he seemed to really enjoy it.

When we first got to Louisiana, we couldn't get on base and had to rent a place in town until a unit opened up. While we waited, I had to attend Bossier High School. I'll never forget my first day in Biology. The teacher sat me at the front, in front of a bulletin board. As I sat there looking at the board, I realized that it consisted of a Black Man, an Ape, and a derogatory comments. I was astounded that it would be allowed in school. I'd always lived on Military bases and it was always us (BRATs) against them (Civilian kids.) I'd never thought of race when talking to my friends. I was uncomfortable around the civilian kids. After a month, we got base housing and we moved onto Barksdale and I was able to hang with other BRATs.

Life in Shreveport and Bossier City was wierd. I remember going into the McDonalds just across the Red River from the Base. It had 3 bathrooms (Men, Women, and colored). When we went to Penny's to get clothes, there were 2 water fountains (Whites and Colored). Airline High School was much better, though at the time, there were no Black kids, but at least, because of all the BRATs who attended school there, I didn't notice the racism as much.

I did take up a new sport. The base had a great golf course. My friend Richard Kinchloe and I took up golf.

I met my first real girlfriend at Barksdale. Her name was Karen Goodrich. We dated until we were transferred to Japan in Feb. 1966.

When I first moved on base, I met Richard and Steve Williams. Steve had a boat and invited me to go water skiing. We got the boat into a bayou near the base and they got me up skiing. As I went along, I had to keep dodging "logs" in the water. Steve and Richard were laughing their butts off. Turned out the "logs" were gaters.

I got my first driver's license in Shreveport. I'd taken driver's Ed at school, but had trouble with the Stick Shift. Our car was an automatic. I remember I passed the course, but couldn't get a license because I had problems shifting. I remember being upset, but dad just said, come on, and he took me down to take the test in our Chevy Impalla. I passed and got my license.

I tried out and made the Airline H.S. basketball team. Just after the season started, Dad got orders to Japan. This time, I didn't tell the coach until February when I had to check out of school. Again, I missed the end of the season, but at least I got to play while I was there, but, I was getting a little frustrated.

Teen Ager!

Barksdale was where I came of age. I had my first real girl friend, had to deal with real life situations like racism, started driving and discovering what being an adult was all about.

The teen club was a focal point in my life. I was there when ever I wasn't at school, basketball, or judo class. I had a paper route, bagged groceries, and caddied at the base golf course.

I remember going to my first James Bond movie "Thunderball" in 1965. The drive-in charged by the vehicle, so kids would try to cram as many as possible in. We packed 10 of us into a VW beatle.

I loved dancing and Saturday nights at the teen-club, we had a dance every week. Always with a live band.

The teen-club produced a play, Our Town, as a fund raising activity. We got lessons at the local college in set design and scenery. Then we all had parts. It was a lot of fun.