Monday, September 17, 2012

We'll Always Have Parris....Island.

Yesterday I got as close to Parris Island as I've been in about 50+ years.

One hot and steamy July afternoon all those years ago, I stepped off the bus from Charleston at P.I., stood on the famed yellow footprints and was officially greeted.

Welcomed was not the right word.

At that point, the Marines took over my young life. Well, them and the ever present sand fleas. 

I think my Reserve unit spent about a dollar bus fare to ship me to Boot Camp down in Beaufort County.

But, most of the 16,000 young men (and women) annually arrived at MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) by train and, for many, their first taste of The South was Yemassee, S.C.

 Apparently the train station is still an important part of the small town and a large fading mural depicts the glory days of steam locomotives.

My mother grew up in Yemassee and told me she and her 3 sisters often would wander down to the station - about when the train was due - and enjoy the sight of fit, virile young men trooping from the train and being assembled for the short bus ride to Parris Island.

Yeah, Mom mentioned that.

 A Charleston native - even at 18 - knows summer here is hot, hazy and humid so I am surprised I agreed to enter Boot Camp in July.

Fellow recruits from far away places like Ohio and New York also were amazed at my profound stupidity. 

After I had signed up and joined the local Reserve unit, I was sworn in one evening in a ceremony downtown at the Gloria Theater. 

Today it's known as the College of Charleston's Sottile Theater but my night there, standing on stage with a few other young recruits, is remembered as the premiere of the new Jack Webb movie called "The DI."

As we sat in stunned silence, the other newest recruits and I watched a scary, pretty accurate depiction of what we were about to face. Yikes.

 (Click on the photos for more detail.) I did NOT take the photo of the friendly Drill Instructors. That came from the internet. My palms still get sweaty when I see just one in uniform.

 As a footnote, many years later I met Jack Webb while I was working at Universal Studios. He was shorter - and nicer - than he appeared in the Marine Corps movie.

At least I didn't salute him.

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At Wed Sep 19, 09:40:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Semper Fi! I managed to get ou of PI by June,, but it was still quite uncomfortable!



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