Military Traditions

February 20, 2018 By Walt McDaniel

First View of the Ocean

The only bodies of water I saw while growing up on a farm in central Indiana were limited to the creek that ran behind our barn, a nearby gravel pit created when they built the county roads, and the city swimming pool. Later, in 1945, I looked at a lot of ocean from a troop ship traveling to England and back, but that was not nearly as exciting as our family’s adventure investigating the ocean in the U.S.

In 1952 I was stationed at Alexandria Air Force Base in Louisiana. Our daughter was six and our son was three. We were trying to settle down in the south when I received orders for Otis AFB located on Cape Cod — which meant little to the family, but I remembered that the Pilgrims had landed near there. We loaded the car and headed northeast with a stop in Indiana for Christmas.

We arrived in Hyannis, the largest city near the base on Cape Cod where others from my outfit lived. A good friend who had moved there several months before put us up for the night and gave us a recommendation for available housing. As soon as we had moved in, we found out that the weather in January on Cape Cod was cold, wet and windy, or at least it was that year.

As usual, we could not wait to see the country sights and explore the territory. Hyannis was a very quiet town with a winter population of about 5,000 people but grew rapidly to 50,000 in the summer. Our neighbors were locals and helped us begin a social life in the community. One gentleman suggested we drive to the tip of the Cape and see the winter beauty.

The next Sunday we started out on the only road, which bordered the ocean. Looking over the top of sand dunes did not give much of a view so we decided to stop and walk down to the water. After finding a small sandy pullout to park, we climbed over the dunes and were amazed how big the ocean looked with white tipped waves all the way up and down the coast. Unaware of the danger, we moved closer to the beach area toward the water. The kids were excited as we stood and watched. Suddenly, we were standing knee deep in water. Next, no water, but sand filled our wet shoes. Cold wet feet will wake you up in a hurry and we ran for the car, took off our wet shoes and socks, turned the heat up high and had an uncomfortable trip home.

My neighbor laughed when he learned about our experience. We had learned the hard way to respect waves washing ashore.


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