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U.S. Navy School of Music (Part I)

Little Creek, Norfolk, Virginia was my address for the next six months as I trained and practiced to be a Naval Musician (MU). Actually it was a U.S. Naval Amphibious Base with U.S. Navy SEALS in training all over the place which made if far more interesting.

Believe me the school was work. My dear trumpet teacher from when I was in high school, Joseph Valenti, didn't tell me what I was in for. I only wish now I had worked on his lesson assignments better. This was truly incredible.

Paul Colquit, string bass player, and I arrived in the late July of 1967 to join the most incredible group of young musicians we could ever have imagined being in one place. We just got in from Washington, D.C. where we were hosted (picture top right) by Paul's relatives while we took the maditory tours of our great captital.

Yours truly on the above left and right and again to the left putting up a bag I've had since 5th grade at Francis W. Parker School. I still have it. I use it for my computer tool kit. Nothing goes to waste!

. To the right is fellow student Ron Swetnam. We are working at the west end of the base as mess cooks while waiting for billets to open up for us.

Paul Colquit (left) has to have one of the most stable personalities I've ever met. While he had to learn electric bass guitar at the school and his fingers were not only numb from practice but they'd be bleeding he never uttered a harsh word. A dear and amazing fellow.

On the other hand, Ron Swetnam (right), AKA "Gabby"....well you know. He was always had something to say and was "entertaining."

Candid shots were the norm. We were using this new Polaroid camera I bought at the base PX that gave little pictures. Not bad for cheap instant shots! All the pictures were sent home with writing all around them like the picture at right with good natured Paul. I made sure friends got duplicates.

In the photo at the left you can see one of the pennants I picked up at Virginia beach. I must have a hundred pennants from all over the world in my collection here at home.

Our locker was our home. I still have trouble convincing people that everything I had was in that locker; uniforms, shaving gear, 'transister' radio, shoes and underwear. No "i-Pod", no CD player and certainly no notebook computer. This is 1967. What ARE those things anyway????

Poor fellow (right) was trying to hitch a ride even though he was already "home" at the barracks. Sometimes we just didn't know what to do.

The photo at the lower left gives you an idea of what an exciting place mess cooking was. All the other cooks lived there as well. I prayed every night thanking my good blessings that I was going into the School of Music.....soon, I hope. Paul and I were there for two very nervous months.

I managed to get into trouble while there. I was interested in the mass production pies made there. So I made several hundred apple pies one day to the dismay of the Chief. I wasn't even a seaman let alone a cook. The unfortunate 3rd class, whom I convinced to let me do the dead, got into some real hot water. The pies came out great, by the way.

You'd be interested to know that the coffee pot was so big that two cooks would hold me upside-down INSIDE as I swabbed it out with baking soda and water! I also learned a novel way of opening up sixty bags of potato chips in five minutes.

   
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