This past weekend I put the final touches on the sycamore burl hall table. The sycamore wood was like a magic sponge infinitely soaking in tung oil. I seriously applied at least ten coats before the finish was even.
I waited a week to allow the oil to cure. Then I sanded the finish to prepare it for finishing by hand. I brought out the elbow grease and sweat and went to town with mineral oil and steel wool. Once the finish was silky to the touch with a soft luster I continued buffing with oiled thousand grit sandpaper and rottenstone for the final touch.
In 1955 my father dropped out of high school and enlisted the US Marine Corps at the age of sixteen. Sixteen? How is that possible? Federal law regulates seventeen years the minimum age to enlistment in the United States military, and that’s with parent’s consent! Turns out my father conquered several obstacles throughout his life, the US Marine Corps serving as one chapter in his story.
He’s proud of his service and he’s proud of the US Military. My jack-of-all-trades father got the urge to write a book about his experiences. The catch? He types with one finger and writing pen to paper doesn’t go much faster. The solution? He recruited his jack-of-all-trades son to lend a helping hand.
We spent a road trip weekend together and I brought along my trusty digital audio recorder. My father recounted tales during our adventure and I returned home with hours of audio to transcribe. I’ve been busy organizing the text and working with my father to organize the story as chronologically as possible.
The tale starts in his hometown Swoyersville, PA and follows him to Camp Lejeune NC, Yemassee SC, Parris Island, Camp Geiger and the Boston Navy Yard. My father shares many anecdotes painting a vivid picture of what it was like to be a Marine in the 1950’s. He was one of the last recruits to complete boot camp at Parris Island before the tragic Ribbon Creek Incident took the lives of six recruits resulting with several changes in Marine Corps recruit training.
I started to post his stories online at www.ninetyonesuns.com. Ninety ones suns being a reference to the thirteen weeks, or ninety one days of boot camp. Please read this work in progress and pass it to your friends. We’d love to hear your thoughts.