By Jug Varner
Like nomadic tribes, moving is a way of life for those in military service. When one has no wife and kids and few personal belongings, moving is a piece of cake. Throw everything in some bags and hit the road. It only gets complicated when you add dependents and material possessions to the formula. The more of each that you add, the more complicated it becomes. Moving also becomes addictive.
Perhaps there are a few of you out there who can match or exceed my personal record of moving — and if so, I'd like to know about it — but I have been at it a long time. And by the time you read this I will have moved one more time, which adds up to 71 places of abode since Bonnie became my bride during WW 2. (Oh yes, and there were 44 moves before I ever got married.) You probably think this is fiction…but as they always say, “truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.”
Once WW 2 got underway, the entire American industry converted to war production and little was available for the civilian home front after millions had gone to war. Housing was one of the casualties. You took your wife with you to various training sites at your own risk. All those places were overcrowded with transient trainees (most of whom took their new wives along despite the warnings). Fortunately some civilians with spare bedrooms and the need for company and income rented a room with kitchen privileges. You took whatever you could find (some seemed like chicken coops) until you found something better.
My first duty station after graduating from flight training (and getting married on the same day) was for a two-month interim training program at Atlanta — then small by comparison with the Atlanta of today. We moved five times. It became a way of life at each duty station until I went overseas and Bonnie returned home to live with her parents until the war ended. It was well into the 1950s before housing began to normalize, but the problems continued during the Korean War…then Vietnam. It wasn't quite as drastic, or as often, but we moved a lot!
After Navy retirement in 1968, I began a civilian career that took us to various cities, but by then moving seemed more like a habit than a requirement. The upside of all this is that we met some great people, saw a lot of the world, and accumulated more “stuff” to move around with us.
In the current move we initiated the process of downsizing for the first time. I can tell you it is a lot easier to move into a larger space than into a smaller one. The acid test is the decision of what to get rid of and what to keep. There is just so much you can pawn off onto your kids. They have their own “stuff” and little need for yours. We sold some, gave some to charity, and threw some away…and we still may need a storage space. You just can't part with some things the first time around, but you also can't get a size 10 foot into a size 7 shoe.
The fun part is, there may be a 72 and 73. We will be nomads to the end.