I think he was funny that day

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 6, 2003

I remember being 19, in an army uniform and being in England waiting for something big to happen. It did; Bob Hope came to Europe with pretty girls and bad jokes. But few cared about his humor when long pretty legs stuck out of short shorts walking across a makeshift stage. Hope had the microphone and tried to be funny above the ear-piercing whistles that flew in his direction. These were prime American girls and names meant nothing as long as they stood there in the cold, shivering but not nearly as much as we were. I believe it was in March 1944 and we had been trucked many miles to a camp where he would be for an hour. The sight of the girls warmed us considerably and brought pleasant but sad memories of the girls we had left behind. Hope wasn’t singing &uot;Thanks for the Memories&uot; in those early war days but the memory of that cold afternoon is still with me, and perhaps thousands of other G.I.s if they are still alive. I always thought his jokes were corny, even now, but millions think he was a great guy.

He showed up in France and Germany as we moved across those countries, but I never saw him again. We heard he was also somewhere in the Pacific Theatre and wondered how he could get around so fast when we were slugging it through mud. Everybody, including the chaplain, had posters of pretty girls in varying stages of undress. We had them on and in our trucks, pasted on tents, and burned in our brains. Nobody ever complained because the only &uot;blue noses&uot; were the result of the cold. And we were always stumbling onto a wine cellar or huge barrels of German beer. Gee, and we smoked those Lucky Strikes…you wonder how we ever won that war. Simple, we didn’t have much time for vice. Only when we had a chance to rest did we ever imbibe.

Before becoming a combat engineer I was in an engineering college located in California near the corner of Hollywood and Vine. It was just a few blocks from the famous Holly-wood Canteen where one with nerve enough could dance with a movie starlet. At 18 that was something special and I’ll admit my academics suffered. Bob Hope took the stage there one night, I had never heard of him, and he wowed the audience with his anecdotes. Little did I know that I would run into him again under very different circumstances. Sadly, the army needed bodies for the invasion and the Army College was cancelled. I wasn’t unhappy; I was tired of crossing Hollywood Boulevard carrying a white wooden rifle. I wanted action and soon found it.

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I seldom go fishing without my neighbor and recently we hauled his boat to the Bennett’s Creek Park, owned and maintained by Suffolk’s Parks and Recreation. You just stay on Shoulder’s Hill Road until you see the sign, it’s back in there a ways, plenty of parking, twin boat launching ramps and even a pier from which to fish. We passed tennis courts, playgrounds, picnic areas, weather shelters, and even privies. The only complaint was the parking lot by the ramps, which reminded me of my last trip to the well-cratered moon. A few yards of stone would make the place perfect. We headed north down the creek toward the bay, moving slowly through the &uot;no wake&uot; zones, enjoying the beauty of nature. It is a charming creek and a pleasure to travel in a small boat or canoe. It’s very quiet along there and well worth the effort. We came home with a bucket of nice-sized croakers caught on 50 cents worth of squid, another reason why it’s great to live here.

Remember Kathy Ferguson? She was the ex-wife of Trooper Danny Ferguson. Danny was co-defendant along with Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones case. Kathy was found in her living room with a gunshot to her head. It was ruled a suicide even though there were several packed suitcases, as if she was leaving. Bill Shelton, her fiance criticized the suicide ruling. He was found dead of a gunshot wound at her gravesite. Ruled suicide. Then there was Herschel Friday, attorney and Clinton fund raiser who died when his plane exploded. And let’s not forget Johnny Lawhorn Jr., the mechanic who found a check made out to Bill Clinton in the trunk of a car left at his repair shop. He was found dead after his car hit a utility pole. I just wish Sadamn had been connected to Bill.

Representative Sheila Jackson played a bizarre race card recently. She is upset because no African-American names have been planned for this year’s hurricanes.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist.