March 12, 2014 – Letters from Al, 1966-67

March 12, 2014

Dear Alsie,

            Remember the letter you wrote dated August 16, 1966? You were about to go out on a mission, a big one, and said that I wouldn’t be receiving the letter unless something happened to you. The envelope had no postmark. I figured it came home with you from Vietnam and somehow ended up with all the letters from you that I’d saved. Well, today I came across a letter dated August 21, 1966. This one was mailed. Aug 21 1966 worry

 You’d only been gone for a month. We’d only been married for three and, like you said in your letter, only known each other for a year and half—most of that time spent apart. “What if she finds someone else?” The she you write of is me, your wife, and what an ache it makes nearly fifty years later to read those words and know this worry was with you. Didn’t we marry too soon, too early, so you wouldn’t have doubts? I guess doubts come with the territory; by “territory” I mean “being human”.  And we were both so very human, full of worry and loneliness and doubts about what our futures would be. If you’d come home. If I’d be there for you. I didn’t doubt that I would. But you did. So sorry, my ghost, that you did. So sorry that worry was with you.

Turning page one of your letter over, I read details of your earlier mission—the one you mentioned in your letter of August 16. Aug 21 1966 worry 2

 On page 2 you write, Wow, who wants a purple heart? You hadn’t received your first one yet. Nor the second one. Nor the third. It was a long thirteen months you were gone. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Three times, Alsie, three times “close” counted for you.

Page 3:

Aug 21 1966 worry 3Is it odd that I don’t want to deal with these letters? The above one from you and this poor excuse for an answer? Honestly, if this response was handwritten on paper, I would’ve crumpled the papers a dozen times by now and started again on new sheets. And if the paper was in short supply, you’d find so many scratched out areas it’d be like hunting for Easter eggs in tall grass to find three words together that made any sense.

Here’s the thing. I don’t like war. I don’t like reading about grenades and firefights and all hell breaking loose, about one man killed, five wounded, about the guys being edgy, or you, showered in mud from explosions. I don’t like the booby-trapped grenades left in front of your lines or the image of a VC setting one off. Did that VC lose a foot like you would eventually do three days before your time to ship home? Did he die? Was he alone in that moment?

My brown-eyed boy, it’s best if I close this letter and wait until I’m in a better state of mind. You wrote much the same thing on the first page of your letter, wanting to wait until you were “happier,” so I know you’ll understand.

Love, love, love,

Lynnsie

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22 Comments

  1. I used to ask Al to say his full name out loud. Why? I guess it was the most melodic, poetic name (most certainly of any fellow Marine I knew) and I think he actually got a kick out of hearing his name out loud. So he was never Al Doiron to me. He was always Alphonse Leon Doiron…Yup. I even met you once, Lynne. On this day in Wisconsin (5 degrees) 1-4-2017 I’ve gotten shivers from reading the ‘California Chronicles’…hope to write more…

    Reply

    1. Your comment makes me smile, remembering the sound of his name as spoken by his mom or grandmother (Belgian). It was “melodic” — is “melodic” — and I will let his namesake grandson (25) know that I’m not the only one who thinks so. When did we meet? Were you one of the boys who stayed at our Riverside apartment on your way out to a ranch in the desert?

      Reply

      1. Dear Lynne,
        A friend and I were at your apartment, maybe August or September of 1968 for a get together..Not sure how this all came about, but I must have tracked you guys down sometime after we arrived home from Vietnam Nam. I have to interrupt my thoughts for a second to tell you that I have never written to anyone EVER whom I was connected with at that era of my life. Why? Like many, I just don’t look on
        that time in the service like maybe our fathers looked on their time during WW2 as a kind of romantic era.
        Meanwhile, ‘back to the ranch’. No, we were not on our way to a ranch. So that was someone else at another time, perhaps. But this might narrow it down for you. I think you and Al owned a 1950s Porsche or someone at the party did..Someone drove us to the store to get more Coors and on the return trip to your place, the driver decided to demonstrate how this wonderful sports car could make a 90 degree turn at 35mph……..but he prematurely turned into a parking lot-over a concrete abutment- (Coors was a major contributing factor) and severely damaged the rims on that beautiful car…I’m sorry, Lynne, this story has gone south..
        But this may bring back a recollection back to you. Lots of laughing, good times, did I mention Coors?
        If you would like me burden you with any more, let me know, Lynne..

        Seems like almost yesterday sometimes..
        Best!
        Tom Evenson

  2. I can’t think who owned the Porsche. But the curb incident and the Coors run ring a bell in my memory. The August/September 1968 date places us at the apartment complex off Hwy. 60 in the Pedley, CA area. The month Al was due home I’d moved from my grandma’s into a duplex near Riverside Community College and enrolled him for the Fall term. I think I was there for two weeks before the telegram arrived listing his injuries. The duplex landlord was cool, reimbursed the security deposits, etc., and I found the apartment off 60. Part of a retirement complex, the units had wider doors for wheelchair access and rail supports in the tub and near the john, plus a nine-hole golf course that ran down the middle.

    I recall one particularly wild party at that place, a party that must have run dry at some point and needed a resupply. The arm of an overstuffed and outdated sofa I’d bought at a yard sale caught on fire when someone’s cigarette rested too long against the worn, tweed upholstery. We doused it with beer. Next morning’s floors and sinks were a disaster, butts ground out on the floor, spills everywhere, stunk to high heaven–like a beer joint gone bad.

    Since our firstborn (of three) came into the world on November 8, 1968 (by the way, it blows my mind to know I have son 48 years old … daughters 44 and 45 … a grandson [Alphonse Leon Doiron] 25, two more grandsons 16 and 9, and three granddaughters (22, 13, and 5), I like to think I wasn’t drinking at that Sept./Aug. stage of my pregnancy … but more than likely (yes, this is one of those sentences that runs on forever!) I was doing my part with alcoholic intake.

    Thank you for bringing back “the recollection”. And, Yes, feel free to burden me with more whenever the mood strikes.

    Reply

    1. Dear Lynne,
      It’s 1AM SUNDAY . Just read your reply and will write more later today . Hope you are below the ‘Pineapple Express’ …
      Best,
      TomE

      Reply

    2. Tom again,
      Since your last name has probably been mispronounced so much, the least I could do is spell your first name correctly-LYNN not Lynne.
      Dear Lynn,
      I have one son (39), and my wife, Kay, has two sons, daughters in law, and five grandchildren. Not quite the wonderful menagerie you have amassed!
      I will get back to my ‘stay’ in California in ’68’ for a moment. I seriously considered staying after discharge, but decided it best to go back Wisconsin (La Crosse) and resume school at UW-La Crosse. After a couple more years, I decided that Econ-101, Philosophy, World Civilization, and, yes, Creative Writing were robbing me of precious persuit of women and alcohol, so I moved on to marriage. So Ben came into our lives. The marriage lasted 22 years but, thank goodness, Ben and I talk every day at 5:05 pm so, as Bill Murray would say, ‘I got that goin’ for me’!

      Not a lot of continuity or flow going here, but I walked away from my foundering relationship with Bombay Blue Sapphire 5 years ago. I read your little tequila ditty. That stuff is wonderful, mellifluous, and sneaky….
      Not believing in a ‘higher power’ I quit on my own. But I still make Bloody Marys for Kay (a dash of Claussen Pickle juice is my secret) . Virgin Mary’s work fine for me. I’ve never tried one, but I’ve heard Hurry Marys are okay (vodka and prune juice)..
      Best for now,
      Tom

      Sent from my iPad

      Reply

      1. Tom — This is fun, great fun for me. The truth is that for a short while, let’s say during the 7th or 8th grade pimply years, I added an “e” to the end of my name. Nothing else was going on so why not slide off that second “n” with a little loop-tee-doo–right? (I may have even tried replacing the “y” with an “i” so I’d have a letter to dot with a heart.)

        They are a wonderful menagerie. Thank you for introducing me to yours. I like your Ben and that you talk everyday at 5:05. Me and mine sometimes go days if not weeks between conversations. It seems to work for us. They still love me well enough and I adore all of them. Tomorrow I head north from Mexico to Santa Barbara and on Friday we (all 3 with their awesome spouses) board a plane bound for New Orleans to celebrate my departure from the sixtieth decade and entrance into the next. (Sorry if this reads like a journal entry — I’ve done more writing since reading your initial comment on this site than I’d done in months. Not certain why.) (Just deleted a whole bunch of verbiage trying to answer the why … decided it doesn’t much matter.)

        Blue Sapphire — such a pretty bottle. I keep one in my freezer for friends. The same bottle’s been there for several months now while the Grey Goose (also for friends) gets replaced every now and again. The tequila, well, hmm. With the tequila I must remind myself on occasion: Tequila is NOT my friend.

        Have you been to New Orleans? Do you write? And if you do, do you post your work anywhere? Have I said Thank you for reading some of mine? Have I mentioned that you’ve prompted me to dip into and read old posted work here and, on occasion, I find things I actually like? Dull stuff, too, and curious things that I wonder what the hell I was thinking about at the time. Anyway, thanks. Really.

        Best thoughts,
        lynn(e)

      2. Happy 70 in advance, Lynn!
        I’m adjusting quite well, having turned 70 last May 14. I think I’ve got more in touch with my Peter Pan alter ego. I joke about having become a narcissistic misanthrope and sometimes I wonder…
        Yes! I was in New Orleans in maybe ’95. We stayed in a wonderful little boutique hotel.
        Saw Harry Connick Sr. in concert. He was the long time DA of New Orleans, and moonlighted. I think his son dabbles in show business too…
        Could of seen Steve Winwood at House of Blues. ‘Back In The High Life Again’ is one of my favorites.
        Ran a 5K in a park and they served gumbo and Coors at the finish line.
        If you like churros, you’ll want to visit Cafe du Monde where tourists sit in the open air, listen to genuine jazz band play, drink chicory coffee and (tradition) blow powdered sugar on each other while eating a beignet (messy but wonderful)..
        Brennans is the birthplace of ‘Bananas Foster’ and great cuisine. We were told by our waiter that Mr. & Mrs. Paul Newman were ‘regulars’.
        A large platter of oysters (raw, of course) one night..
        This concludes Conde’ Nast sampler🍤
        Have to watch the President’s Farewell speech now..
        Frightened about what’s to come….
        Seventy is SWELL!!
        More soon, Tom

      3. I never knew a platform like WordPress existed. I’m trying to get comfortable with Facebook because one in eight people in the world are on Facebook. I am not one to just lay everything out to the entire universe. So I discovered a place where I could feel almost instantly at home. How delightful for me.
        So now I can write.. I’m certain that when Al first told me that Al ‘Dorian’ was acceptable, mom and dad had a much loftier sounding name in mind- Alfonce Layown
        Dwarown or something like that…
        So Lynn, do you still endure, accept, surrender to ‘Dorian’ or can you indulge yourself the luxury of Doiron? So, things have rattled around in my brain for all my adult life. Apparently, Al’s name has been there always..
        Do I write and where can you find my writings? Here. No platform. I have been a lover of words, phrases, lyrics -probably since my 11th grade Latin class.
        Kay has to restrain me some mornings when the puns, spoonerisms, double entendres,, etc. become a little exhausting even for her..
        Of all cities in North America to be on the news yesterday, Rosarito was front and center. Golly gee! I just became aware of Rosarito, WordPress, and Lynn Doiron, all in one swell foop….
        Hope you don’t have to hitchhike to Santa Barbara…
        Best!
        Tom

    3. Sent from my iPhone

      Begin forwarded message:

      From: tom evenson <captcranberry@hotmail.com> Date: January 28, 2017 at 10:54:55 PM CST To: “lynnsie_d@yahoo.com” <lynnsie_d@yahoo.com> Subject: Fwd: My son and other good stuff

      Sent from my iPhone

      Begin forwarded message:

      Reply

  3. Hello Friend — Here we are, on a public forum, a public forum that virtually no one other than you and I visit, exchanging banter as if we’d known each other for mor than a week (maybe two). Please excuse any errors I make this evening in my reply … I have been playing Social Bridge (wine involved) and post-social birdge (wine also involved) since 11 a.m. west coast time today. It is now 7:33 p.m. (Dell computer time) and I wanted to leace at least a short response to your last two comments. One part of the response, the part that seemed at least a little important a moment ago, is that a place I visit to frequently write is http://www.750words.com Whatever you write is private. I go there (sometimes) because I used to be a “writer” and if you/I don’t write everyday then I can’t say I am a writer. At 750words.com I can write the same word over and over and over again 750 times and nobody ares or sees what I’ve done — but I never end up writing the same word over and over again — something (let’s call it imagination or perhaps memory or maybe a combination of the two) takes hold and I (if lucky) write a paragraph (long or short) that has a glimmer of merit.

    Thank you for the birthday greetings. I never thought to make it this far. I’m healthy and all (pretty much) but I always figured something (a blown tire going too fast on the interstate or a chicken bone, a stumble down a long flight of stairs. a hit and run as I crossed a street or a maniac in a shopping mall with an AK47) would end my days as abruptly and shockingly as Al’s life ended. Yet here I am.

    Must ask … why was Rosarito in the news in Wisconsin? Did it have anything to do with the privitization of Pemex? The protests over gas price increases? It’s pretty awful for the Mexican regulars down here. Many work for $25 a day (or less) and the dollar-plus increase on gasoline is outrageous. But, will leave that topic alone. (I swore off watching news of any kind about 45 years ago.) (Some dribbles in, nonetheless. It’s like living in a smog-filled city. It’s part of the air. No way to avoid it.)

    To repeat … I’m more than a little watered with wine as I write and, as a result, I keep going back to your two earlier letters to use as compasses with this response.

    I loved New Orleans. Unfortunately, it was a a holiday weekend. Lots of folks there. Lines like Disneyland to enter DuMonde and other recommended venues. But the company (my 3 kids and their lovely spouses) was better than the best and we all indulged to the max. Great fun. Great music. I bought a CD by a street act we watched (St. Cinder) and I have no buyer’s remorse having listened to it here at home.

    Hope to hear from you again. (Can’t begin to tell you how many typos I’ve fixed, and here I am in this altered state! but hope there’s enough content to keep you writing and sending thoughts my way.) best thoughts, lynn

    Reply

    1. Welcome to the Age of Septuagenarious, one of my favorite (Fifth Dimension) songs…
      How did we get this far and why not Al , too.. I’ve played hopscotch in the middle of the freeway in rush hour numerous times and managed to jump in the existential ditch to live another and another and another game of hopscotch in another rush hour…

      My older brother had to cut short our conversation on the telly today because, HE WAS PLAYING BRIDGE! Outrageous!
      But, golly gee, Ron, what if I don’t survive my hopscotch session and this is our last conversation?
      And of course he would say,’ how could you equate my playing BRIDGE with your pedestrian game of hopscotch?’ And the conclusion might be that tomorrow I might not find the safety of the side of the road, but all those people in rush hour will get back home to resume their rubber match…
      But most important , you and the family are back home, safe, sound, and seventy….
      Happy Birthday, Lynn!

      And if anyone asks, no, I’m not bitter about Bridge…..

      Reply

    2. So sorry, I forgot to sign off..
      And to answer the question, why was Rosario in the news in Wi?
      I think I read it in The New York Times. The president of Mexico has decided to deregulate the petroleum industry so folks were heading north to some place where the gas pumps weren’t dry. It was some area above Baja, I think maybe it was called ‘California’?
      My very best, Lynn
      Tom

      Reply

    3. Lynnsie,
      It’s getting late, but haven’t heard from you for a while..
      I had this very disturbing thought that you might have a misgiving that I am not a ‘real’ ex Marine, friend of Al and somehow this has been all cyber manufactured? Hopefully, I am just suffering temporary paranoia. From the first day I landed in DaNang, I decided that I should not be there and this was all wrong. But I became company radio man for India 3/9 and was on duty when the call came in from Al’s squad out in the jungle. I’m so sorry that my reminiscences have trickled in, so to speak. Of course the next time I saw Al was with you in Riverside.
      Hope you are well. Have absolutely been delighted to have read your postings to know you have come through all that has been thrown at you and especially to shared even fun inconsequential little musings with you.

      Always best thoughts ,
      Tom

      Reply

      1. No misgivings here — “temporary paranoia” must be the answer. Re: my lack of response … there’s a pile of excuses sitting smack in the middle of one of these rooms (the upstairs ocean-facing bedroom with its new stain on the ceiling from heavy rains and an unidentified leak on the roof; or in the other bedroom, the one facing the hills in the east, with its three new water stains on the ceiling; or maybe the excuses are piled downstairs in the living room where the ceiling has endured so many leaks the tape has peeled to hang in two and three foot lengths like fly paper, sofa, chairs, tables, etc. pushed hither and yon to make room for pots and a five gallon bucket [a bucket I empty 3-4 gallons of water from daily] to catch the leaks). Every room is (how to phrase?) less than serene. I attend to the chaos by ducking around and/or under the tape hangings, ignoring partially unpacked suitcases from recent travels, drinking coffee in the morning and beer or wine in the afternoon, playing bridge, and knitting, The rain has stopped. The sun is shining. I need to find a reliable roof repair person. I need to buy groceries. I need to renew my SENTRI card. I need to respond to my ex-Marine Wisconsin friend …

        When you write that you received the call on Al, do you mean the call regarding his last tango with booby-trapped hand grenades? And did you know him before then? You must’ve, if you had him repeat his lovely poetic name. Tell me more, if it’s there to tell.

        Apologies for non-responsiveness on my part. Have been overwhelmed of late and I deal with overwhelm-ed-ness by waiting it out. (I once watched an uprooted tree float down the flooded creek bordering our place in Cottonwood,CA. There was a rabbit riding the trunk of that tree in a rabbit’s frantic way but with limited space for darting this way and that. I thought at the time the rabbit would do better if he/she calmed her racing heart and let the current move her where it would.)

        best thoughts,
        lynn rabbit doiron

      2. Dear Lynn,
        The weather looks to be dry and breezy in Rosarito for the next week or more…..-so I would call my Dad during such a dilemna and he might say, ‘Well, at least you’ve got your health’….at which point I might say-screw my health, Dad, I just want the goddamn roof to stop leaking!
        And he would , at that moment, realize that fixing a leaky roof took priority over life itself (in my irrational way of thinking..)
        This my way of saying- you have my complete empathy! I would guess Cottonwood sends their sympathy too.
        If you type in: ‘Lake Delton home swept away’ on YouTube, you might conclude-MOUNTAIN/molehill. Forces of nature do not play favorites..if you are in her path, kindly step aside. Is ‘Mother Nature’ meteorological misogyny?
        So sorry. I seem to have digressed from empathy for a moment…
        Moving forward to the past, there is somewhat vague chronology as to the sequence of what happened when -in 66,67. But yes, the last time that Al and I had contact was just before his squad went out and he encountered the trip wire.
        Yes. We were friends before that.
        Something clicked between us to the point that I ended up at a party in Riverside with the two of you and others.
        Al very well could have asked me at some point, -‘Where you from, Tom? ‘ And I said, Wisconsin..
        And he said-‘Oh, what state is that in?….’. that is now referred to as ‘California Elitist Sarcasm’… Which, little did he know at that moment, was just the perfect insult to the beginning of a warm friendship…quick wit was a great fit!..
        More to say. Relieved that you are safe if a little soggy.

        My best as always,
        Tom

  4. Breezy? Hellfire and all that goes with it … major Santa Ana winds, requiring heavy-duty string tied off securely to furniture inside mi casa to keep the window still … otherwise it blows out big time … am amazed the darned thing hasn’t already shattered.

    Another day of cards and wine leaves me speechless…. tell me more about Ben and also about Kay ….

    Reply

    1. Hi Lynnsie,
      Resent letter on Kay & Ben that I previously sent to your Yahoo acct.
      Hope it reaches you this time. My mother was an avid bridge player, so tell me more about your love for social bridge…
      Always best,
      Tom

      Reply

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