Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Journal of a Living Lady #395
Nancy White Kelly

April Fool’s Day passed without much notice this year. In former times, I have been both the victim and perpetrator of April Fool jokes.

Looking back, the most memorable prank could have landed me in jail for mail tampering or in prison for impersonating an officer. The back-firing joke could also have made me a young widow. I am certain that Buddy’s tachycardia began that day. Eventually I was forgiven, but the hoax has never been forgotten.

To avoid the draft, seventeen-year-old Buddy joined the Navy during the Korean War. He figured his odds of surviving were better on water than on land. He spent four years on a navy Destroyer. Withstanding horrendous temperatures, Buddy’s job was to convert sea water to potable H2O.

When the time finally arrived for his discharge, Buddy’s superior officer tried unsuccessfully to get him to extend his tour. All my home-sick, Mississippi sailor wanted was to go home.

Buddy had sent money home monthly for his parents to save for his education. He dreamed of being a pilot. Unfortunately Buddy’s father spent all that money. Times were tough in Mississippi. A few weeks later, with a few dollars and a revived spirit, Buddy enrolled in the aircraft mechanics program at Emory Riddle School of Aviation in Miami. He put himself through by washing dishes.

After graduation and a brief stint with Pan American, Eastern Airlines transferred Buddy to Memphis. He met me in church and the rest is history.
Buddy’s mother had a great sense of humor and taught Sunday school most of her life. We connected. One April Fool’s Day I called home while she was visiting. Usually calm, Mama Kelly skipped the small talk.

“Nancy, did you by any chance send Buddy a notice from the United States Navy?” I laughed and admitted my guilt. Obviously my meticulously prepared mail had arrived right on April Fool’s Day.

Mother Kelly said Buddy tore open the official-looking letter, complete with his DD2-14 number, and read the notice:”We regret to inform you that an audit of your personnel file indicates that you have six months remaining to serve. Please report…”

Buddy bit. Oh, how he bit. While I was explaining my prank to his mother, Buddy was on a neighbor’s phone calling the Pentagon. Mother Kelly dropped the phone and rushed over to stop Buddy from saying or doing no telling what.

One thing I am certain of: While genuinely patriotic, Buddy would never return to the Navy, come hell, high water or a brigade of four-star generals.
April Fool’s Day has quietly come and gone again. It’s a good thing…a very good thing.

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