Coming of Age Summer

Dad’s last military orders were to Fort Knox, Kentucky after he returned from Vietnam. We werent’t there for long as shortly after getting to Fort Knox, dad became tired of being in the Army and retired after eight months of being there.

We got there in around June and that summer at Fort Knox is what I call my coming of age summer – it was magical for me. Again, surrounded by military kids, it was what I knew and loved. We lived in the Pritchard Place housing area which is across the highway from the gold vault. My best friend that summer was Pam who is the same age as me. She was there visiting her sister, Theresa and family for the summer. I missed her when she went back home and went with Theresa and her family a few times to visit with Pam before we moved from Fort Knox.

I kept eyeing a guy who lived in the building behind us outside watering either their garden. It wasn’t until a few weeks later we finally met. Rick became my boyfriend, my first boyfriend.

Many of the kids in Pritchard Place hung out throughout the day and into the evening. During the summer it didn’t get dark there until around 9 p.m. The  tree next to our apartment was where many of us sat, sung, hung out, made out – that tree became known as the kissing tree (in the picture above).  Ric often played Love is All Around by the Troggs on his guitar. He tried to show me how to play the guitar, but with no luck of my learning it.

One evening Ric and his friend Sam were outside our apartment and threw rocks at my window to get my attention. This made me feel special – guys rocks at my window! Sam later became Pam’s boyfriend, and we all spent a lot of time together. Pam, Ric and I walked crossed the highway to get a picture of the gold vault. Brandy You’re a Fine Girl, Saturday in the Park, Claire and many other songs from that era played on the radio. Knowing I love the band Chicago, Pam gave me my first Chicago album. Every time I hear those songs I think of Pam and Fort Knox.

Ric and I, and sometimes Pam, would often walk to the small PX located in Pritchard Place. When it was just Ric and I, we usually stopped to make-out before going back home. The chapel was in Pritchard Place and Ric and I would sometimes walk together to the chapel for Sunday Mass. Glenn was driving by then, so we also got to go places on the post. To the movies, the bowling alley and even went to the Patton Museum. It was all great! Pam invited me to go with her sister Theresa and children to the beach which was so much fun.

It was always good to meetup with an Army brat friend from the past. Sometimes in the military we would see and go to school with kids we knew in other places. While at Fort Knox,  Jesse who I knew from Hanau was there. I also saw and talked to him at a football game in Worms after leaving Hanau. And now he was in Fort Knox. And although I did not know Robert, who had been a boyfriend of my friend Jane in Worms, he was in my study hall in Fort Knox. It was always cool to run into someone I knew before as when Glenn came running home in Hanau to tell us that Cindy, a girl we knew in Giessen, was now living in Hanau.

Last year while visiting my stepdaughter Colleen in Michigan, we stopped to visit Pam, then we went to Fort Knox. The Army post is still there, but what I knew as Pritchard Place was torn down to make way for single housing dwelling. The chapel is still there along with a small school building that was by the small PX (post exchange) in the housing area. The kissing tree is no longer there, but the memories of that summer and that tree will forever be near and dear to me.