THE VERDICT; THE AFTERMATH; A NEW BILLET
After what seemed like an eternity, we were led back into Captain Barker’s office, and stood at attention, awaiting the expected word that we were going to boot camp. Captain Barker said that the charges against us were very serious, and that we deserved to be discharged from the NROTC, but based on our good records, and since we were so close to graduation, that he was making a very special exception, and instead of releasing us from the NROTC, we were both “to be restricted to the barracks for the balance of the semester.” With great relief, but without trying to show it, I said,
”Thank you, sir.”
Avedon said something similar, and we were dismissed.
After the euphoria of not going to boot camp was over, I began to think about the restrictions placed on us. The semester had just started, and this was Parm’s last semester at UCLA before she graduated. After I got off restriction, I would have one more semester before I received my commission and graduated, but Parm wouldn’t be there that semester. I had no car, gasoline was rationed anyway, so how was I to see her before we were separated, for who knew how long. It was better than getting ‘washed out’ and going to boot camp, but I still didn’t like it. All of my fellow cadets sympathized with my situation, so with the cooperation of my roommates and the ‘mate of the deck,’ I managed to sneak out several evenings a week to visit Parm at the Theta house, about half a mile away.
One of my shipmates at Riney Hall, who apparently spent more time looking out the window than studying, had noticed that a young man regularly called on a young lady at an apartment on the next street, which was visible from the east windows of Riney Hall. He would pick her up in his car, leave, apparently for dinner, and return later, parking in front of her apartment for a while before she went inside. It appeared that a little ‘smooching’ may have been going on in the car, but we couldn’t see well enough in the dark to confirm it. Eventually someone was walking down the street one evening and recognized the young man – ‘Red’ Skelton, the radio and movie comedian. When this fact was learned, a bigger audience resulted in Riney Hall for the nocturnal visits.
One evening while I was still restricted to the barracks, and had joined my friends on a small balcony, keeping an eye on the couple now parked in the car, we decided on a plan: when we thought it a good time – just before the young lady would depart – we all yelled in unison, ”I doo’d it!” (an expression Skelton used regularly on his radio comedy show.) With that, Mr. Skelton got out of his car, bowed in our direction, waved, and got back in the car. We then gave him a big round of applause and cheers, and never intruded on his visits again. The young lady was Georgia, who not long afterwards became Mrs. Skelton.
I finally got off restriction at the end of the semester, just in time to attend Parm’s graduation in Royce Hall in February, 1944. I still had another semester to go. Even though I had completed eight semesters, I needed one more semester to complete my NROTC course. I also needed 26 more units of University courses to complete the requirements for my B.A. degree.
New cadet-officers were chosen in the NROTC program, and I was appointed Supply Officer, on the staff of Battalion Commander Leon Cooper. I was given my own private room, around the corner from Cooper’s room on the first floor, near the main entrance. Were Commanders Chadwick and Warren trying to compensate for the months of confinement they had given me, or what? For whatever reason, I was grateful for the promotion. There wasn’t much for me to do in the new job, except make sure everyone got fresh towels every morning, and a change of bed linen each week, the actual work being done by an outside contractor. One advantage was that I was excused from morning calisthentics, on the grounds that I was supervising the distribution of towels. Actually, I ‘slept in’ during that extra 15 minutes. I also marched to breakfast with the battalion staff, instead of the ‘troops,’ and on drill days, I wore an officer’s sword instead of carrying a rifle.
Several times during that last semester, Parm and her parents drove down to UCLA and the four of us had dinner together. They had access to gasoline, since they had their own gas pump on the ranch – for the tractors. I think they justified borrowing their own gasoline on the basis of keeping up the morale of the troops. Anyway, on the first of these occasions, just after picking me up, her father, Allyn, said there was a great ‘blue plate special’ at a nearby Thrifty Drug Store lunch counter, and did I mind if we went there. Before I could answer, Parm scolded her father for teasing me. I really had to be on my toes around Allyn because it was sometimes difficult to tell when he was kidding. Actually, we went to a very nice restaurant – Armstrong-Schroeder’s, in Beverly Hills, as I recall.
One afternoon I was in the SAE rooms over Tom Crumpler’s, having a ‘good bye’ beer with some of the ‘brothers,’ contemplating whether I would pour a little beer from the balcony onto the heads of some passing coeds on the sidewalk down below, when we heard on the radio that the expected invasion of Europe by the Allies had begun I heard the name Normandy for the first time. I felt a pang of guilt, standing there drinking beer, visualizing what must be happening thousands of miles away on the coast of France. The date was June 6, 1944.