Sometimes you see something that brings you back to a moment in time. This happened to me a while back at the post office. One of my friendly local postal clerks, Denise, weighed my package and as I wrote the check, I realized that I had a pen in my hand that I hadn’t seen in years. The simple, black U. S. Government – Skilcraft that had been in my hand for eleven years. I was allowed to “accidently” take the pen with me, and I am looking at it as I write this column. Just the sight of this thing brings back the years that I used this very style pen to sign my life over to that U. S. Government.
At 21, after deciding that the regular customers at the HoJo’s restaurant on I-95 in beautiful Mystic, Connecticut were a wonderful group that could not be counted on to provide me a livable income until age 65, I knew I had to make a change. After an early morning shift I drove my VW Bug down to New London and met my first Navy recruiter, carrying a very similar government issued pen, which I used to sign a lot of promissory pages until I could be tested to see if I was just going to paint rocks white or possibly learn an honest to God profession. The choice of the Navy was just to be expected. I was born near a Navy Base in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, grew up in a huge Navy port, Newport, Rhode Island and was presently living in the Naval Submarine Capital, Groton, Connecticut.
Another black Skilcraft was available for my testing day and then my true enlistment for 6 years of active duty, in exchange for traveling to Orlando, Florida for basic training and then on to Millington, Tennessee for Air Traffic Control school. My claim to “fame” was that I was the only Navy member (and the only female) in a class of 15 active duty Marines AND …wait for it….graduated top of the class. The Navy Admiral that conducted our graduation leaned in smiling while shaking my hand and whispered “Oorah, Sailor”. Better than just these long held bragging rights, this allowed me to choose my first duty station which of course had to be another island – Barbers Point, Ewa Beach, Hawaii.
Many black Skilcraft U.S. Government pens (1 used for re-enlistment on the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii) later, I finished 11 years at that same base, although my OD green, government issued seabag was a bit heavier when checking out, considering I had given birth to my 3 girls while on island.