I was sorting through some boxes of old books with the intent of giving away as many as possible to the upcoming library sale when I came across this photograph. It had endured a fire in 1969 when I was living on a boat in the Berkeley Marina. At that time I had my stuff stored in a garage. Unfortunately some kids playing with fire nearby accidentally burned up the garage and most of what I had stored there, including this photo. Fortunately it was only half gone and my face survived, but a good part of the rest was cropped away and what is visible here was substantially photoshopped back to a semblance of the original.
That’s me sitting in a T-33 jet trainer at Laredo Air Force Base, Texas, in 1960. It was a routine setup situation where a photographer lines up his clients and each one gets to pose for a few seconds and then quickly moves on. At this point in my military career I was doing extremely well, except for my officer-like qualities, upon which I was rated very poorly. I never understood why they kept telling me that I wasn’t trying hard enough, when I was usually getting top grades in my class of sixty students. I think I understand better now. It’s because I wasn’t playing the military game very well. I was obeying everything I was told to do, and doing it well, but I was just doing it without pretending a lot of struggle and enthusiasm. I think that attitude shows in this photo. I got my wings, but a year later both the Air Force and I decided I could serve our country better as a civilian and we parted ways amiably.
The military life isn’t for everyone.