Written by Pearl Harris
A group of friends gathered a few days ago and we were telling things of the past. I told the story of my green hat that got me on a bus during the war to go where my soldier husband was stationed. As you know – or most of you know me – I’m a country girl – until the was I had never been any further from Junction City than El Dorado and Ruston. So, when my soldier husband called and said he needed me, I bought a bus ticket to Tampa, Florida which was a pretty good distance from Bernice. He was stationed on McDill Air Force Base in Tampa training as a tail gunner on a B-26 Bomber. I had no trouble getting a seat on the bus to Monroe. But when we changed buses at Jackson, Mississippi, they only took soldiers first. I had sat by a soldier from Monroe to Jackson and he was on his way to Pensacola, Florida. They filled the bus at Jackson with soldiers and a few seats were left, so they called for soldiers’ wives. Well, I had no husband on the bus so I didn’t step up. They called again – and I didn’t move. So the bus drives called “Hey, you lady with the green hat – your husband said “Come on”. I looked and it was the soldier I had sat by from Monroe to Jackson – so I got to get on the bus on my way to Tampa. We had a good laugh – the man was a career soldier about 45 years old – that was old to a 23 year old person. He left the bus at Pensacola and I got into the bus station in Tampa at midnight on New Year’s Eve. There were drunken and sick people lying on the benches. I had never seen a drunk person before. I immediately called a taxi to take me to the address where I was supposed to have a room. My husband had to return to the base at midnight, so he wan’t there to meet me. I gave the cab driver the address on the telegram and we rode all over Tampa looking for that street and house number. It wasn’t to be found so about 2 a.m. I returned to the bus station-scared to death. But I saw a Western Union Station across the street, so I showed them the telegram and in checking they had made a mistake on the address, and then gave me the correct one. I called another cab and went to that address and knocked on the door at 2 a.m. Guess what! They had just gotten home from a New Year’s Party and were about half – or maybe more – drunk. I finally made them remember I was a soldier’s wife and had a room there. Well, I locked that door and cried until my soldier husband got there about 10 o’clock, and by that time the couple had sobered up. We were not there but 2 weeks until he was transferred. I was thankful because the slogan of McDill Field was “A 26 a day in Tampa Bay”.
So, that’s the story of my green hat!