I must admit that I am humbled and surprised by the response to yesterday’s post about the O’Club at Maxwell AFB. I really struck a nostalgic cord with so many of you. Of all the beautiful places and things that I have written about over the last three years this one received more shares and comments than any. I thought you might like to see a few more pictures and hear some of the stories that I didn’t tell last time.
Not coming from a military family, I found that this project came with a steep learning curve for me. I know what stars on the shoulder means and I can recognize a “full bird” since we have several of those in the extended family but beyond that, recognizing rank and understanding the roll they all played on the base was beyond me.
I was constantly jotting notes to myself: she is a captain but they say “cap’n” not captain. You can ask her to do this but not that.
He is a Colonel (and why is that pronounced with an r in it???) but he is also the Wing Commander which means he is everybody’s boss– ESPECIALLY mine.
Then there were the men from the penitentiary who were my workforce and indeed my life-line for getting this done. They became my mission field and we truly enjoyed working together. You could see the pain in their eyes so my goal everyday was to make them smile and enjoy that one day. I had some incredible talent to work with.
There was an older gentleman who was a master carpenter. He did all of the paneling in the upstairs bar and was so proud of it. He came up to us with tears in his eyes the last day to say how much he wished he could work with us some more.
There was a young man who was an incredible artist. He painted portraits of some of the former Wing Commanders and did these down in The Pit:
Can you even believe how realistic that is?
I already mentioned one of the musicians.. there were several. One played piano like Ray Charles and another sang. We sang harmony one day and I twirled happily around while waiting for approval to do something… there was a lot of that.
Probably the most fun for all of us was when we hit the 12 hour mark. We finally had the furniture. Corona was the next night and the VIP’s were already arriving.
Rank went right out the window. We had a job to get done and it was all hands on deck. About 10’clock that night I looked around to see the Wing Commander crawling around under a table plugging in lamps.
“Sir!, Please, no. I will do that.” I stammered.
He just grinned and kept right on working.
“Leave him alone,” the General who was hanging out with us said, “he hasn’t had this much fun in years.”
And so ended our journey. Jeff and I were invited back the next evening for the opening reception. The base was on high alert which meant we had to have special ID, pass through 4 checkpoints and get past the dogs to enter the club. It was the first time I had ever met a 3 star general.
The greatest reward? The look in “my bosses’ ” eyes as he stood in the background and watched the look on the faces of those seeing the club, his club, for the first time.
We did it.
We actually did it.