I apologize for length of this post. Today I end a 40+ year relationship with the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Everything started for me at Happy Days Preschool (now the CDC) the base preschool. I went on to attend Frank Knox Elementary School (now DOD offices and classrooms) for Kindergarten and 5th grade. I learned to read in that building.
I was taught by my mom who was a teacher there for many years until they closed the school. I roller skated down the hallways and in cafeteria, played Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego in the library, and enjoyed the school carnival, science fairs and school performances in the gym. I made friends at Happy Days and Frank Knox that I still have today. I remember every nook and cranny of that building. My Kindergarten room is now the pass office and every time I go in there I’m reminded of how my mom’s room was right down the hall, the wood paneling walls, the cardboard dress up people (you know the kind that you stick your face and hands through), and of the little courtyard where we played recess. We had a garden plot over by the laundry that both my aunt and uncle worked at. We shopped at the Commissary (now a grove of remembrance trees) and the Exchange (now an office building), played in the gym, and swam at the base pool. I saw my first rated R movie (Stripes) with my unsuspecting mom and during Christmas we would shop at the huge warehouse they called TOYLAND!
As I got older, the gym was the place to go and watch all the boys playing basketball or where I would pretend to get my workout on while watching the boys play basketball. One of my closet friends lived on the base and we shared many a sleep over giggling about New Kids on the Block and talking about boys. We had our proms at the Officer’s Club and Project Graduation at the Drill Hall. We’d go to the beach on the Chesapeake (water you couldn’t pay me to go in now) and there was that one time Crystal and I went canoeing. My boyfriend junior year lived on the base and I remember having dinner on his parents boat at the marina. When I came home from college on visits, we would go to the club on the base. The base club years were the BEST, 18 to get in. I didn’t need to drink, I just needed to dance . Everything was good until my ID expired.
Oh the memories. People, places, events to numerous to name them all. I didn’t come on this base again until I was hired in 2003, as a clothing engineer for Human Systems. Just coming off the best experience of my life (design school), I was ready to use my skills to make a difference. Wow, what a journey it has been. I made good friends and saw many of them move on. My eyes were opened up to a world that I never knew existed just over the fence. You see, my childhood home was just across the road from base property. I had my wedding reception at the Beachhouse and Cam had quite a few birthday parties at the same theater I saw Stripes in. Like his mom and dad, he attended the CDC (Happy Days) until it was time for him to start Kindergarten. I’ve seen this base change a lot. Things have changed but I still have my memories. These past 14 years have shaped me into the woman that I am today but I realize that this base has always been a part of my story from the very beginning and as much as I complained I wouldn’t change a thing. There was money and then no money, there was good management and bad management and REALLY BAD MICROMANAGEMENT. I’ll tell you what, my prayer life has certainly strengthened. There were times when stress was a meal that I eat from the minute I sat at my desk until the end of the day. But there were also laughs. Meeting people like Julee, Lanita, Al, Tyce, Liz (Hey Flossie), Rachel, Joan, Kristie, DJ, Eric (Hangin Tough), Adrienne, Jim, even Wendy and so many others, I know that I’ve been truly blessed. My 14 years here have made me smarter, more confident, more skilled, more accepting, and more knowledgeable and what I’ve learned will only make me better for the next half of my life story.
So now I move on to a new group of people, a new set of challenges, a new mission, I know that I’m equipped to handle anything because I’ve worked in 4.6 and I’ve worked with PMA-202 (look up Jim Jones French Guyana) and I survived with my faith and hope intact. So I say for myself “Fair Winds and Following Seas”.