Jan. 2, 1936...It’s a quarter past two in the morning and I’m struggling for my first breath. My mommy is screaming with pain. She hollers at my daddy, “I’m gonna kill you for making me go through this, you son of a bitch.” Then she starts crying... during this whole ordeal I almost got hung swinging back and forth on the umbilical cord. After I was freed from the hanging cord the nurse slapped me silly. That’s about all I can remember about the day I was pulled out of my mommies womb. Accept I heard mommy apologize to daddy for calling him a son of a bitch.
Feb. 14, 1944...I remember this day just like it was yesterday. Imagine this if you can; my pet goat and I burnt the Old Sugar House Jail down and about 20 acres of weeds. Sure enough it was a multi-alarm fire and a blazing show for a whole bunch of our neighbors. As I recall this is how it happened; I tied the old goat to my little red wagon which by chance had a bale of hay in it then I set fire to the hay and old nanny took off running over the lawns and cross the fields to the deserted old jail house. I probably could have got away with it accept that old fool goat come back home with the evidence. Instead of being punished, I should have got a metal, you see the broken down jailhouse was an eye sore and I kept all those nasty weeds from spreading. Sounds like fiction, but it’s the truth and all it cost the community was a slice of humble pie. Congratulate me; my actions caused the main event on Valentine’s Day.
Jan. 15, 1947...This day was not as exciting as that day in 1944 but it’s a day my little brother and I set a record and our picture hit the front page of the newspaper. The picture alone was worth the price of the paper. I can’t explain how this happened but it happened and that’s a fact, you can find it in Ripley’s Believe it or Not. My brother and I passed childhood diseases back and forth until we both had nine diseases all at the same time. Let see, there was measles, whooping cough, chicken pox, mumps and, oh hell, I can’t remember all of them but we had em all. Now that’s some kind of record.
June 4, 1950...Talk about terror and total panic, before I do, let me ask you a question. What would you do if you thought you had killed a person? While you ponder away on that, I’ll tell you the story.
I was what most people would call I wild 14 year old who, by the way, thought he knew everything. I ran around with a wild bunch of kids that all fit that description. We all smoked, drank beer and loved to party. Oh yes, and we loved to play hooky. Drugs hadn’t hit the scene yet, so they weren’t a problem unless, of course, you call beer a drug.
Anyway, we all hung out with our own little groups, not malicious gangs like we have today, we were just a bunch of kids who looked for fun and like to bend the rules a little. However there was a rivalry between the groups in the different schools, for instance, we were in East High and we hated the kids in West High and vice versa. I’m starting to get this long and drawn out so let me get to the point.
Lucky Perkins a 15 year old was the leader of one of the West High Groups. He and I had, had several verbal altercations and we hated each other with a passion. Let me set the scene at the place where this whole extravaganza took place. The Morrison Meat Pie company had a lunch room especially for students located in the back of their establishment, right across the street from East High. They were from the old school and they didn’t care if we smoked. Their meat pies and chili were cheap and they were the best on the planet earth, so my group made it their official hangout.
It so happens that on this sun shiny day in June the west high group decided to give us a visit. All hell broke out when they entered our lunch room. Lucky was looking for me and I wasn’t about to back down in front of my friends. He shoved me up against the wall, I pushed back and he fell over one of the benches hitting his head on the iron stool. His eyes rolled back in his head and his tongue hung out one side of his mouth. Somebody screamed, “God damn it Billy you killed him, let’s get the hell out of here.” I hid under my grandmother’s front porch for three days, scared as all hell. I knew for sure I was going to spend the rest of my life in prison. Well, as it turned out I only knocked Lucky out and when he regained consciousness he was okay.
June 12, 1952...The reflections I’ve written down are not made up they are the product of my recollections. This next story you’re defiantly going to find hard to believe but believe it, it’s true. Lady Dyer was the boy’s counselor at East High she was actually a historical part of the institution. In other words she was one of the founding fathers or mothers whichever the case may be. On this day in June of 1952 she caught a whole bunch of us smoking, out in back of the Dairy Queen alongside the high school. She literally dragged us by our ears to her office and set us down on one of those cold hardwood benches. However we guys were the tough ones and we had our reputation to think about. This is not something that was planned it happened on the spur of the moment. One of my friends had a toy squirt gun that looked like the Real McCoy. He pulled it out and pointed it at Old Lady Dyer and in a harsh tough voice he told her to shut up and sit down, then we all joined the game. There was a roll of duct tape on Dyers desk so we duck taped her hands and feet to her chair and put duct tape over her mouth. Then we all lit up smokes, hooped and hollered and danced around her chair blowing smoke rings in her face.
Needless to say I was kicked out of school and the next 90 days I was a guest in the Grey Bar Hotel.
July 9, 1952... I joined the Peace Keeping Forces with a friend of mine, Bill Eager. I was only 16 so I had to lie about my age but my false ID was pretty convincing and Bill who was old enough vouched for me got me in without a question..
Aug 11, 1953...Bill and I were both students of martial arts so right away we were transferred to the Green Beret as martial arts instructors. In case you don’t know the Green Beret is it’s a distinct unit of the Special Operational Forces, men and women trained to accomplish the virtual impossible. Aug11, 1953 is the date the Green Beret was sent behind enemy lines to rescue 18 American officers; Major Mike Mitchell was one of them. It was my pleasure to lead this mission and everything went as smooth as Swiss Clockwork, and I’m proud to say I was honored with the medal of valor for conduct above and beyond the call duty, behind enemy lines. If that sounds like I’m bragging, well I am, I’m proud to be an American and I want everybody to know it. I also have a chest full of ribbons that I’ve framed and hung on a wall in my living room for all my friends to see.
Dec 15, 1953...This was the day I applied for a hardship leave of absence. Early in the morning I got a call informing me that my grandmother had, had a stroke and wasn’t expected to live. She was the bonding agent that kept our family together, without her I’m sure that we would have drifted apart. She was the one person in my life that gave me unconditional love and I worship the ground she walked on. I know that she’d want be by her side in her last remaining hours so that was the most important reason I wanted to go home, but It wasn’t the only reason. It was my mother that called me with the news about grandma but she also told me that dad had been injured in a fall and wouldn’t be able to work for at least six months. She impressed upon me how much I was needed at home at this present time. So I asked my commanding officer for a 6 month leave of absence. He granted the leave immediately and even arranged for a hop home on an Air Force 707.
Dec 17, 1953...My flight landed at Hill AFB in Utah just before midnight on the 17th. My home was in SLC, Utah which is about 35 miles from Hill. Normally there is no transportation at this late hour but as luck would have it I met a master sergeant that said he’d take me to Salt Lake and drop me off at my destination. I decided that my destination would be the LDS Hospital where my grandmother was.
Dec 18, 1953...When my grandmother woke up in the morning I was sitting beside her holding her hand.