After a very successful ball where my wife at the time was admired greatly by the Destroyer School’s commanding officer, Earl dropped off both hatch covers and our mini-station wagon, which now would be labeled a hatchback. He got his Porsche 911 back unharmed.
To be honest, i was relieved.
i got both hatchbacks because both Earl and i had orders to Long Beach, CA, and it was easier to include them in our household goods rather than Earl putting one in his minimal personal goods shipment. Earl was reporting as Weapons Officer to the USS Fox (DLG 33), homeported in San Diego but undergoing a major overhaul in the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. i had orders to relieve the chief engineer aboard the USS Hollister (DD 788), homeported at the Long Beach Naval Station adjacent to the shipyard. We were going to be co-located and our friendship would remain close for the rest of Earl’s life.
The last four weeks of destroyer school was a four-week stay in Norfolk where we would train on ships of the same class as the ones to which we had orders. Consequently, my parents flew to Providence, loaded up my wife, Blythe, the cat BK, and the Old English Sheepdog Snooks in that Corona station wagon and drove to Tennessee. My family then went to Paris, Texas and my in-laws home. Earl and i, after completing the school back in Newport, then drove to Lebanon in his Porsche.
In was in November 1974. We planned to stop in New York City and stay at the home of one of Earl’s friends, but late that night at a gas stopped and called his friend. The friend was out of town so we decided to drive straight through. By then, it was almost midnight and Earl had driven up until then. i took my turn at the wheel. i had barely pulled back on the road before Earl was sound asleep.
i’m no longer sure of the route we took, but i was driving through mountains on what i believe was I-81. It was in Pennsylvania. It was 1:00 am in the morning. Earl was sound asleep. There was nothing on the road except us and semis. It began to rain in the mountains. i found myself unwittingly racing semi after semi. 95 miles an hour in the mountains on curves in the rain. The Porsche was performing better than i. It was hair raising but i didn’t want to wake Earl and scare the hell out of him. It was one hell of a ride for about an hour. My knuckles were white. But i think i took a step up in my driving. As first light came about, we stopped for gas and Earl took over the driving duties and i slept.
i never told him, but it was certainly one of the most thrilling night rides of my life.
Thank you, Porsche. And thank you, Earl.