On March 12, 1975, I hit the road and Ghetto Girl Travels was born. To be sure, my first plane ride, to Air Force basic training, in San Antonio, Texas, wasn’t my first travel adventure. I had done solo bus trips, on Greyhound, to Wisconsin (at age 14), Chicago (at 15), then to Las Vegas (at 17), to see the Osmond Brothers at the Tropicana. More on that later …
I absolutely LOVED basic training! I was one of the youngest, in my flight, having had my mother sign me up at age seventeen. Once at basic training, there were fifty of us, staged together, twenty five in each of the two sleeping bays.
“It is now 0:500! All airmen will be up! All airmen will be dressed! Good morning, ladies!”
When you first arrived, you are up, dressed, outside, and walking to breakfast, in under ten minutes. Later on, during the six weeks of basic training, you leave for breakfast later, as the rainbows (flights not yet issued their military uniforms) and younger flights, have the early breakfast run.
In the evenings, our TI’s (Training Instructors) handed out the mail. They would call your name and you would rise, from the floor, and collect your letter(s). For me, it was quite the up and down affair. I had over one hundred Osmond Brothers pen pals, by the time I arrived at Lackland. Most of them used address labels (addy labels) that we all ordered from the same company in Kansas. Most addy labels contained at least one photo, of your favorite Osmond, and then some sort of statement. If you had photos with one of the Osmond Brothers, you always used those on your labels.
I had photos with them all, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, and Donny. During basic training, I kept the photos, in the security drawer, in my locker. We were told that area was off limits, during inspection. So, when told to open my drawer, during our first inspection, I was both shocked and confused.
My TI pulled out my photos, held up each one, and asked me who the person was. Then, I was questioned on why, of all things, I would keep photos of myself and the Osmonds, in my military security drawer? After that, my TI always called me Donny or Osmond.
It’s been forty-five years, since I left Detroit for basic training. I remember just wanting out, wanting a way to pay for college (someday) and wanting to travel (ASAP). The military gave me everything I ever wanted. From my first TDY (temporary duty) to Okinawa, Japan, to the GI Bill used for my undergrad degree and part of my first graduate degree.
Today, on my forty-fifth anniversary, I’m seated, in a restaurant, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I’m a Peace Corps TEFL Volunteer. I have a BA, MA, and MILS. I’m a retired University Archivist/Academic Librarian and I have traveled to more that forty five countries.
Here’s to the rest of the adventure. –GGT