Over the holidays, let's think of our servicemen and women who are serving our country all over the world. It will truly be hard on them this holiday season, especially the children who will be missing mothers and fathers. Let's keep them in our prayers.
Which reminds me of one Christmas over 40 years ago in 1973. I was in the Navy and home on leave going to see my boys, Tommy and Bobby, who were in a foster home due in part because my wife had left us and I had no way to provide for them.
I was stationed at a Naval base in Great Lakes, Illinois. I hadn't enough money to fly home to New York to see them, but I promised to be home for Christmas, so I had to find a way.
I had a buddy who was going as far as Ohio, and he would give me a ride to his house and from there could catch a bus. I bought toys for the boys and off we went on December 23.
It was cold and snowing and everything went well until my friend decided to take a shortcut, and that's when we got into trouble. We slid on the icy road and hit a stalled truck.
We got out of the car unhurt, and my friend Roger went to a local farm to call his family. So I went onto the highway and started to hitchhike. I was in my dress blues and got a ride from a man who said he never picked up strangers, but felt he should pick me up being it was Christmas time. He took me as far as the ramp to Indianapolis.
I started to hitchhike again when a man in a snowplow offered me a ride into town near the bus station. I found the bus station and many servicemen and women and civilians trying to get home for the holidays. There were more people than buses available to handle the flow.
I met a young woman who was also trying to get home to see her young daughter. We struck up a plan when we found out that Greyhound was willing to take couples first and it worked.
I reached New York at 7 a.m. on Christmas Eve. I got an F train back to Queens, where I would be staying with my former in-laws Charlie and Barb.
I went out to Levittown to pick up the boys for Christmas. I rang the bell and my eldest who was four came to the door and yelled to his younger brother Bobby that new daddy was here, which is what they called me to differentiate from their foster parents.
Later that night I opened my sea bag and gave Tommy a truck and Bobby a toy racing car. They both gave me a big hug and a kiss. It really was a good Christmas, which I have never forgotten.
In January, I had to ship out and was deployed to the Middle East which was quiet back than. I hope and pray that the many servicemen and women will get home safely as I did so long ago.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village