By Vera Looker
In late May 1943, World War II was 18 months old. The US Pacific Fleet under General Nimitz was fighting a desperate island-to-island battle in the South Pacific. Guadalcanal, Midway, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Gilbert, the Aleutians – names of islands and atolls unfamiliar to many Americans or vaguely remembered from a long ago geography lesson. May 31, 1943, the United States captured Attu and ended the Japanese occupation of the Aleutian Islands and I, Vera Tomlinson, uneventfully graduated from Lima South High School.
Throughout my senior year my college plans had been a bone of contention with my parents. It wasn’t that they didn’t want me to go to college they just wanted it be the school of their choice. When I was 8 and had a story published in a children’s magazine, I was certain that I was destined to be a great writer. As I grew older I became convinced that to accomplish this I had to attend a good journalism school and had my heart set on one in Indiana. And this is where the conflict arose.
During this battle of will I began to feel sorry for myself as adolescents tend to do and worked on convincing myself that my parents didn’t really think a higher education was necessary for me since I was a girl. I doubt that this was true, but rather a figment of my adolescent fantasy that my parents didn’t understand me and were cruelly uncaring that they were thwarting my obvious calling to become a famous writer.
My mother felt that the only acceptable career for a girl was to become a nurse or a secretary. Strangely enough she ruled out school teaching as she said most teachers became old maids and I guess that was a fate she didn’t wish for me. My mother repeatedly told me that the local hospital had a fine nursing program and the town boasted a very good secretarial school so she saw no need for me to traipse off to another state where I couldn’t come home every weekend. Of course, coming home every weekend was not high on my agenda. They did concede that if I absolutely insisted on attending college there was a small university some 35 miles away. The fact that this was basically an engineering school didn’t seem to be of concern to my mother. In her mind college was college, regardless of your career goals.
So the decision was made that my college career would be put on hold for a year, at least until I was 18, as they felt I wasn’t mature enough to venture very far from home. They seemed to feel that a few more months in Lima would convince me of the wisdom of attending a school closer to home. In retrospect I can’t help but wonder if my high school years had perhaps given them good reason to believe that I wasn’t quite ready to leave the nest.
Lima, Ohio, was a manufacturing town located in the middle of farm country. In a short time after we entered the war all the local factories had geared up for defense production. I had no difficulty landing a job in the offices of Westinghouse as the office gopher. Being at the bottom of the pecking order I had the privilege of performing every undesirable task in the office. As the newest – and youngest employee - I was assigned dittoing documents. Are you familiar with ditto machines? It’s an atrocious - and fortunately now obsolete - contraption for duplicating documents. At one end of the machine is a roll of a gummy material that was rolled across the glass surface of the machine, dampened with a sponge, a document, typed with a special ditto typewriter ribbon was then placed on the damp surface, and then a roller was pulled over it. This left the imprint of the document on the gummy surface, then a piece of plain paper was fed onto the imprint, a roller pulled over it and the result was a purple printed document. The process was then repeated and with luck you could produce four or five legible copies and a few more barely legible ones. During the workday I somehow managed to get the purple ditto ink everywhere imaginable on my body and came home looking like a purple spotted intruder from outer space.
I had an older brother, Alfred. He had met my sister-in-law Jeanne when they were both in high school. I must have been 12 or 13 when I first met her and she was about 16. I liked her immediately. I thought she was so sophisticated and beautiful with her thick auburn hair, fair complexion, and easy manner. As a gawky adolescent I was completely enthralled. She and my brother met on the debate team when the coach paired them as a team. They were quite good and won nearly every competition they entered. My admiration increased as I realized she was intelligent as well as beautiful.
They graduated from high school and went off to the same college, a small school nearby, and, during their freshman year, Jeanne became pregnant. The way my parents, especially my mother, carried on you would think some unspeakable tragedy had descended on the family or at the very least, the world was coming to an end. A gloom akin to a death in the family settled over the house. My mother wept and wailed endlessly for days blaming this all on Jeanne, of course. In my mother’s eyes, my brother was totally blameless. Apparently she seemed to think that he had just lain there helpless while this seductress attacked him. There was, of course, a speedy Kentucky elopement and many white lies were told to relatives and friends about just when this elopement had occurred. My mother, however, never totally forgave Jeanne for despoiling her innocent son, despite the fact that the two had a long and exceedingly happy marriage.
Jeanne and I quickly became close friends – which annoyed my mother. Quite frankly, most of what I did at that time annoyed my mother. She repeatedly stated that I was a difficult child, which translated meant that I did not fit the mold of what she perceived a perfect daughter to be.
By the summer of 1943, my brother Alfred had graduated from college and held a responsible position in a defense factory. Since he was married, had a child, and held an essential job in a defense plant, he was exempt from the draft. However, he had always wanted to be a pilot so he enlisted in the Air Force. My parents were stunned by his decision. I should say my mother was stunned I always felt that my father with his fascination with airplanes was a bit envious. Despite their protests and repeated exclamations of “how could you,” he did enlist, went off to basic training, and Jeanne and I spent more and more time together. She became more of a sister to me than my biological sister, with whom I had little in common then or now.
I don’t know just when the idea of us becoming camp followers first took form. My brother had written Jeanne that many of the wives had come to stay near the base where their husbands were training and wished that she could come. However, actual visiting time was quite limited since they could only have visitors at the base for a few hours on Wednesday evening and could leave the base on Saturday evening, again for just a few hours. It would be for only nine weeks and then he would move on to another phase of his training. So, although he would like for her and their daughter Kathy to be close by it would be pretty lonely for them.
It didn’t take us long to come up with the idea that not only should Jeanne and Kathy go to Texas but I should go with them. I was totally bored with my gopher job and still annoyed that I couldn’t start college. When I presented the idea to my parents I was prepared for a lengthy argument and had mentally prepared a list of reasons as to why this was a practical thing to do. To my amazement they readily agreed to the scheme and I was left speechless with all my well-rehearsed arguments unused. I was actually a bit disappointed that I didn’t get the opportunity to ardently plead my case. They probably were so tired of my moping around over the college issue and complaining about my miserable job that they were glad to see me out of the house for a few months.
So thus it was that on a hot, humid, September morning my sister-in-law Jeanne, my four-year-old niece Kathy, and I embarked for our big adventure in Texas. Battles raging in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea were duly noted but certainly not dwelt on as we were wholly absorbed with our big adventure – we were on our way to be camp followers. Naturally we traveled by train - everyone did during those war years. The trains were crowded, not just with civilians but with many servicemen. Passengers were sitting on suitcases in the aisles and standing in vestibules talking, laughing, and smoking – yes, you could smoke on trains then. There was a camaraderie that seemed strangely at odds with the grimness of the time.
I reveled at being in the midst of all those handsome young servicemen. My hometown had been virtually stripped of eligible males and dates were quite few and far between. Letter writing went on at a feverish pitch but that was a poor substitute for an actual date. We changed trains in Chicago and I found myself the seatmate of an attractive young soldier. Naturally we started talking. I’m afraid the conversation soon gave way to some serious necking. It was all very nice, but I did, however, retain enough common sense to turn down his offer to disembark in St. Louis, spend the night with him, and continue my journey the next day. Well, I’ll have to admit it wasn’t all my good common sense. Jeanne was sitting across the aisle glaring at me disapprovingly.
We traveled from Lima to Chicago, from there to St. Louis, and then to Wichita Falls, and finally to Stamford, Texas.
St St. Louis was miserably hot, it was approaching late afternoon, and the excitement of the adventure was wilting quickly amidst the stifling heat. The train to Wichita Falls was late and we were in a panic that we would miss our connection to Stamford. On arriving in Wichita Falls we ran madly toward the train. Of course, it was leaving from the very furthest point from the station. When we finally arrived, panting and sweating, we stopped in disbelief. Sitting there was an engine and two cars with a conductor idly leaning against the side of the passenger car. “Don’t run little ladies,” he called out, “we’s waiting for the guys from Amarillo to get here and won’t leave till then.” Apparently Stamford was a railway center and crews were dispatched from there to locations all over Texas. The Amarillo crew returned to Stamford every evening to be dispatched again the next morning. With the announcement that we had “lotsa” time, we caught our breath and examined our transportation. Our first impression was total shock and then we started to laugh because on the track before us was what must have been the prototype for the Toonerville Trolley. The train consisted of an aging engine, an equally ancient passenger car, and what I assume passed for a baggage car.
Eventually the Amarillo crew arrived and we departed – several hours behind schedule – for Stamford. Aside from the railway crew the only other passengers were our group and a very quiet older lady – either Hispanic, Indian, or a bit of both – who sat in a far corner of the car clutching a wicker basket on her lap. The conductor nodded to her as she boarded and I somehow got the impression that she was a regular passenger but communication did not go beyond that nod.
The journey took about an hour but due to all the delays it was nearing midnight when we finally disembarked on a small platform perched beside a dark and aging depot. There were few lights illuminating the area and we appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. Jeanne, with a confidence she didn’t feel, asked the conductor where we could get a taxi to take us into town. He laughed “Well, there ain’t no taxis and this is purty much all the town there is.” I don’t know what the town population was in 1943 but I checked on the current population and it is 3,500 souls. We stood miserably on the platform feeling like the forlorn souls that we must have appeared to be. Our friendly conductor then said, “You folks must be with one of those fellers from the base.” We allowed as how that was, indeed, the case. He then stated the obvious “You lookin’ fer a place to stay?” We agreed with this astute observation. “Well, just across the track there’s the New Briton Inn, they can most likely put you up,” he said pointing toward the direction that had swallowed up the crew. We thanked him, picked up our bags and noting with a bit of apprehension the dozens of tracks that snaked and turned ahead of us, started to gingerly and wearily pick our way across the tracks toward the feeble light that marked the New Briton Inn. Obviously Stamford was a major rail center for the Texas panhandle. The rail yards were a beehive of activity – activity that did not extend to the town.
The New Briton Inn sat adjacent to the last set of tracks. It was a long low building of tan stucco with a long wooden porch covering about half the front of the building. We found the front steps and stepped into a dim, shabby lobby. Emerging from the back of the house was a large, stern looking woman, with her hair in curlers, and wearing a ratty chenille bathrobe clutched to her ample bosom. This was Mrs. Briton the owner and proprietor of the New Briton Inn. “You little ladies lookin’ for a room,” she boomed. During my months in Texas I don’t know which form of greeting I disliked the most - little lady, or ma’am – both salutations thoroughly annoyed me and were most certainly overworked by the natives. After a brief conversation confirming our need for a room for the night, we were escorted to a room on the second floor. The room was clean and the double bed just waiting for our weary bones. Kathy had to share the bed with us but we were all so tired that nobody cared.
The next morning we asked Mrs. Briton if she had any suggestions of where we might look for an apartment. “Taint much available,” she opined. “We’se a small town and all you military folks have purty much taken over the place.” She then volunteered that she did have a very small apartment that we might be interested in renting, if we were interested. Of course, we were interested and she showed us what she deemed to be an apartment. It appeared to have originally been two bedrooms on the ground floor and a door had been installed to connect the two. The kitchen consisted of a washbasin that served as the sink, a hotplate, small icebox, and a small table. Cabinet space was quite limited. The bedroom boasted a double bed and a dresser. We immediately said we’d take it except we needed a bed for Kathy. She said she would have a small one moved in that afternoon. So we agreed to rent it for $25.00 a month.
That night we happily retired, elated that we had found a home. We had been asleep several hours when Kathy’s crying woke us. Jeanne turned on the light and we were horrified to see bedbugs crawling all over her. Her face and arms were already covered with large red welts. We chased the bugs off and moved her into our bed and then with Jeanne at one end of the offending cot and me at the other we marched through the lobby, out the back door, and flung it into the backyard. The next morning, Mrs. Briton, who we feel knew full well the condition of the bed, said nothing. She had the gall to say that if the bed hadn’t been comfortable she could get something else. We demurred and Kathy slept with us until Alfred was able to obtain an army cot and a sleeping bag from the base.
Jeanne had beautiful hair, it was thick and long and a marvelous auburn color. Shortly after we arrived we were sitting on the edge of the porch one evening. The evening was quite warm and Jeanne had just washed her hair and we were sitting outside till it dried. A railroad crew, as they did most evenings, came stomping across the tracks and into the hotel. As one of the men passed us he asked if we were new. We said yes we had just arrived a few days ago. He gave Jeanne a leer and a wink and said, “Well, sweetheart, I’ll see you later,” and then turned and followed the others into the house. We sat in stunned silence till Jeanne said, “Oh, my god, I think we’re living in a brothel.” This assessment was confirmed several days later by my brother who told us not only was it a cat house, as he termed it, the place had actually been posted as being off-limits to the cadets. At least it explained the several rather lethargic girls we glimpsed each day who just seemed to be drifting around aimlessly.
It didn’t take long for the crews to realize that we weren’t part of the staff and we didn’t receive any further suggestive greetings after that first night. Since the rent was cheap and we were woefully short of funds we decided to stay.
Our financial situation was not good and to say the least our cash reserves were in dire straits. For nearly a year Alfred’s share of Jeanne’s’ allotment check was being deducted from his monthly pay but she had yet to receive her first allotment check. It was imperative that we find employment of some type. The Stamford job situation was bleak but we were willing to take anything we could get. Thus it was that we ended up working at a laundry near the New Briton Inn. We were responsible for everything ironed on the huge mangle that consisted primarily of bed sheets and tablecloths. One of us would feed the sheet in from one side, the other would guide it through and then the two of us would dance as between us we folded it. We thought it was great fun. We were the only white employees in the laundry and the old timers – mostly Hispanic women who looked tired and old before their time, many wearing carpet slippers with holes cut in them to ease their aching bunions, looked on us as being totally daft. Our endeavors netted us each about $10.00 a week.
After a few weeks Jeanne was promoted to the front office where she checked in the laundry that was dropped off and collected for the laundry being picked up. This resulted in a slight increase in her salary. We decided that I should stay home and look after Kathy and do the housekeeping, thus saving the five dollar weekly baby sitting fee we paid Mrs. Briton. We were having our doubts about how much attention she actually paid to Kathy, especially the day Kathy came running across the tracks to meet us, announcing that she had prepared dinner for us. Indeed she had by cutting all our oranges in half and spreading all the bread with mayonnaise. The thought of a not-quite-five year old wielding a sharp knife was quite upsetting. Also Mrs. Briton had a son, Charles, who obviously had mental problems and skulked around the house all day with Mrs. Briton constantly shouting (she never talked softly) “Charles! Where are you, Charles?” As far as we knew, Charles had never paid any attention to Kathy but he still made us uneasy. So I assumed the role of homemaker.
Our time with Alfred was quite limited. On Wednesday afternoon we could visit him at the base from 6 to 9 and he could come into town on Saturday from 6 to 11. Since we did not have a car we had to rely on the shuttle bus that ran between Stamford and the Air Field. The term “bus” is a misnomer – it more closely resembled a cattle car. It was a large truck with benches installed in place of regular seats. The windows were near the ceiling so you couldn’t see outside. Claustrophobia could quickly overwhelm you, but thankfully it was a fairly short, albeit rough and bumpy, ride to the airfield. We would usually arrive just as the cadets were marching in from the flight line. I always was overcome with emotion and a sudden wave of patriotism as the cadets came marching by, looking ever so official in their flight regalia, counting in cadence or lustily singing some off-color song with thankfully unintelligible lyrics. After they broke ranks we would greet Alfred and head for the mess hall.
Wednesday was the highlight of our week as the mess hall served the visitors a bountiful buffet. Not only did we thoroughly stuff ourselves at the table but now and then would nick some condiments. We always brought huge handbags so we could carry off the leftovers as doggy bags were not provided. One evening Jeanne even secreted a nearly full bottle of ketchup in her purse. We discovered near the end of our stay that we were supposed to have been paying for these dinners all along. Alfred claimed he was totally unaware of this and since no one had ever challenged us we were blissfully ignorant. When we did discover this oversight, we rationalize that our finances were in far worst shape than the government’s and in a large part it was their fault anyway due to the allotment fiasco. Thus we felt vindicated in not reimbursing them.
Halloween was approaching and Jeanne and I decided to throw a Halloween party for the guys. By this time Alfred was bringing his friend Bill Truitt along on Saturday night. His purpose was two-fold, to provide me with some companionship, of course, but also to provide an accomplice on my Saturday evening walks to the park with Kathy in an attempt to entertain her for at least an hour. We decided we would entertain them with a treasure hunt. For weeks before Halloween we plotted a route all over town, which we walked almost every evenings, making adjustments as to just where we would leave the clues. We left notes at each location giving directions to the next clue. Our clues were in the form of very bad poetry but we had a hilarious time composing them. When the guys arrived we provided Halloween masks and noise-makers for everyone. The men of course were in uniform a reminder that we were in fact at war. We started out on our venture and they had found several clues and we were merrily wending our way toward the next clue when the MP’s pulled up beside us. They inquired what we were up to and when we told them we were on a treasure hunt. We were all wearing Halloween masks and they looked at us a bit skeptically. They checked the guys ID’s and their passes and not being able to find anything amiss waved us on with a warning to keep out of trouble.
The trail, of course, ended up back at the house with their treasure being a bag of Halloween candy. We polished off the evening with pumpkin pie and cider and all too soon it was time for them to catch the bus back to the base.
Soon after the first of November we moved on to the next stage of Alfred’s training, Majors Field Army Air Force base in Greenville, Texas. Greenville was a bit larger than Stamford. I don’t know what the population was at that time but currently it’s 24,000. Our method of finding an apartment was to walk the streets till we saw a “For Rent” sign and then inquire about the rental. In Greenville, as in many other small towns in Texas that had suddenly been inundated by military families, enterprising homeowners had converted every possible available space into so-called apartments. The lack of available building material made some of these conversions very difficult as was the case with the apartment we finally rented. The home was owned by an elderly couple who had attempted to convert the second story of their home into an apartment. The second floor consisted of one large room with four dormers – one facing the street, one at the back of the house and two at each end. The stove was located in one dormer, the sink in another, and the refrigerator in the third. Preparing a meal was a real exercise as one sprinted from one dormer to the next. The owners had been unable to obtain the necessary plumbing supplies to plumb the sink. So consequently there was no drain, just a bucket under the drain that we had to run downstairs and empty with great regularity. Our bedroom was in an end dormer and was separated from the rest of the room with drapes hung on a heavy wire.
Our apartment was not secure. An open stairway led from a side entrance to the second floor. Our landlord could lock the door to their first floor living quarters. We shared a bath at the bottom of the stairs. We could lock the outside door but our landlord had uninhibited access to the second floor and we had numerous clues that they were in our apartment when we were away.
I’m rather unclear about the job-hunting picture at this time. I know it was complicated by the fact that we had no one to look after Kathy. I found a temporary job in a hardware store helping with their inventory. The only thing I can recall about the job is that I counted zillions of nuts and bolts. Jeanne, after a frustrating search, landed a job at a local jewelry store and I again assumed the role of housekeeper.
For some reason our finances seemed tighter after we moved to Greenville. Although I can’t remember I assume that we had to pay more rent. The McCoys, who owned the jewelry store, were very kind to us. They had no children and immediately took a great liking to Kathy. Once a week I would gussy her up in her cutest clothes and we would pay a visit to the store. As we were leaving, they would always give Kathy a quarter and as soon as we were out of the store and around the corner I would take it away from her.
A quarter could finance our evening meal.
One morning I was trying to clean the house and Kathy was pestering me to bake Snickerdoodles. We were out of milk and sugar, and although at that time I had the money to buy them, I didn’t have time. So Kathy said she would go to the store a block away and get them and I agreed – perfectly logical, yes, sending a not quite yet five year old off to buy milk and sugar. She was gone for quite some time and I began to get uneasy. I was about to go in search of her when I heard voices at the bottom of the stairs and Kathy soon came up the stairs with the groceries. I immediately asked who she had been talking to and she said it was the man who had brought her home. Apparently, coming out of the grocery store she had tripped and fallen. The bottle of milk had broken and of course ruined the sugar.
A man in the store and saw her fall. After coming out to see if she was hurt, he went back in the store, bought more milk and sugar – remember sugar was rationed at the time – and brought her home. I’m glad I didn’t get down the stairs soon enough to greet them as I’m certain he must have thought the poor child lived with total idiots and I must certainly would have gotten a well-deserved tongue lashing.
Jeanne had become friends with Joannie, another clerk at the jewelry store. Joannie was blonde, bouncy – a real party girl. She had been raised in Greenville and seemed to be related in one way or another to nearly everyone in town. One evening she wanted to come home after work with Jeanne. Jeanne knew we had next to nothing to eat but wasn’t able to discourage Joannie. I think I had about a half pound of hamburger and had requisitioned some beets and cabbage from a neighbor’s garden and concocted a weird meat loaf that actually was quite good. But that and a bit of bread constituted the evening meal. Joannie, in her usual bubbly way was oblivious to the fact that basically we had no food. After consuming the meat loaf – which didn’t take long, she innocently asked what else were we having. At this point I broke into tears. Jeanne tried to explain our plight to Joannie – which boiled down to the fact that we had no other food. Joannie immediately had a solution – she had an uncle who was manager of a large market and she insisted on dragging us off to his store and filling a shopping cart – at her uncle’s expense I’m sure. Grateful as I was, I found that I did not like accepting handouts.
About this time the McCoys asked Jeanne if we would like to spend a weekend at their cabin. It was located on a river that they said was a “little piece” down the road. Jeanne gladly accepted. Alfred and Bill were able to get weekend passes and early on a Saturday morning, loaded down with supplies for the weekend, we departed Greenville by Greyhound bus. The “little piece” turned out to be a two- hour bus ride. We were finally deposited at the end of a dirt road and the driver told us that the river was about a mile up the road. He said the bus would pick us up at five Sunday evening so we needed to be at the end of the road at the appointed time as there wasn’t another bus until morning.
We cheerfully hiked up the road and eventually reached a beautiful, wide river flanked by trees. The cabin put our little apartment to shame – if this was just a weekend cabin we all wondered what the McCoy’s house must look like. The setting was idyllic, the weather was mild, and we had a marvelous time, hiking, just sitting by the river, playing games and, of course, eating. The weekend flew by much too quickly and all to soon we were plodding down the road toward the highway. Alfred kept urging us to walk faster and we were still some distance from the highway when we saw the bus whiz by. Alfred and Bill ran and shouted but to no avail.
The fellows were in uniform and as potential officers and gentlemen they were not allowed to hitchhike. So we started walking in single file along the road with Kathy at the head of the line – she was our designated hitchhiker. She did a great job because just as we were really feeling desperate about not getting back in time, a large truck stopped. The friendly driver was able to get all five of us into his truck and we headed for Greenville. We arrived in time for the men to get back to the base before curfew. The weekend was lovely and a welcome respite from our Spartan existence.
Thanksgiving was soon upon us. Alfred had invited several of his friends who did not have family with them to join us for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks to contributions from all the invitees we were able to set a sumptuous table with all the proper Thanksgiving fare. After dinner Alfred and several other guests settled down to listen to a football game. Jim Trump was not interested and remained at the table with Jeanne and me as we dawdled over our tea. He told us he was experimenting with hypnotism and wanted to hypnotize Jeanne. She agreed. Jim took his pocket watch out and began to swing it back and forth in front of Jeanne and told her to keep her eyes on it. I forgot to mention that Jim lisped. So, he sat swinging the watch in front of her chanting, “You are gwoing, sweepy, sweepy.” It was too much for Jeanne and me, we cracked up laughing. Jim was exasperated and announced that he couldn’t hypnotize her if we wouldn’t be serious, which ended the session.
It was now December and nearing the end of our stay in Greenville. The war in the South Pacific was raging. US troops had landed on the Arawe Peninsula of New Britain in the Solomon Islands and soon after there was a full Allied assault on New Britain. I must confess our thoughts were more on appropriate stocking stuffers than on the war. We had become quite adept at organizing inexpensive parties. Our Christmas consisted of baked goods, home made presents, and a very small tree replete with strings of popcorn and paper chains. We really wanted lights but couldn’t afford them. Several days before Christmas our landlord told us they were going to Fort Worth to spend Christmas with their daughter. It wasn’t long after their departure that we decided we would borrow their tree lights. The door to their living quarters was topped with a transom that had been left partially open. We hoisted Kathy up, she opened the transom all the way, climbed through, dropped to the floor, and unlocked the door to let us in. We carefully relieved the tree of its lights and repositioned them upstairs. Our tree looked lovely on Christmas Day. The next day, we reversed the process, restored the lights to the tree, and no one was the wiser.
The end of the month marked the end of our Greenville stay. Alfred, Jeanne, and Kathy were moving on to Frederick, Texas, and I was returning to Lima for what proved to be a very brief college career – but that’s a story for another time.
It was indeed an adventure. A definite high point in the lives of everyone involved. We have spent many hours over the years reminiscing on what a great adventure we had as camp followers. It does prove one doesn’t need money to have a good time – although, of course, it helps.