Welcome G.I. Joe
While sipping my 25-cent cup of coffee at a Waxahachie Whataburger one morning last week, I noticed a lively little man enter and stand immediately behind me. I remembered seeing him getting out of his candy-apple red Chevy pickup to go inside the same establishment a day or two prior...and had nodded greeting to him (and he to me) on that occasion, while getting into my Confederate-gray Chevy pickup, for me to leave.
Several things had occurred to me in noticing this little gentleman at both encounters. One, he was about 5 foot 6 inches, I’d say, reminding me of my late father (we kids had all called him daddy) and this man’s easy grin, in spite of an obvious lack of, shall we say, dental porcelains. He apparently had not a tooth but was not discouraged from that most-likeable grin.
Also, he wore a baseball-type cap having that scrambled-egg look so common to top-notch covers bearing a military connotation of one kind or another. On our first meeting, my intent was mostly directed toward eye contact, rather than checking out the specific nature of his headgear, as a good greeting is always preceded by good eye contact.
Anyway, on this second encounter, his scrambled egg cap clearly read Purple Heart...and I turned to thank him for his military service, after which a good conversation ensued, for the gentleman was talkative...as am I, on rare occasion.
Turns out the Purple Hearts were earned in the Pacific Theater, World War II vintage. The islands, as I recall, were Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Perhaps there were at least three wounds, one very serious, entering into his one side and coming out the other. He himself had been a medic.
The enemy was just as deadly to a gurney carrier as to a soldier carrying a rifle...and they probably made better targets.
The serious wound landed him in the hospital, of course, where his diminutive size became even more diminutive, weight-wise. He lost down to either 65 or 67 pounds. Can you imagine? Upon asking his current weight, he said it ranged between 100 and 105. I tole you he was a little man...
Since I missed his name (we do that sometime, don’t we?), we’ll just call him G.I. Joe, until his true identity is discovered.
Joe had just moved to Waxahachie from Weatherford, and he asked if we (at our table) were familiar with that W-town. Of course we all were, familiar that is, remembering the big First Mondays (or was it First Fridays?) they had had out there in the past.
He smilingly acknowledged the excitement associated with those big sale days in the Parker County county seat.
We joked with Joe about trading W-town Weatherford for W-town Waxahachie. He gave us that friendly grin. I’m glad he chose Waxahachie over Waco, Wichita Falls, Weslaco, Wylie, Watauga, or Wolfe City (I could go on; a current list of Texas towns beginning with the letter W number (guess) 153.
Heroes don’t come from cookie-cutters, do they? Stop and chat and thank G.I. Joe for his service to America when you spot him around town or elsewhere in the county.
Welcome him to Waxahachie and Ellis County. I bet he’ll tell you his real name...and you’ll, unlike me, get and remember it.
May Yahweh bless our brave Vets. Happy Thanksgiving!