BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL#29 “Orders: Torrejon Air Base, Spain”
My series of short works will not always be in chronological order. With this one I will share my experience of leaving Banner Mountain.
I was nineteen on that October Saturday in 1953 when I married my sweetheart. He was also nineteen and in the U.S. Air Force. I went with him to live in Kansas where he was stationed at Smoky Hill Air Force Base, which later was named Schilling Air Force Base. In 1956, my husband got out of the Air Force and enrolled in college. In 1958, he reenlisted in the Air Force and in less than a year, he received orders to go to Torrejon Air Base, Spain. By this time, we had a four-year-old son and an eighteen-month-old daughter.
Our parents had been tearful when they said goodbye to us, especially when they hugged their grandchildren. Later, I was told that a few days after we’d left, my dad had erased our baby’s footprints in the sand because when he looked at them, her absence was too painful. How sad that life must be like that. Life happens one day at a time. One. Day. At. A. Time. “Lord, be with us. We are so far from all our relatives.” And I am so very far from my Banner Mountain . . .
We rented a house in Mirasierra, a suburb of Madrid. In my language, Mirasierra means “Look at the mountains.”
And so, the beauty of Spain’s countryside was comforting. We were a family happy to be together, though lonely for our own country and home folks.
A Family Bivouac
We went with him to Spain—the kids and I.
The Air Force sent him there to stay three years.
With aching heart, I hugged my folks good-bye
and climbed aboard a jet, eyes filled with tears.
As engines roared into the sky,
the landscape fell away.
I held our baby snugly on my lap,
and thought ‘my folks have never left their town.’
I’d watched them point to Spain upon the map,
saw Dad brush tears and hide a fearful frown.
Tending cows to supplement carpenter’s pay,
he and Mama had made a home for seven children.
Where is my home? I wondered briefly. Then,
my husband squeezed my hand, and I was quite
assured my home will be where he is when
our plane descended from its five-hour flight.
The children romped across a gray-tiled floor,
then fell asleep in beds that were not ours.
The house to which we moved our home was plain,
but peaceful like the turquoise skies of Spain.
© Freeda Baker Nichols