Because of basement construction (or destruction), we were not able to use our washing machine this weekend. With five loads of laundry to do, and because my husband Dale reminded me he was "down to one t-shirt", I ventured to the only laundromat in town last evening.
The last time I was in a laundromat was easily 10 years ago during an Annual Training for the Army National Guard. The smell of the laundromat was familiar- dryer sheets and about 10 different pleasant-smelling detergents. I'd have to say I like the smell, and the soft hum of the machines is quite relaxing, but I digress.
This out of the norm laundry experience reminded me of a horrible few times doing laundry during Basic Training. And I do mean a few. Counting the reception station at Fort Jackson, South Carolina for 11 weeks, I did laundry exactly 4 times. Dale doesn't believe me, he says there is no way the Drill Sergeants didn't let us do it more often. But that is the truth. More than once we marched to the PX store and bought new underclothes and t-shirts. I think some on duties like fire guard or CQ did it, but I must have never had those shifts at the right time.
Imagine 20-30 girls washing and drying identical clothes in 4 pairs of washers and dryers in a room the size of a walk-in closet. Yep. That was the experience all right.
As Dale and I talked about it tonight, he reminded me of some of the antics people pulled in the laundry room. Such as:
*Blink for a minute and someone has taken out your balled-up, soaking wet clothing, placed it in a heap nearby, and slid THEIR items into the only free dryer you had been waiting on for 2 hours.
*Sudddenly discover someone (for some unknown reason) put their underwear with your uniforms. Nuff said.
*Somebody in a much smaller or larger size has stupidly taken a top or bottom to your uniform and left there's for you to wonder, "what the heck?!"
Anger and frustration reached a fever pitch if someone was caught committing one of these atrocities. We would cram so much in it would take like an hour and a half to dry. So there I was, standing guard over my clothing in a humid, stuffy and anxiety filled room. Who would get the next dryer? Would someone steal my socks when I went to the latrine?
I say these things in humor, but they really did happen. I know those in combat wore the same uniform for months, and I sure do not mean to downplay their suffering. This is just a little piece of my world.
I guess I was lucky. In both the British and US Army boot camps our laundry got collected each week and sent out to get cleaned. Doubly lucky as I never lost a sock or had miss matched uniforms returned. Yes I consider myself truly fortunate after reading of your experiences lass
Laundry room?. . .all we had during boot camp was a bucket, scrub brush and a bar of soap.
Our laundry room was a wash rack, to dry, we had a clothes line.
I was lucky, growing up, my dear grandmother Maria Marcial Gonzalez taught young Ricardo.
How to iron one's clothes, so I did a lot of ironing in boot camp.
In Vietnam, we wore the same clothes for weeks.
You got use to smell, but we were not welcomed at some bases back in the rear.
I was infantry (0311) or what you Army folks call 11Bravo.
As a infantry Sergeant or as a infantry Staff Sergeant it became 0369.
During my ten years in, I was also a Primary Marksmanship Instructor .
Besides doing duty in two Recon Battalions 1st Recon and 3rd Recon.
It was with 3rd Recon that I first went to Vietnam.
On landing in Okinawa after a voyage from K-Bay Hawaii home to the 1st Marine Brigade.
Many of the Marine infantry companies in the Brigade found themselves short on Non-Commission-Officers (NCOs).
So I was transferred to India Company 3rd Battalion 4th Marines.
I got to know the men in my squad all of three days.
My second time in Vietnam, was when we were not welcomed.
Not that I blame those folks.
But they should let it slide as we were out trying to protect them.
They also thought we were crazy, because we would not part with our weapons.
Besides my M-16, I carried a .45 caliber pistol.
Didn't trust that M-16, sure did love that M-14 7.62mm.
It was the rifle I taught recruits to shoot.
Line them (sight alignment /sight picture) up and squeeze that trigger.
We taught a 6 o'clock hold, some now teach a center-of-mass hold.
And a flat tire hold, placing the front sight blade a little into the bottom of the bulls-eye.
So the bulls-eye looks like a 'flat tire', as one Marine sniper told me once in an E-Mail.
Got off about the laundry, sorry...etc
I hope you knew I was not making fun.
After we hung our clothes, the Drill Instructors would post a man or two.
As guards so no one would steal our few rags.
In boot camp you never made use of words such as; 'you' or 'i/I'.
Nor did you never dare address the Drill Instructor/Drill Instructors as DI/DIs.
One always spoke in the third person, 'This recruit' and the first word out of your mouth was 'Sir'/Madam' and the last word was 'Sir/Madam'.
What folks in the U.S Army call a 'latrine' naval folks Navy and Marines call a 'head'.
A little naval history, back in time of sailing ships, with their sails and masts.
Around that sailing ship were these thing name 'heads' that a place to tie down the mast/sails with ropes.
At the head or the bow of the sailing ship were two rectangle shaped boxes that went through the bow and would empty into the open sea, next to two 'heads' at the bow.
On either side of the 'bow heads, so they were named the 'bow heads'.
Or just head/heads...
The more favorable wind was a wind blowing towards the bow so that why the 'heads' were up there.
To get rid of the smell and the sea might aid in keeping it clean.
I was reading in a Sgt. Grit newsletter about one day in boot camp.
This Drill Instructor asked a recruit; 'what are these 'brown stains' in some of his shorts?
The recruit reply; 'Sir, chit, Sir', it went on to say the Drill Instructor about died laughing.
At that time, male Marines were issued 'white' shorts with 'ties' on the side and white t-shirts.
We would use the ties to hang our clothes on these clothes lines.