CH 12: C.F.B. TRENTON – SIGNING IN JAN 1981 – NOV 1982 (with photos)
The inter-base bus unloaded me and others in front of the military airport terminal while others waited to embark. I stood on the icy curb with my kit bag and small suitcase in hand. When I asked the bus driver he pointed to some stairs that disappeared and said that lead to the main gates of C.F.B. Trenton. Down the stairs my luggage bumped and I walked through the tunnel that went under a four-lane road (Hwy 2) above it. Going up the stairs I took one at a time until finally at the top I was only a few feet from the military police shack. The burly M.P. behind the desk gave me a temporary base I.D. and told me to come back in a week and the permanent one would be ready.
When I got to the newer building I followed the signs to reception. A woman gave me a welcome package that had a map of the base, a temporary mess hall pass until a permit one with a photo would be made and a blue card that listed all the sections on base that I had to sign into wearing the number one uniform that of course I was wearing because of travelling on duty on the military bus. I was given the rest of the day and the next to sign in then I had to report back to supply after the weekend on Monday morning. That didn’t give me much time to get to all the places on foot and it was a huge spread out base from what the map showed. She told me I’d be smart to sign into accommodations across the street first so I’d have somewhere to leave my suitcases and more importantly somewhere to sleep that night. I groaned when I saw an old white “H” hut building that looked like it was ready to fall apart.
My room was on the second floor near the back of the barracks. I had just dumped my things on the bed when a female corporal who was on duty knocked on my door and took me down the hall to sign for sheets, pillows, and a blanket. She quickly showed me where the lounge, one and only phone, bathrooms, and laundry room was and told me I’d better hurry to the mess hall for lunch before it closed. I was happy to see that the mess hall was just across the street from my barracks, one block away. A menu was posted on the inside door and a corporal was sitting by the door taking meal tickets, money, or checking meal passes. As I moved along the food line I noticed everyone was staring at me and wondered why until I realized that it was probably because of my shiny boots and razor-sharp ironed uniform. It was obvious I was right out of training. When I glanced at others they had work dress on and their boots were very dull. Before I left the mess hall the corporal took me into the little office and took my photo and told me that it would be ready in a day or two and to just ask when I come in because it would be waiting at the door for me.
I spent the afternoon signing into many departments like the gym, transport building, hospital, dental office, padre’s office, base clothing stores, the junior ranks club, administration, finance, and many more. At the finance office they told me that the cost of rent for my room and food at the mess hall would automatically come out of my pay. Then all I had to do was set up a bank account and they would put the rest in it as an automatic deposit. At the administration office they confirmed my contact in case of emergency information and asked me to make out a will for which they gave me an easy to follow form. The military made me feel safe and at home being a very young single girl from a rough background. They took care of us. It was a home away from home.
By the time I got back to my barracks I was exhausted, sore, and cold. I just hung up my uniform, crawled into my pajamas, and just threw the sheets over the mattress and lay on top of them. I couldn’t use the wool blanket because it way to itchy so I wore a pullover. In the morning I rushed over to breakfast and then was finished signing in by noon. After lunch I went back to the barracks and finally had time to actually look around the room. There were two wood lockers with a few drawers, one for my uniform and the other for my civilian clothes. There was a table in-between the lockers with a chair and a mirror. The mattress was yellowed with age as was the floor. When my mother called I told her how empty and dreary the room felt and she insisted on bringing me a few things from home on Saturday. I must admit I did appreciate her efforts although I didn’t like that her new boyfriend Eldon had come along. Maybe she needed him to help carry things? She bought me a new ironing board and iron so I didn’t have to fight for the only one in my wing. Also the rest of my clothes, some posters, CD’s and CD player, lilac bedding, curtains, a large braided rug, and bean bag chair, which all made my room feel more homey. Many of the girls had memo boards on their doors for someone to write a phone message but I didn’t bother because I’d rather make the call when I felt I was in the mood to handle my mom.