CHAPTER 7: BOOT CAMP – SOCIALIZING
The first time we were allowed to go to the club was after the third week. On Friday and Saturday nights everyone went to the “Green and Gold” club to let loose. We got to wear our civilian clothes for the first time in a while which was a bigger deal to the females then the guys. A friend I made Noreen and I dressed up a little. When we got to the club guys pushed each other aside to get a chance to talk to us. Everyone talked about what branch of the military they were in and what trade they had chosen. At the club we ate food brought in for the crowd, danced, drank too much, and many of us stumbled back to our barracks. A cute blonde guy named Jack walked me back to the barracks and a military police followed in his cruiser making sure he stayed outside of the barracks. The M.P. were out in force on these nights because it was their busiest time dealing with drunks, brawls, and fraternization; all the things we recruits weren’t supposed to do. But in our defense we had to let off steam; we had no freedom and were held on a tight leash every minute of the day! To top it off another cause of the excessive behavior we also blamed on the fact that cigarettes, beer, and liquor were cheaper on base then at civilian bars. Before crawling in bed I washed up and saw drunk-eyed Noreen sitting under a bathroom sink eating a huge bag of Smarties she had stashed in her foot locker. I asked Noreen if I could join her and as we ate the bag until it was finished I warned her that she better not get caught with food in her locker.
On Sundays all the recruits were forced to go to either Catholic or Protestant Church. I picked Protestant because it was the closet to United and I wasn’t very religious anyways. I had to wonder about those who were different religions and how they felt about the whole thing. The Padres (Priests) lectured us about the sins of gays, sex before marriage, drugs, and alcohol. They said that if we had any personal problems that anything divulged would be in the strictest confidence but it was hard to trust them because they wore a uniform with a small priest collar not a robe. After the service there was a mandatory tea social where we talked, sang songs, and did skits, it was lame.
On the weekend during the day you’d see many of the recruits outside cleaning their rifle, shining their boots, and studying for a test in the last month of summer and upcoming fall. It was a way to socialize and help each other out in our weak areas, no one wanted to fail. The buddy system was strong in boot camp maybe because of all the pressure put on us?
Finally we were allowed to leave the base on the weekend as long as we submitted a leave pass and were back Sunday night. The majority of recruits went to Halifax or Digby but I was worried about not getting back if for some reason I missed the bus. I didn’t want that stress. Besides Jack and I had become pretty close and he wanted to go for the weekend and stay in the same hotel room together. I wasn’t ready for a Cornwallis romance and tried to discourage him by not going. I didn’t realize that the barracks would be so deserted. It was lonely but Jack had stayed behind with me and we went to a movie and a dance over the weekend. Since most of the recruits were off base the club was dead quiet. After that the barracks were deserted come the weekends unless we got punished, but I still never left the base.
On Monday the shit hit the fan for the guys as well as the gals. It turned out that two drunk guys followed the railroad tracks off the base and went AWOL Saturday night, a couple of males we caught smoking dope behind the club, and a boy and girl were caught with their pants down sort of say. The guys that went AWOL were caught a few hours after bedtime roll-call and thrown in the military jail overnight to sober up. The next day they received a fine, extra station jobs, and were confined to barracks for two weeks. Instead of being RTU the instructors thought making them stay was torture for them. The recruits caught smoking dope was another matter. Drugs were even more of a serious offence in a military environment. They were RTU as a warning to us all that it wasn’t tolerated under any circumstance. The male and female caught fraternizing were given extra duties and confined to barracks. And the whole platoon males and females had our leave privileges taken away in week four because of our un-serviceman like behavior.