In 1973, I transferred from Jacksonville to Chicago. At about the same time, three other guys transferred to San Juan—Warner (The Hummer) Armbruster, Bill Fagan, and Ron (can’t remember his last name). Picture the passage of time characterized by the movie effect of calendar pages flipping over rapidly.
Two years later I was in High Altitude in Chicago when a new face appeared in the adjacent area (East High). We introduced each other—his name was Floyd Deaton, he’d started in Cleveland Center, but was just recently returned from San Juan. That piqued my interest and I immediately asked him if he knew the The Hummer, Bill, and Ron, and of course, he did. We spent the next several shifts sharing experiences common to those of us who had hired in around the same time and about people whom we both knew.
I learned his story—that he had gone to San Juan, the agreement for which usually was you got to pick where you wanted to return when your two year tour was completed. In Floyd’s case, the FAA hosed him by saying, “no, you have Return Rights to the region from which you transferred.” Good deal—that made his choices Cleveland (which he had gone to San Juan to get away from), Indianapolis, Chicago, or Minneapolis. A Hobson’s Choice, Floyd elected for Chicago.
Floyd was an entertaining guy and told great stories. One of the best, and one that Roddy and I quote from on a regular basis involved Floyd, Bill, and Ron who had gone to Tampa for an R&R trip mid tour at San Juan. They had just gotten off their respective flights and had met up in a local pub to begin their pursuit of the local talent. The bar was a little dead and they struck up a conversation with the barmaid, who was a comely purveyor of spirits and good cheer.
They told their tales and spun their yarns and the barmaid gave as good as she got during the evening. About the time her shift was ending they had related how they were strangers in town, they only had a short time in town together, and as fun as she was, they were really each looking for something a little more intimate, if not long lasting.
They must have made a good impression and she must have been quite a sport, because she hesitated a moment, then said, “what the heck, let’s go to my place—there’s not but three of you.”
It had always been our dream to meet another like that, but it’s probably like Xanadu or Eldorado—it only exists in the imagination. It may have come from Floyd’s but it’s too good not to pass on—and dream…
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