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The year I became a dad PDF Print E-mail
Monday, November 26, 2012 11:18 AM

In 1968, you could buy a gallon of gas for 34 cents; the average cost of a new house was $14,950; the average cost of a new car was $2,822; and minimum wage was only $1.60 an hour with the average income per year being $7,850.

It was a year that consisted of both good and bad events. Apollo 8 became the first manned space craft to orbit the moon and Richard M. Nixon was elected president.  Tragically, both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated and the controversial Vietnam War was continuing. That war became more personal when I became a soldier in the United States Army.

My wife, Janie, and I had only been married for four months. I was taking a break from college and continuing to work as a part-time regular at the Kroger grocery store for $3 an hour. We were enjoying married life in our duplex apartment but for some reason had stayed all night at my wife’s parent’s home.

After breakfast, we got in our 1961 Ford Galaxy 500 to head for our home but it wouldn’t start. John Dunn, my father-in-law, was trying to help me get the car started. During that effort we managed to catch the driver’s side front door in the sloping side of the yard which caused it to be damaged and also broke out a rear tail light when John gave us a push with his Chevy station wagon.

The good news was the car was running and we were headed for home. Unfortunately, the engine of our car caught on fire before we arrived. Fortunately, we were close to a service station when the car burst into flames. Workers at the station extinguished the fire, and helped me push the car into their parking area.

Since we were close to home and it would be a while before we’d know how much repairs would cost or if we could afford to fix the car, we walked to our apartment. We were somewhat shaken as it had been a difficult morning but we were grateful that we weren’t injured, that we had a home to go to and that we were so much in love. It was a tough day but surely it would start getting better.

Before going inside, I got our mail and noticed that there was a registered letter from the United States Army. The letter notified me that I had been drafted and was to report for duty in two weeks. What had been a tough day in March 1968, became even more difficult…

The following months were full of challenging days and lonely nights as I made the adjustment to serving our country and being trained as a non-commissioned officer. I had orders to go to Vietnam but a kidney infection was temporarily putting that assignment on hold. It was November 13, 1968, when I received word that my wife was in labor and would soon be giving birth to our first child. The Army gave me emergency leave and I boarded a bus that would take me on a 13-hour journey from Fort Knox, Ky., to the hospital in Parkersburg, W.Va.>

I was glad that I got there before the birth of our child, but was only allowed to see Janie for a few minutes before I was chased out of the room. Dads were not allowed in the delivery room in those days.  I remember pacing the floor and hoping that everything was going to be okay. Finally, a nurse came out holding a little baby boy and told me both mommy and baby were doing fine.

This November, we’ve had the opportunity to celebrate Veteran’s Day and to remember those who have served and are serving to defend our freedom as well as others.  We’ve also enjoyed another Thanksgiving and have given thanks to our Heavenly Father for all of His blessings.

I’m so thankful for life. Tomorrow, Janie and I will celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary at Delphos First Assembly of God with our church family.

The years continue to quickly come and go. Years full of special moments and memories like that day of Nov. 14, 1968, when almost one year after marrying Janie, I became a father to Michael Steven Eaton. It really sank in when I got to hold Mike for the first time — I was a dad!


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