The summers were mainly a round of haying, delivering milk, sometimes fishing in the little stream that went through Moses' land, occasionally swimming in Mirror Lake at Lake Placid, where the cold water turned my lips blue.
Meanwhile, back in Maplewood, where I lived most of the year, I continued school. I was a fair scholar, though it was noted that I never did what I was capable of. Instead I read books, played in a dance band, having mastered enough at the guitar, and dreamed of becoming a writer. I dated, had my heart broken, recovered. Looking back on it now, it all seems very tame. I had very few problems. But something must have been amiss because, at the age of fifteen or so, I ran away from home, went to New York City and found a job in a photography lab. I telephoned my parents to let them know I was all right. They asked to see me. I agreed, and they asked me to stay home until I was seventeen and had graduated high school, at which point, if I still wanted to leave, I could go with their blessings. I agreed to do it that way, but I never ran away again.
Then one summer the Second World War ended. I was seventeen, on Moses' farm in upstate New York. The draft was still on. If I were drafted, it would mean a three-year hitch. But if I enlisted, I could join for eighteen months. Of course, the draft might be over by the time they got around to me. But it might not be. With eighteen months' service I could get three years of college on the GI Bill. And I wasn't ready for college yet. I enlisted.
I was sent to Fort Dix, then to Camp Polk, Louisiana, for my basic training. After four weeks' training as a medic, I was shipped to Camp Stoneman, California, and from there onto a troopship bound for Korea where I was to become an infantryman, even though I had not yet fired a rifle.
I landed in Korea, at the port of Inchon. There was a long, slow train ride to Yungdungpo, then another train ride to Seoul. I was in Seoul just long enough to be assigned to George Company, 32nd Infantry, 7th division, stationed at Kaesong on the 38th parallel.
Once there, I walked guard duty. Outpost guard, ammo dump guard, outpost guard. Guard duty was all our company did. I had one break from this when the sergeant, noticing from my papers that I was able to type, assigned me to type up secret reports on the location of gold mines in North Korea.
I wanted to get to Seoul, where I could find work with the regimental dance band. But there were no passes to Seoul. Finally I got a pass, by breaking my glasses.