Mama’s shoebox of memories: the life of Roger Dodger #1.

Roger the Scanner

When I was looking through this old box of memories that my mother saved all my life, I got this idea to write about things. I thought some of you might enjoy it as some of you ask for stories now and then. Now your stuck with a whole damn shoebox full more of a Boot Box, that's a little bigger.

When I was a youngin back in the 1960's I did not have many friends nor many people that I really looked up to. There was my Father but he was kinda mean and most of the time I walked on eggshells around him.

There was my Grandpa but he was an old man in his 60's and everyone my age back then knew old people were stupid, by the way, I'm in my 60's now. There was my Uncle Denny but he lived in California, My Uncle Ricky I always looked up too and still do today though he was a little older and worked all of the time. I had three sisters and still do, the oldest is Sue Ellen she was only a few years older than me.

Sue had a boyfriend named John. He was from Tupelo, he played the guitar, spoke with a smooth Southern drawl, wore boots, jeans, T-shirts, had a Glen Campbell style haircut, worked at a gas station and drove the hottest looking black Mustang in town. It had mag wheels, hitched up in the back, and was very fast. I got to ride in that car quite a few times. He might have been my sister's boyfriend but from day one he was my older brother. I admired and looked up to John and followed him around like a little puppy dog. He was everything I admired and wanted to be when I grew up. One could imagine how happy I was when my sister married the guy, now he was true-ly my older brother. Not too long after that he was drafted into the Army, many men ran away or tried to get out of it but not John he served.

In Mama's shoebox of memories, I found this letter from Private John Cheek, from Fort Lewis, Washington: Saturday, March 1, 1969,

Dear, Roger

How are you doing today? Everything here is alright. I'm in Fort Lewis Washington. I'm not having too much fun. It's mostly hard work here. I go out every morning and march most of the day, that's not the hard part. It gets hard when we run with a 50-pound pack on our backs for a mile or more. Yesterday we started shooting our rifles. It's a lot of fun to shoot a rifle but not when you shoot at another person.

My advice to you is to stay in school as long as you can and maybe you won't have to come into the Army. It's really not very much fun. I received the valentine, that was real nice, it was one of the first letters I got and it cheered me up a lot.

Well it's time to go to bed, so I've got to cut off. Write me back soon.

P.S. Tell your Mom, Dad and Denise, Hi!

Your Brother in Law, John

It wasn't too long after that John went to Vietnam, a few days before Christmas he was reported as missing.

On Christmas Eve our family gathered to celebrate the holiday and Uncle Denny suggested we pray for John as we received an unopened package back that we sent to him tore up with blood on it.

We stood in a circle holding hands as Uncle Denny led us in prayer, before the prayer was over the phone rang and we were informed that our Johnny was in a hospital wounded. Not too long after that John came home with a Purple Heart. I found the letter in my Mother’s shoebox with many other memories of my life in it, I have been crying ever since. I never thought my Mother cared that much about me to save these memories. My Mom left this life on March 22, of this year though I hadn't seen her in years. I really miss her, these memories are priceless, worth far more than anything I have received in my life.

Thank You Mother, I love you.

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