CHAPTER SIX
John & Jo Had Changed
     After a short leave John was to report to Ft. Bliss, El Paso TX. We had each changed during the war. John had began to lose his hair and boyish appearance. I had become more independent. We decided not to go along with the rhythm method anymore, as I didn't want to be a widow with 5 kids if he went off to war again. We were together again but not the giddy youngsters we had been before.
 
 
 
 
Easter, 1954
John & Jo
Cathy & Peggy
 
       We lived in Army Quarters, but they were off the base. At least I think they were quarters. It was a group of large buildings in a rectangle shape, with large sand yard in between. Three buildings on each side, two on each end. There were 4 large apartments in each building. We shared ours with 2 Lts and a Master Sargeant.  
 
 
 
Top row: Toots Belgie & Jo
Bottom row: Jim, Cathy, Peggy & Carrie

Probable Identifications: Toots (Clara) Belgie, Jo Hunt (Now Cooper)
Jim Belgie, Cathy Hunt, Peggy Hunt, Carrie (Carol) Belgie
 
  Our best friends were Jim and Toots Belgie who lived upstairs. My other best friend was Erica, a nice German gal who lived across the building. All three of us had youngsters under 5 years old. This is where John put together a large wire play pen outside in the dirt where I put both little tots. I could lift them over. No gate. Don't actually remember John building it. I may have done it myself or had other help. Just know it was a life saver when they could play there instead of in the house all the time. It was here we all had chicken pox. Was especially bad for me as an adult. We had to hire a Mexican gal to help with kids and my Spanish was very limited. Know I said the word for walk to get her to take them for a walk. Wondered what she thought of me, all covered in pink calamine (sp?) Lotion and in pain. She probable knew very well. Helped me good anyway. I didn't have regular help there. I did everything myself. We had a washing machine with a wringer and I hung everything outside. Dried fine there, very hot all year.
     I baby sat for money. Once for a Nixon party.
     Ski, John's good friend, baby sat for us often. I also went square dancing with him. Liked him very much.
     It was in El Paso the only time in my life I got very very drunk. We went to a party. They had vodka punch. I didn't know as you can't taste it much. I was wearing a hand made black and gold sweater that showed off my ample breasts. The other Capt's wives there were all dressed in suits. My cocktail dress outfit with black velvet skirt with tight black sweater attracted their husbands too much. I drank way too much and invited several people home for coffee. When I got home I remember fixing myself instant coffee and breaking the jar on the floor. I was sitting on floor in my party clothes, velvet skirt and sweater, scooping up coffee saying "It's all the coffee we have." Ski helped me up and put me to bed. John had passed out and no one else came over. I haven't drunk vodka since then.
 

 
 
Jo remembers Jim & Toots Belgie
Letter written in June, 1987
     I met and loved Jim and Toots since I met them in El Paso, Texas some 36 years ago when our children were tiny and the men were in the Army.
     My marriage was terrible at the time. My husband was an alcoholic and I had the responsibility of my two tiny daughters myself. But I well remember the soothing effect when I visited the Belgie's upstairs. Jim usually sat in the kitchen, reading or just talking to Toots as she ironed at night after our kids were all asleep. For years afterwards I remembered them as an example of what marriage coud be (and eventually divorced and re-married).
     We kept in touch with letters at Christmas time all these years and even though I didn't see them for years, I will miss them.
 

 
 
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