One of the problems I had, after my return from the navy, was my age. As previously stated, I met The Group when I was not quite 21 years old. This fact was not common knowledge, and had it become known my newly acquired, and much cherished, status with my new friends might be jeopardized.
My age was not an issue at The Office. As an accepted member of the group, and therefore Office “regular”, I was known and never questioned. And when, on Sunday nights, we would migrate to the Irish Club, I was still okay. But a general knowledge of my minority within the group itself could easily be a fatal flaw. Also, it must be considered that credibility with my new friends aside, there were other places I needed – or at least very much wanted – to go, and an ID was often required.
So I formed what was to be the perfect plan. Upon my release from active duty service, I had automatically become a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve, with meetings every Thursday evening at the armory in Phillips Park. At a meeting, a couple of weeks after my return, I went to the Yeoman’s office, claiming that my ID card had been lost, and that I needed another. The Yeoman on duty – at that carefully chosen moment – who typed out my new card, while not a friend, was a close enough acquaintance so that, rather than digging out my file, he simply asked me what information needed to be filled in. When he asked for date of birth, I mis-stated the year as 1945. The card was completed, laminated, and properly issued. Suddenly, in the eyes of the United States Navy – and by extension, the world at large – I was 21 years old, and could, if asked, display unimpeachable proof.
A year later, while on temporary active duty attending Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration School at the Naval Training Center in San Diego, I reversed the process. I destroyed the fraudulent card and applied for a new one. This one, issued by a regular Navy Yeoman and a complete stranger, was correct in every way, and I was 21 for another year.
This all taking place almost 50 years ago, I feel comfortable telling this story, as I’m sure the statute of limitations on this mis-deed has expired.