Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sometimes a Great Adversity Affects Us Less Than Its Aftermath by Zoe M. McCarthy

“Mom! What’s going on?”
“I don’t know.”

Zoe M. McCarthy

I located my mother in her bedroom, where she furiously packed a suitcase. 

The date was October 22, 1962. The principal’s grave voice had come over William T Sampson High School’s PA system. “Go directly home.” 

We always rode the gray Naval buses home for the lunchtime break on the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Naval Base. But that day, I saw suitcases in the yards along the route home.

Completely bewildered, and my heart thumping, I exited the bus two stops early and, under the hot tropical sun, raced to our standard wooden house in officers’ housing. 

Mom knew only that we were being evacuated. She told me to quickly pack a few things. In my room, I grabbed my curlers, some underwear, and a blouse. 

Daddy detoured from making sure all American civilians were evacuated from an enlisted men’s housing area for a brief goodbye.

Within two hours, my mother, my eleven-year-old brother, and I boarded the military transport, the Upshur, a ship then used to convey transferred military families to their new assignments.

Among the crowd on deck, a woman still wore horseback riding clothes; another older woman claimed this was her second evacuation, the first being Pearl Harbor.

Directed into the ship’s hold, where troops were normally billeted, Mom and I were ushered to the left and my brother, sporting a cast on his broken arm, was steered to the right. My tow-headed brother looked so vulnerable. Later, I saw him once. He begged for clean socks.

Mom and I claimed bunk beds, then I went up to find my friends. During the three-day trip at sea, Mom stayed mostly below deck. I checked on her occasionally. 

We teens pooled together the best we could, singing our rendition of Neil Sedaka’s “Breakin’ Up Is Hard to Do:”

“They say leaving GITMO is hard to do,
now we know, we know that it’s true,
don’t say this is the end,
instead of leaving GITMO,
we wish we were going back again.”

A bull of a Marine sergeant policed the decks, commanding teen boys to “Get aft!” 
Young enlisted women were issued MP armbands, and in their new power, barked assignments to teens. My girlfriends and I sidestepped being sent to clean the toilets plugged with soiled baby diapers. The teen guys served food to the endless lines of hungry evacuees until the boys’ eyes were bloodshot.

Mid trip, the ship quieted to hear President Kennedy apologize over ship's speakers for uprooting us from our homes. I recalled days earlier when Upshur passengers told me the captain’s ruse that the ship had a broken boiler and was stuck in GITMO for repairs. So, days before we sailed, the U.S. government prepared to evacuate civilians.

When we docked in Norfolk, Virginia, it was snowing. A nearby hangar contained miles of racks of donated coats. Dressed in coats over our short-sleeved cotton shirts, we entered processing. Mom was overwhelmed, so I made all the decisions. Her parents lived in frigid Ohio; Daddy’s lived in sunny Florida, where my older sister attended college. We’d go to Florida.

I was immediately enrolled in a sophisticated high school where madras attire was the rage. But I had only one skirt and two blouses. On the first day, the English teacher looked at the form indicating I came from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She didn’t look at me, but asked if I could speak English. Until that moment, as a typical self-centered teen, I’d viewed the Cuban missile crisis evacuation as an adventure. Now reality struck. Her question offended and sobered me. The next three months in that school, before we returned to GITMO, became the real crisis for me.

Do you have such a story?

About the Author
Zoe M. McCarthy believes that opposites distract. Thus, she spins Christian contemporary romances entangling extreme opposites. Her tagline is Distraction to Attraction, Magnetic Romances Between Opposites. Her first novel is Calculated Risk. She has two other contemporary romances and a nonfiction book to help writers ready their manuscripts coming out soon. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She enjoys leading workshops on the craft of writing; speaking about her faith; planning fun events for her 5 grandchildren; and exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she lives with her husband, John. 
Calculated Risk
by Zoe M. McCarty

Learn more about Zoe M. McCarthy at her website: http://zoemmccarthy.com

Calculated Risk

What happens when an analytical numbers man meets a mercurial marketing Rep? Romance is a calculated risk…

Jilted by the latest of her father’s choices of “real men,” Cisney Baldwin rashly accepts an invitation to spend Thanksgiving weekend with a sympathetic colleague and his family. Nick LeCrone is a man too much her opposite to interest her and too mild-mannered to make her overbearing father’s “list.” Now, Cisney fears Nick wants to take advantage of her vulnerable state over the holiday. Boy, is she wrong.

Nick wants little to do with Cisney. She drives him crazy with all her sticky notes and quirks. He extended an invitation because he felt sorry for her. Now he’s stuck, and to make matters worse, his family thinks she’s his perfect match. He’ll do what he can to keep his distance, but there’s just one problem—he’s starting to believe Cisney’s magnetism is stronger than he can resist.

Purchase links for Calculated Risk: http://zoemmccarthy.com/books