Posted by: David Carlson | February 17, 2009

Life in the Azores

Here is a post for the Memoirs category.  How to make an interesting story out of this is my objective. Dwelling on the past is boring.

My friend Beryl Singleton Bissell published a book, The Scent of God, an excellent example of a memoir turned into an interesting story.  She’s working on another more painful life story.  See the link to her blog on my WordPress sidebar.

One of the Power Writing posts from publication coach, Daphne Gray-Grant, provides suggestions for making a boring subject interesting. Start with a metaphor.  Attempt a precise word count, like 500.  Run the story through a readability analysis. Write without adjectives and adverbs.  Eliminate forms of the “to be” verb.

Already I can see the difficulty in eliminating adverbs and adjectives in the previous three paragraphs.

Life in the Azores begins amidst wars, 1971.  Vietnam I avoided without trying.  In the war between Israel and Egypt, I supported both sides.  Portugal owns Lajes Air Force Base on the Island of Terceira in the Azores, and I supported three of their wars in Africa.  If you like to visit history as a time traveler, my wife and I moved to the Azores as through a time portal, to a 1910 lifestyle for all but a few islanders, under the oppression of a 1930’s style fascist government. In less than two years we became parents,  changed our religion, and I made the decision not to pursue a career as an Air Force officer. Life-changing transformations continue after more than 35 years as a result of our life in the Azores.

Some of the preliminary stories already appear under the Memoirs category of this blog.  My military decision begins with Air Force ROTC at the College of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN., a program available to me as a Macalester College student.  The Air Force paid me $50 per month after enrolling in ROTC.   I went to boot camp at Gunter AFB, Montgomery, Alabama, July and August 1966.  I saw Martin Luther King Jr.’s march through Cicero, IL., from the train window on the trip south.  My first assignment as a commissioned second lieutenant in 1969 earned me a 12-month graduate certificate in Meteorological Engineering from Oklahoma University at Norman; paid $400 a month.

At Shepard Air Force Base, TX., I supported the War in Vietnam directly.  I provided weather forecasts and briefings to  helicopter and fighter pilots in training, and B-52 bomber crews.  All of  my coworkers in the weather detachment had served in Vietnam or soon would.  An officer’s privilege included filling out a dream sheet for future assignments. I don’t remember my three choices.  The Azores I had never heard of before I got my assignment.

Our time machine,  a C-141 cargo aircraft, had no windows, seats all facing the rear of the plane. A mid-Atlantic hurricane delayed our flight from New Jersey for six hours.  Unlike time travelers to the 14th century, our knight greeted us not with a sword, but everything we need to start a new life.

That’s all I get for 500 words, including the intro.

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