Monday, May 30, 2016
Here’s a rerun of my annual Memorial Day blog. There’s nothing to add.
Today’s the day I lovingly remember childhood friends Howard Morse and Wally Pratt, sweet young men who died in Vietnam before they were old enough to vote.
Howard never really fit in anywhere but he tried so hard to be one of the cool kids. He was sweet, funny, and chivalrous. When he came to my house every Wednesday night for help with his English homework, my mother fed him pretzels and Faygo Red Pop and when he left she always said, ‘That Howard is a nice boy.’ And he was.
Our junior high school had a dance just about every Friday night. Howard and I usually went together. His dad would drive us there and my sister picked us up. It wasn’t a date, just a ride to the dance. But every Friday night when the music began, boys lined up on one side of the gym and girls on the other, Howard always asked me for the first dance. He was sweet in many ways.
Summer evenings I’d sit in the swing out on the front porch before bedtime and quite often Howard would walk the several blocks from his house and sit with me, swinging and talking softly about his hopes and dreams. He wanted to be a soldier.
Marine Corporal Howard E. Morse died October 25, 1967 in Quang Nam, South Vietnam. He’s on panel 28E Line 69 of The Wall.
Then there was Wally. Wally Pratt was a skinny, kind of dorky kid who wore bow ties and played the violin. He was sensitive and had his feelings hurt easily.
We were partners in junior high dancing class. All we had to do was learn the box step but you would have thought it was Dancing With The Stars the way we went about it. We were clumsy with our hands, feet and bodies and neither of us knew where anything went.
I stepped on Wally, Wally stepped on me. I know we were a sight. Then, as suddenly as you could imagine, we got it. We were dancing. We looked at each other in amazement, laughed, and Wally yelled out for the whole class to hear, ‘We’re DOIN’ IT!!’
In my memory I think the teacher, Miss Hoffman, clapped but maybe she didn’t. Next thing I knew we were dipping and twirling. It’s one of the happiest memories I have of junior high school and to this day it makes me smile. Wally always made me smile.
Combat Medic PFC Walter Raymond Pratt died February 8, 1968, Quang Nam, South Vietnam. He listed on Panel 38E line 37 of The Wall.