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My First Recurring Dream

Grady Arnold


By 1946, I had the command of a few words and could understand a small amount of the things going on around me. I was a large kid for my age, and I could walk around and explore things.  I was two years old that year.  I lived in Detroit with my mom and grandmother.

Dad came home from the war with a chest covered with medals and arms covered with stripes. The end of the war brought a giant amount of male labor that had been absent for five years.  He finally found a job working with carpenters who built doors.  His job was to put the finished doors in the correct stack after the carpenters had finished.  This was quite a change for a young man who had excelled as a propeller aircraft engine mechanic during the invasion of Europe.  At the time I did not know about his war injuries and wounds.  We would meet him in the small apartment after work.  I did not understand how bored and unhappy he was.

After coming home from her work, my grandmother would take me down to the drug store just below the apartment for a scoop of ice cream.  One night, as we both sat there eating ice cream, my parents appeared, and Dad went to the pay phone on the wall.  In a few minutes, he was laughing and very animated talking to Colonel Spicer who was in Panama with a wing of aircraft.  After that, Dad, with his rank reinstated and a set of orders from the Defense Department, quit his job and headed to Panama.

Mom and I drove a 1937 Graham-Paige from Portage, Pennsylvania, to New Orleans. The car was loaded on to a captured WWl German troop carrier which carried us to Panama.

After we got situated in a garage apartment on base, I started having a recurring dream.  The dream was very soothing and comforting to me.  I had my own room, and my Dad had, over a period of a couple of mornings, taught me to tie my own shoes.  The dream was of me walking up the sidewalk just behind our home with my Dad holding my left hand.  Nothing was said in the dream.  The weather was good in the dream.  He was in his formal uniform with all his citations and medals walking with me up the hillside toward our little house.  This dream came around quite often, and my young mind started to remember it.

Then one day, Dad announced that he was going to the Pacific for the new H-bomb tests.  He painted and sold  the Graham-Paige. Then there was a final review of the wing which included a parade and other ceremonies.  Dad walked down to the parade site early.  Later, Mom walked with me down to the site.

After the parade, Mom met Dad and we walked along together for a while. Then they decided one of them should go to the post office to check the mail. They decided Mom would go and Dad would take me up to our little house.

So, there we were together: Dad, in his dress uniform with all the medals and Croix de Guerre,  holding my left hand as we slowly walked up that sidewalk.  Then I realized that this was my dream.  After that, the dream never returned, but it did become a fond memory, us  walking along silently together for a few moments.