Twenty one years signifies coming of age, at least as far as birthdays go. Perhaps it is the same with careers. Frank Stevens’ military career began with the World War II training that led up to “entrance upon active duty” on February 24, 1942. By the twenty-one-year mark in February of 1963, that career must have borne the feeling of coming of age, for it was a bare four months afterwards when Frank made things official and left his Air Force home for civilian life. He was now on his own.
Frank still seems to have no idea what he can do with his life upon that momentous shift. With all his training in the medical field during his years in the Navy, he had once commented that the only thing he could see himself doing was not hospital duty, but sales work. By the time he actually signed his DD-214, making effective his official “out” date on June 30, 1963, it looks like the only career possibility he can find, once again, is sales.
Some time in the next few years, he settles on a position as manager for a place called El Paso Sonotone. While the title might have been manager, the actual job entailed being a traveling sales representative for a company known for its hearing aids.
If “El Paso” refers to the city wedged into the Texas border between New Mexico and the country of Mexico, it is not far from Alamogordo, the town where Frank’s last Air Force assignment had been. A drive on U.S. Route 54 from Alamogordo to El Paso, while nearly ninety miles’ distance, would be no longer a commute than some of my neighbors here do on a daily basis—an annoying necessity of life in the daily grind.
It seems counter-intuitive to find that, at about the time of Frank’s retirement from Air Force life, he and Norma move their family from Alamogordo in the totally opposite direction. The new Stevens home is soon established, not in the Texas city of El Paso, but in Albuquerque.
With that move, life is going to be very different for all of them.
Photograph, lower right: U. S. Route 54 in New Mexico, courtesy Wikipedia; photograph in the public domain.