American Gothic

Many who have been there remember with the phrase: “Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far, away”.  Our distant star travel began in the early spring of 1967 when we reported for duty at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida.  There to greet us was an “as good as it gets” Marine Sargent Drill Instructor.  Only the best for future Naval Aviators.  Seventy-Five days later, we were commissioned as Ensigns in the United States Navy.  During that time Sargent Washington made sure we kept our dorm rooms perfectly in order; shaved properly; got dressed immaculately; ate properly; got to classes on time; and exercised everyday. We gave him a dollar when he was the first to salute us as newly commissioned officers.  It was on that day that our wives joined us on our starship.

Jim and Diane Bettiga were on that starship with Linda and me.  We would sometimes leave the military arena of Pensacola to find a welcoming retreat from our toils.  One day we dashed over to Mobile Bay that separates Florida and Alabama.  It was a lazy place; a bit desolate, but away from the daily influences of controlled living.  We had a picnic basket filled with the necessary items to relax in comfort.  Good wine; good cheese; and beautiful women.

Jim wandered out to this little point for a better view carrying is glass of red with him.

Jim Bettiga on Mobile Bay

Jim Bettiga on Mobile Bay


After a while, N. C. Wyeth’s “American Gothic” popped up in our conversation out of nowhere.  Shortly, this image was created.

American Gothic

American Gothic

We kept in touch for many years after returning from that far away galaxy and leaving Naval Aviation to be a firm memory for the rest of our lives.  Then we lost contact for several decades.  Last fall, with the aid of the internet, we connected our stars again in the space of an hour.  We picked up where we left off only with grandchildren added to the conversations instead of the thought of having children.

They still had their copies of these images…as precious to them as they are to us!


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