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A Work of Creative Non-Fiction – MARRIED TO PROPERTY OF UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT – A MEMOIR AS A MILITARY WIFE AND THEN SOME


This is a work of creative non-fiction. The events are portrayed to the best of my knowledge. Memoir is written from memory and memory can be flawed. If I got anything wrong, I apologize.

I have changed some people’s names and/or descriptions to protect privacy. All Rights Reserved.

The Dedication For My Book – “MARRIED TO PROPERTY OF UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT – A MEMOIR AS A MILITARY WIFE AND THEN SOME”


I am writing this book and publishing it in a non-traditional way. In other words, I am publishing it on my blog and not charging a fee to people to read it. There are several reasons for it, but any income from it would screw up my government disability and what I am eligible for so no income will be derived from it, just my pleasure in having people read it. I can print out the actual document and make my own book if I want to.

I dedicate this book to my children and their father, Andrew Smeigh. Between us, we had 3 great children and 4 grandchildren (at the time this was written).

I also dedicate this book to our best friends Charles and Kimbaly Stanley who were there for us during the military years and who helped raise our children, while my husband and I were working. My husband was defending our country and I was serving the Officers of the Military at their Officer’s club in their times of recreation.

I also thank Charlie for his service to our country and to Kim for standing by him as a dedicated Military wife.

Thank you,

Teresa Smeigh

Chapter One – Government Property (Here Comes the Bride)


Chapter One

Government Property (Here Comes the Bride)

It has been said that when you join the military you become government property. They own you. My husband was even told that if he got a sunburn and it was bad enough that he could be court-martialed for destroying government property. I know there were lots of other things I thought were silly, but as a military dependent, I wasn’t important enough for anything. My role was to make sure that things were right for my husband, back him up, keep my mouth shut and behave myself by following the rules no matter what I thought of them.

There were lots of rules that we were expected to obey. He wasn’t allowed to wear his camouflaged uniform (cammies as they were known) in town unless he was in his car. We had to make sure he got gas soon enough, so he didn’t run into the problem of having to get gas and not be able to get out of the car to get it because he was in his cammies either on his way to or from work. We had to get out and pump our own gas in North Carolina and that included me. I was glad when we came back to New Jersey and I didn’t have to pump my own gas anymore. It is against the law here. He had to be in civilian clothes in order to be able to be outside the car in town.

While in uniform there was no kissing or other public displays of affection allowed including holding hands. There was even a rule against adultery in some places.

The soldiers were not allowed to put their hands in their pockets despite having plenty of them. One of the reasons for that was to keep their right hands free for saluting their officers. No wonder so many of them ended up standing at parade rest. They had no idea what to do with their hands. You could tell a military man by how he stood with his hands behind his back and his feet about 10 inches apart.

They had to watch their language. Indecent language was not allowed.

Haircuts were expected once a week, two weeks tops. Heaven forbid your hair got too long. Andy kept his short anyhow as he had naturally curly hair and the longer it was it started to curl up.

While walking they couldn’t eat, drink, or talk on their cell phone. There were no cell phones back when Andy was in the military, but that was a new rule when they became commonly used by just about everyone. They must walk on the right side so their right arm was free to salute. No walking on the grass unless you they were training or mowing the grass.

One that affected me was that his cammies had to be properly ironed every day. We couldn’t afford to take them to the cleaners to have them done, so I washed, starched and ironed his cammies all the time. Not my favorite job, but as the wife, it was my duty to see that he was properly dressed. Ironing cammies is not easy.

Now, these were just some of the rules. There were many others and some of them were downright stupid, but those were the ones that I can relate to at this point. We found a lot of them out by accidentally breaking one or more.

Andrew, known as Andy to most, had originally wanted to join the Military and be on a submarine, just like his brother. It had been a dream of his, and they smashed it when they found out we were planning on getting married and soon. We had already booked everything and mailed the invitations.

“You can enlist with us if you postpone your wedding. We need you now and it’s not negotiable,” the recruiter told us. They could care less if our invitations were already mailed, received and the wedding gifts were already arriving.

I knew this was a dream of Andy’s and I didn’t know what to say or do. I didn’t know what he would say or do either. I waited with bated breath and looked first at Andy and then the recruiter, before sliding my eyes back to Andy.

“We can’t stop the wedding now. We are too far along. I will have to pass if you can’t make an exception for us.” Andy was calm and polite, but he was determined to keep our wedding date and for that, I was eternally grateful to him. I knew how hard it was for him to give up that dream of being on a submarine just like his older brother.

The wedding went on as planned on July 10, 1976. It was a medium-sized wedding with a reception right there in the church. We had cake and ice cream, along with chips and pretzels and punch. We had no choice as my parents could only afford $500.00, and I had to plan and hold the wedding and reception on that amount. We had nothing saved to add to it.

My wedding gown was simply a long white dress, bought two sizes too small so that I would have to lose the extra weight I had gained (which I did). My maid of honor, my sister Debbie, and the bridesmaids, Kathy Bradley, and Gail Anderson, had dresses that came off the clearance rack for $12.00 each. No major changes needed to be made to any of them. I couldn’t believe my luck since the cost of my sister’s dress had to come out of my little budget.

The ceremony was held in the Lutheran Church in Wenonah, New Jersey, and my biggest problem with having it there was that they didn’t have pews and only had metal chairs. To me a church had pews. I couldn’t change churches as my favorite pastor was there, and I wanted him to perform the ceremony.

When the pastor asked if there was anyone who objected, my friend Sandy’s baby screamed. Sandy had been told not to bring her child to the wedding, but she did anyway, and the baby just happened to scream when the pastor asked if there were any objections. Everyone was looking around to see who had screamed. Seeing it was just a baby, we went back and finished the ceremony.

I was now Mrs. Andrew Smeigh. No one can pronounce or spell it. I should have kept my maiden name of Dean. It wasn’t as common back then for the wife to keep her maiden name, and I am old-fashioned anyway and would have taken my husband’s name no matter what it was. Just like I would follow him anywhere, which not too long after that I followed him to North Carolina when another recruiter from a different branch called and said he could enlist with them even though he was already married.

My mother-in-law, sister-in-law and I drove down to South Carolina for the graduation from boot camp. I had lost a lot of weight and he had too, plus he was bald. I didn’t recognize him at first. I know he was surprised when he saw me as well because I looked good. While he was gone, I had no money except for what my part-time job paid me because the military messed up my allotment and I never got it for the 13 weeks he was gone. Not much food and exercising by running around the long block had made me drop a lot of the weight I gained after we got married.

After he had graduated from the 13-week boot camp with a meritorious promotion to Private First Class, we had gone home directly from the graduation and packed all our belongings into boxes, and we were ready to load the car for our trip to North Carolina for his training. All the nice boxes I had packed did not fit in the car, and finally in exasperation, Andy ripped them open and just dumped all the contents into the trunk and back seat and we left what didn’t fit. We had a long car trip from New Jersey to North Carolina and, we needed to get started. He had been given 10 days of leave till he needed to be at his duty station for training, plus one day for traveling.

After a very long drive, we arrived late that night at the building on the base where Andy was supposed to report for training. Since we were already married when he enlisted, it never crossed our mind that they would have a problem with him bringing me along after boot camp.

It was dark when we arrived and, we were later than we should have been, but we had no idea where we were going. Exiting the car finally at the designated building, he went first and stood at attention. I slouched in behind him.

Looking at the faces of those soldiers was not a pleasant experience. We were late, and he arrived with someone they were not expecting.

“Who is that?” one of the men asked, and it was obvious none of them were amused in the least.

“My wife sir!” I was wishing I could just disappear at this point.

He said, “What did you plan to do with her?”

“Sir, we have money saved since they never started the allotment to her during boot camp, so we were going to get a place to live in town.”

Again, they talked among themselves. The recruiter knew we were married, and we had expected rejection since his first choice, had already turned him down. The recruiter said it was not a problem so Andy signed up and went to boot camp. These guys were uninformed of the fact that he was married and obviously had not been in this position before. They went back to the conversation about what to do about me.

I don’t know how Andy felt, but I wanted to cry. I was tired from all the packing and repacking. Add in the long trip and being in a place I didn’t know, and the only person I knew was my husband. We waited with bated breath.

A verdict was finally settled on. There were specific rules since he wouldn’t be living in the barracks like the other recruits, but we could live with them. I had to drive him onto the base to the barracks very early every morning and then pick him up every night once they were done for the day. He was required to take his turn doing guard duty at the barracks, called Fire Watch and on those nights, he had to stay overnight. On the days they had a field day, which was a deep cleaning of the whole barracks, he had to participate in that as well.

We found a mobile home park just a short way off the base. It was called Yopps Mobile Home Park in Sneads Ferry, NC and every day I drove him to the barracks and back home. It wasn’t far at all. I kept myself occupied driving the other wives around during the day shopping, doctor appointments, etc. That was until the day I found out I was pregnant with my first child.

 

 

 

Chapter Two of my Book “Government Property – Memoir of a Military Wife”


This is Chapter Two. If you missed Chapter One click here and go to the book page and read it first.

Andy and I at approximately 16 years old and me in one of the short shorts I made a lot of and a short top I wore similar to those I always wore.

Teresa Dean at 16 in my bikini.

Teresa Dean at age 17 in my hip huggers.

Teresa Dean Smeigh at age 19, just 6 months after we got married. Andy was in boot camp and I had to send a picture of me in my bathing suit to be hung on the board. He was the only one married there, but he put me on the board anyhow. He was proud of me.

********************

Chapter Two

Eye’s Left (Exhibitionist)

I was an exhibitionist from my preteen years to my young adult years. Basically, I was, until I had my first baby, and I lost my figure if you want to get right down to it.  My self-esteem rose when I knew a man was excited by me. I dressed very skimpily whenever I could. I needed proof that I was somebody, be it hot, sexy, pretty, whatever. I just felt like I was nothing. This is something I felt all my life.

My first real job was as a salesgirl for Wanamakers in the mall in Deptford, NJ. It was recently built. I never thought about there being a dress code, after all, I was just a teenager. On my first day, I arrived at work in my normal attire of a micro-mini skirt and a tight top that barely covered my stomach.

My boss took one look at me and said I won’t send you home right now because we need you, but you need to lower your skirts to your knees or wear pants. And all tops must cover your stomach. Hmm, what a conundrum, as my wardrobe didn’t really contain many of those. I spent the next couple of days sewing suits – pants, skirts, and a matching jacket, and I got some shirts to wear under the jacket. More sewing than I was used to since most things I made didn’t take more than a half a yard of material. A suit with a pair of pants and a skirt with a jacket took a lot of material. I made a couple, and each could make two outfits and I worked part-time, so I had enough for the week. The pants I usually wore weren’t acceptable either because I wore hip huggers, since my waist was about 16 to 18 inches tops. I had a true hourglass figure and had to buy the pants to fit my hips.

At that point, I weighed 86 pounds and had a large chest. I loved it when men gawked at me. Even better was when traffic would stop as men gawked at me, almost causing a few traffic accidents. Those days it would make me feel so good about myself. I was a teenager and didn’t know any better. Like I mentioned earlier I would make my own clothes and would make lots of short shorts, short tops and halters and of course micro-mini skirts. I had a sexy body and, I knew it. I loved to show it off. If a man was around, he was usually attracted to me and stared. Nowadays there would probably be just as many women admiring me as men since everyone is coming out of the closet.

Now that I was married and in North Carolina with my husband, I resumed my behavior after an incident that happened one day while I was taking him lunch on base. Our mobile home park was close enough that I could drop him off in the morning and return at lunchtime with his lunch.

Every day I made his lunch and drove it to him on base. On the first day, I found the parking lot where he could find me and sat in my car with the door open and sat sideways in my seat with my legs out and on the ground. I was nervous. It was hot and I was dressed in short shorts and a halter.

Then I could hear a group of men coming as they were marching to a military Cadence. It was fascinating to watch them marching in unison and repeating the cadence their leader was shouting. It was mesmerizing in fact.

What I wasn’t ready for was as they came abreast of my car was the leader shouted, “eyes left!” The platoon, as a whole, turned to face my car and took in the sight of me sitting there skimpily dressed.

It was very disconcerting at first having all those eyes fastened on me. I eventually got used to it happening and provided visual entertainment for the troops most days. My exhibitionism was back in full swing. I didn’t know it then, but there was a dress code for both military and dependents, and I was in violation of it in those clothes while on base. Since I didn’t really get all the way out of the car it wasn’t a big deal, but it meant not getting out of the car while dressed like that and for that matter, it was frowned upon if you kissed in public displays of affection. They certainly had a lot of rules. It eventually became I drove up, waited, he came to me and I handed him his lunch and without a kiss, he headed out to eat.

As fall approached and the temperatures were cooling down, I had to change my wardrobe anyhow and start to wear maternity clothes. I was quite large, and you couldn’t miss that baby and so people stared at me for that. Complete strangers would come up and touch or rub my belly. There’s something about a pregnant woman, especially a tiny one with a large belly. I was still under 100 pounds at the beginning. Sorry to say I never saw that number again after the first child. Each child, in its own way, caused an increase in my weight which I have never been able to get rid of to this day.

Writing about the Military is not going to work very well.


I did some research and there is a large list of words and I mean just words that are trademarked and require permission to use. Believe it or not Just simply the word Marine if it pertains to the military is trademarked and requires a license to use.

Using it occasionally here and there is not going to be an issue I would think, but writing a book and using all those words and such could be big trouble. I found the military wives website and it uses that quote I used in the book name and chapter one. It talks about copyrights and such. It seems like it is going to be more problems than it is worth. I don’t want to get in trouble legally and it is such an important part of my book. I don’t know how I am going to rewrite this to be what I wanted it to be. I had a specific plan in mind and now I find all this stuff is trademarked and needs licensing to use.

I am glad that I got the inclination to look it up. The thought popped into my mind. The government in any form is something I don’t want to get involved with.

And chapter 2 about the skimpy dressing on base is against the dress code which I completely forgot about. I should have remembered. My ex-husband couldn’t get out of his car on the way to the base if he was in his camouflage. They were not allowed to be worn off base. I don’t know if I knew the dress code when I was dressing like that, but I didn’t get out of the car for the most part anyhow.

This really sucks. My whole project has come to a halt.

Tessa

Advocate for mental health and invisible illnesses, also a devout Christian

Author – http://www.finallyawriter.com (this blog contains my old work mostly although occasionally I do add something new here), new work is mainly on this blog http://www.tessacandoit.com

Military may cause some problems with my book.


I was wondering a bit just how serious that phrase “If the Marine Corps had wanted you to have a wife they would have issued one” was. I googled it. Several things came up. I don’t know if it in fact legally belongs to the Marine Corp. I don’t need a problem.

The gist of it is I don’t think using it would be very smart which means changing my title and part of my first and second chapters because as I read on it seems I had violated several rules back then with the dress code. I knew he was under several of course, but I found several sites dedicated to the wives and the dress code especially. Announcing in print that I had violated those rules is not a good idea. Chapter 2 and my wearing my skimpy clothing to entertain the troops wasn’t technically breaking the rules as I didn’t leave the car completely or at least I don’t believe I did, but most likely not a great idea.

So I need a new title, change part of chapter one and revamp and/or put a statement on there as to the dress code for military wives I didn’t know about. Part of this blows my book apart and have to find a new way to go. Back to the drawing board.

Tessa

Advocate for mental health and invisible illnesses, also a devout Christian

Author – http://www.finallyawriter.com (this blog contains my old work mostly although occasionally I do add something new here), new work is mainly on this blog http://www.tessacandoit.com

The book has been updated through chapter one so far (THERE IS A PAGE FOR IT ON THE TOP OF MY BLOG PAGE)


The book has been updated through chapter one. Chapter one is the only chapter that has been vetted through my writing group which includes someone who has been published numerous times and offers her services. Since I am not going the whole real publishing route I figured this is good enough for me. Plus the I get the suggestions from the others in the group as well and so I can pick and choose as to what I agree with.

The group only meets once a month though and the woman I am most interested in doesn’t always come. Therefore her comments will not always be available, so I have to choose whether to go on and post my chapters as they come along (I am halfway done this first book with ideas for 2 more possible after it) and just edit it after I get my edits from them or slowly mete out the story one chapter every month or two, possibly longer if she doesn’t show up. I am just not sure. Plus I would always accept constructive criticism from those of you on here who read it. Most of you are writers as well and know what you are doing and have been published. I already know that commas and I don’t get along well together. When I get my work back from the group meetings there are commas everywhere. I also write long sentences at times and, then I have to break them down.

Tessa

Advocate for mental health and invisible illnesses, also a devout Christian

Author – http://www.finallyawriter.com (this blog contains my old work mostly although occasionally I do add something new here), new work is mainly on this blog http://www.tessacandoit.com