Alive in the Morgue

[Steve]: Auburndale went through to high school. Then went on to Gordon College and part way through Gordon College, I stepped out for a semester. It was the time of the Berlin Crisis [1961]. They called it the Berlin Crisis, when the Russians [Soviet Union] were behind the idea of isolating Berlin. The Americans went in and flew supplies over; they did a bridge of flying of all the supplies until that barricade, as it were, was broken.*

Steve in Fatigues, maybe 1963

Steve in Fatigues, maybe 1963

[Steve]: It was at that time [1962?] that they were “recruiting” people into the army. They weren’t recruiting; they were drafting. I went in, choosing what I wanted to do and that was to work in the medical laboratory. I did that and was a lab technician. When I came out of the army, I did more lab technician work. I finished up at Boston University, where I got my degree in psychology.

[Virginia?]: I think my parents were in South America. I was reading all this to my mom [Lee], that whole thing where you were talking about. . . . She goes, “I don’t remember him being in the service.” I said, “Mom! He was your brother. You didn’t know he was in the service?” Were they in South America at that time? What year was that?

[Steve]: Well actually, I recall being up to visit you in Bloomfield when you broke your leg and got chicken pox and had to be taken to. . . .

[Virginia?]: ‘72.

[Steve]: Yeah. ‘72? No.

[Virginia?]: They [who?] graduated in ‘72.

[Eric?]: ‘74.

[Steve]: Yeah, so actually. . . .

[Heidi]: When they [Steve and Marcia?] got engaged and you went down to visit. . . .

[Virginia?]: That was in ‘65.

[Heidi]: That was in ‘65.

[Marcia]: Yeah. You [Virginia? b. 1963] were just real little then and we got engaged in ‘65 and you [Steve] had just gotten your degree from BU.

[Steve]: Boston University.

[Marcia]: Your undergraduate degree.

[Steve]: But I was then in doing some graduate work.

[Virginia?]: So Mom and Dad had to have been in Peru because she probably doesn’t remember.

[Marcia]: It was early ‘60s.

[Eric?]: She probably doesn’t remember it, but I remember going to an airshow.

[Steve]: Yeah.

[Eric?]: Where you were working in . . . you took us . . . there was a morgue there or something.

[Heidi]: Yes. When you were working. . . .

[Marcia]: Fort Dix.

[Steve]: Fort Dix.

[Eric?]: OK. I don’t remember where it was, but I was just remembering you being there. And then you all sent us off.

[Steve]: Alive.

[Eric?]: Yeah. You gave us a tour of the morgue. But I remember you were working in the lab at that time. I remember you guys sent us off to the airport. I was so impressed with my Uncle Steve and I’m trying to remember why.

[Steve]: Why. Yeah.

[Heidi]: He worked in a morgue.

[Marcia]: He looked pretty smart in his uniform.

[Eric?]: Yes, he did, but anyway, I do remember being there.

NB: See also Steve Finds His Tie for another story from Fort Dix.

*Airlifts of supplies into Berlin took place during WWII, rather than during the Berlin Crisis, which culminated in 1961 with a military stand-off and the erection of the Berlin Wall. During the Berlin Crisis, Kennedy deployed 148,000 Air National Guard and Reservists and increased standing troop-strength in the army, navy, and air force. In my cursory reading, I see no draft mentioned with regard to the Berlin Crisis. However, my recall of this story cites the Vietnam War (1955–1975) as the reason for Dad/Steve being threatened with the draft.

story told by Steve to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014; recorded and transcribed by Dawn [Steve’s daughter]

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • There are a lot of pronouns and names followed by ?-marks. These represent my guesses as to who is talking and whom. Please verify that I guessed correctly or clarify.
  • The unresolved question was whether or not Lee was in Peru in 1962/3 when Steve was in the army. Was she?
  • What year did Steve visit Lee’s family in Bloomfield? Where was/is Bloomfield?
  • Whose leg was broken? Who got chicken pox? Virginia? Kathy?
  • Who graduated in 1974?
  • Why would Lee be in Peru but her kids be in the United States for Steve to visit and/or to visit Steve at Fort Dix?
  • Dad/Steve, I recall this draft-threat being attributed to the Vietnam War. Can you clarify? And can you give the dates during which you were in the service? The other story shows 1962 being one of those dates.
  • Dad/Steve, please tell the sleeping in the morgue story.

4 thoughts on “Alive in the Morgue

  1. Eric

    I think I said ’64, not ’74 (referring to when we saw Uncle Steve-when he worked at the morgue).. That was the year my family was on furlough in Bloomfield, NJ, and I was hit by a car, causing a fracture to my head and a multiple fracture of my femur. I was in a body cast for some time, during which time I developed Chicken Pox and had the upper part of my cast removed to allow me to scratch the itches. My mom was in Peru in ’62, We came on furlough in ’63 and lived at the Brookdale Baptist Church manse ’63-64 (or maybe ’til) ’65. You can remove the ?s by my name, as I was the speaker. Bruce and I graduated high school in ’72 in Peru.

  2. Marcia L. Duncan

    I met Dad in December of 1965. He had graduated from BU in June 1965. I believe he finished his sophomore year at Gordon in May 1959 (we have that year book) and then he heard he would be drafted during the next year so joined the army. Where was he between fall 59 – and spring 1960? That may be when he was joining up and doing basic training. He did some study through BU by extension and through the Army Institute. He has records showing he did 1st semester 60-61 at BU. Then returned in fall 64 and completed his undergraduate studies in spring 65. He was in the army just short of 3 years. So it make sense he was at Fort Dix between 61-64. We lost many of our records in Angola when evacuated out of Jamba so that is why we don’t seem to have his actual discharge papers from the Army. To correct another error which I spoke evidently, we were engaged in April of 1966 the same year we were married.

  3. Marcia L. Duncan

    Okay, Dad came home and we ironed out the dates. First of all Dad left Gordon because he wanted to get premed training and Gordon didn’t offer it. So he did do his junior year at Gordon and transferred to Boston University. He started in fall of 1960 but only did that first semester. If you read far enough into the article about the Berlin Crisis in 1961, Kennedy did call for a doubling of the draft and that is when Dad/Steve decided to join up instead of being drafted. He says that the Vietnamese War was heating up about the time he was discharged from the army. So his dates of being in were from 61-64.

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