This visit with you will be all about a topic which many people might not equate with Harry Carter. I will be discussing my personal battle with the twin demons of physical fitness and weight control. But Harry you might ask, aren't you fat? My answer to you will be quite simple indeed. Yes, I have had a weight control problem my friends and it is a problem of long standing.
However, it is one which I have decided to address as part of my march through the decade of my 60's. As an aging Baby Boomer, I have chosen to a better job of taking care of myself. I have many things I still want to accomplish. I also have two weddings and an ordination to attend. And besides, I am having too much fun to check out of this hotel yet.
There have been a number of downsides to addressing my volumetric dysfunction issues. The Carter's spend a lot of money on food. We always have. My clothes have always been more expensive. They still are. I can remember the 'joy' of having my Mom and Dad take me to the only store in Freehold, New Jersey which carried a limited line of 'husky' clothes. For my Freehold buddies old enough to remember, Two Brothers was the store and it was kind of a neat place for people to shop. For me, it was the only bet.
Weight almost kept me from joining the Air Force back in 1966. I had to drop about 30 pounds to make the weight limit. The funny thing here is that I found out that I could not have been drafted if I was found to be overweight. Unfortunately for me, the guy who told me this was giving me my physical at the Newark, New Jersey Armed Forces Entrance Station.
I can recall his remarks quite clearly. He told me that I weighed 249 and that this amount was over the limit for my height by four pounds. He said that he would waive the difference since I was enlisting. I then asked him if this meant that I could not have been drafted. He nodded his head, smiled a bit and then told me to move on to the next examination station. Son of a gun!
As you might imagine, being fat is not a problem which recently entered my life. Heck, I weighed 106 pounds during my first grade year at the West Freehold School. In my first grade class picture, I looked like a small fire hydrant with suspenders and a bow tie (yes, even then). I was always considered 'big for my age'. Funny, now that I am 63 years old, I am still a bit big for my age. Some things never seem to change.
Over the years my weight has managed to fluctuate more than the Dow Jones Stock average. During my time in Vietnam, I even managed to accomplish the exact opposite of what most other people did. While most people lost weight in country, I bulked up. Did you know that the U.S. Army Special Forces base in Nha Trang, Vietnam had both a pizza parlor and a Dairy Queen ®?
My friends, I arrived back in the United States quite the chubby, young lad indeed. As a matter of fact, years later, after I had lost quite a bit of weight, my mother confided in me that when I she saw me coming off of the plane at Kennedy Airport in New York, she turned to my Dad and said, "…what did they do to him over there, he is all swollen up?" Let me assure you that I am glad she did not tell me at the time. It was like the time that my buddies at the air base in Vietnam gave me a grey sweat shirt with a diamond on the back which contained the word 'Goodyear'.
My last Air Force duty station turned out to be a lucky turn of events for me. I was stationed at Blytheville Air Force Base in Arkansas. Through a fortunate set of circumstances, I was able to meet a really neat group of firemen in Memphis, Tennessee. At some point, they convinced me that I should consider trying to join the Memphis Fire Department after leaving the service.