Old Man Miller

The Bookman By The Bookman, 3rd May 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/clw93xez/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>True Stories

Real-life memory of the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962.

Old Man Miller and the hurricane.

As I drove my mind slipped back thirty years or more.
I had been a very young boy during the Cuban missile crisis, still in elementary school.
The main road that the school bus took was US #1 and for a couple weeks it was all but closed in rolling blockades to allow both sides of the four-lane to carry trucks and transports full of men and war materiel heading south to one of the ports that would be the jumping off point for a full scale invasion of Cuba.
Since the usual road was closed so much the county re-routed the bus along Riverside Drive, the road our house was on. Now if this had been even a few years later I would have known about the Old Man already having seen him in my travels. However I was still pretty little and didn’t get far from the yard yet.
Every weekday morning I’d climb on the bus and be driven up Riverside to school. Either the first or second morning I noticed something out in Mike’s Bay, almost a shack but not really substantial enough to be called that. More of a small roof-over or sunshade than anything, it sat atop an oyster bar that was no more than a finger of sand and shell sticking out into the water a hundred or so yards connected to the shore by a slim spit of sand.
This bar was no more than eight or ten inches high at flood tide and sometimes not that.
I asked my Dad about it one day when he was giving me a ride to school and he, a normally quiet man got even more reserved. We rode along for awhile before he started to speak.
“I’d wondered about that myself, several people in the area had.” He said slowly.
“It seems that a few went to the Constable whose house he is out in front of and asked him if he knew.”
“Constable Breen told them that the old man was named Miller, he had been a veteran in both the first and Second Wars, and never had married”.
Any time Dad spoke to World War Two you could hear the capital in his voice, he was not supposed to have survived his service. The atomic weapons had saved his life and he knew it.
“Now he has gotten old. He has outlived what family he had and has no one”, Dad went on taking his time, you could tell he wanted to get this just right
“Old Man Miller had hunted and fished this area as a boy, he came here when he had nowhere else to go, parked himself in front of the one man who he knew as a kid and intends to stay.”
“Constable Breen lets him winter in his garage and shelter there when the storms come but he says it is getting harder and harder to get the old man to take shelter. “

At his point we were about to turn off Riverside to the street where the school was, Dad pulled over to the grass, shut off the truck engine and turned to face me. He had never done anything like this before. Not with me anyway.

“Son, I want you to remember this. A man cannot always choose how he lives, who he lives with, or what he does for that living but if he is very lucky He can choose how he dies. We all die son, every one of us, me, your Mother, all of us.”

The look on his face was scaring me nearly to childish tears but then he smiled which was a rare enough thing by itself.
“Old Man Miller has chosen his end, I just hope that we can be that fortunate and the idiots in Washington and Moscow don’t make that decision for us.” dad said.

Twenty-five years later I learned what a near thing it had been.
The Cuban Soviet commander had fully ready missiles capable of reaching Washington and orders to fire if American troops invaded.
It is an understatement to say that it would have been the end of the world.

A year or two later Old Man Miller refused to come off the bar with a hurricane coming. Constable Breen got a couple of strong young local guys to go get him but since he could see them coming five minutes away it was a simple thing for him to jump into the bay and swim away in that choppy water.
No one went after him.
The Constable said for years after that he had seen Miller’s lamp out there after dark.
When the hurricane came thru, as usual in the wee hours of the morning, it was a bad one.
When daylight came Old Man Miller, the shack, and the oyster bar were gone.

Tags

1962, Cuban Missile Crisis, Hirricane, Memory

Meet the author

author avatar The Bookman
Over 40 years buying, selling, reviewing books. Worked for Newspapers, publishing companies, printing houses.
MANY differing interests, as will be covered here.

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