Chanute Field Page 1
After completing basic training, I was sent home for a short visit and then assigned to aircraft mechanics school at Chanute Field, near Rantoul, Illinois. The history of Chanute Field is covered thoroughly on the Internet.
On arriving at Chanute Field, right out of basic training, I learned that airmen could own an auto. Having owned a Model A Ford from age 12 to 18, getting a Model A was like finding an old security blanket.
There was a 1930 Tudor Ford for sale by a private owner in Champagne, Ill. It had new paint and at $200 fit my idea of what I could afford. In a year without a Model A, I had forgotten how much shake, rattle, and knock could come from good basic transportation. The Model A was soon replaced by a 36 Chevy 2 Door that I got tired of in about two months. A trip to Chicago, 90 miles north of Chanute Field, turned up a 41 Buick Two Door, but a 42 Buick Super Four Door in Champaign was selected because it floated over the bumps so smoothly that I couldn't resist. Going against what my parents preached to me for years, I financed $650 at $65 per month. The payment kept me broke for the next year and a half. The '42 Buick made a Buick lover of me and I have owned several, currently driving a '91 PA Ultra.
Writing about Chanute (and Travis later on) requires two phases, one to cover the business side--training and AF experiences, the second to cover the off base or personal side. The two lives of an airman seem to be unrelated and have very little overlap.
Having a car in the Air Force greatly enhanced my social life. There was always a carload of guys who would pay for gasoline to get a ride to the nearest city. Frequent trips were made to the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign, 9 miles from Chanute. Mostly the roller skating rink at Urbana attracted me.
Several trips were made to Chicago. Servicemen, bums and needy were given low cost lodging at places supported by religious groups. One dollar would pay for a bunk for the night and donut for breakfast, provided you stayed long enough for a short prayer meeting. I usually had enough money from the riders to buy gas and to exist for the weekend. The Chicago museum was free. Saturday and Sunday evening I went to the Roller Drome, the largest skating rink under one roof. Live organ music erupted from an organ on the second floor in a glassed in room, visible from the rink. Years after my military