A Trip To The PX

Christmas Gifts 1967

Since joining the Marines I had always gone to a military barber shop for a haircut.  Usually I had it cut just long enough to comb or what was referred to as a crew cut.  I knew the training and subsequent duty in Vietnam would require shorter hair.  Jenny and I went to the El Toro PX complex to shop and for me to get a “high and tight” cut.

The base PX was limited, but the prices were good.  There was a jewelry section and a small kiosk of women’s fragrances.  Some clothing and accessories were available but not the more up-to-date styles that were for sale at Fashion Island in Newport Beach.

I was looking for a non-reflective diver’s watch with fluorescent numbers on the dial.  I found a nice Timex, and Jenny purchased it as my Christmas present.  She also found a pack of small monthly metal calendars that would clip onto the watchband.  The watch was a wind-up, had no batteries and was waterproof to 100 ft.

Jenny was hovering over the perfume display and was intrigued with a fragrance named TABU.  I wasn’t sure if it was the perfume itself or the implication of the brand name, but she wanted it.  This was her Christmas gift from me.

We went to the dispersing office to get my pay and make arrangements for an “allotment” check to be mailed to Jenny each month.  I would receive $20 cash per month, and the remainder would be sent to her.  Considering the addition of combat and hazardous duty pay (all tax free), Jenny would have no trouble financially at Fresno State.

There was a dry cleaners just outside the base, and we stopped there to close my account.  The owner was a shrewd businessman and would give credit to Marines as long as they paid monthly.  Some Marines would leave for Vietnam and skip out on their final bill, figuring they would never come back to El Toro . . . this was not my style, and we parted ways on good terms.

All of the loose ends were now taken care of, and we headed home for our last day together before I reported in for duty at Camp Pendleton.  I remember looking back at the main gate of El Toro in the rearview mirror.  It had been a good duty station.

Next Edition:  Reporting for Duty

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