File puptcrit/puptcrit.0803, message 407

Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2008 07:15:36 -0400
To: <>
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] military memories

And thank you, Alan, for the story of how crazy our military can be at
times! Puppets can work miracles.

Mary H. 

On 3/25/08 11:45 PM, "Alan Cook" <> wrote:

> I served in 3 different armies: the 3rd, 4th & 5th. As a result, the oxymoron
> of "military intelligence made an impression on me three times over.
> While at Ft Leonard Wood, MO, among other things, I worked in the
> neuropsychiatric ward (where I met some of the most intersting people in
> uniform) and the stockade ward---both were locked wards, and we carried BIG
> keys, just like the wardens in old prison movies.
> Earlier experience as a babystter proved to be helpful.
> Two weeks before I was assigned to work the NP (nut) ward the head nurse there
> went off her rocker and became a patient in another facility, so I never met
> her nor found out what the problem was. I still wonder though.
> I decided not to worry about my own sanity while working there.
> One day we got a new patient, fresh out of the first week of basic training.
> He was sent to us because he just laughed when Sergeants or officers yelled at
> him, so they figured he was nuts and we got him.
> The first day on the ward he found to be interesting. He smiled a lot.
> The second day was a repeat of the first and he smiled less.
> The third day was more of the dreary sameness, and he was depressed. You could
> almost SEE a dark gray cloud hanging over his head. Curiouly, HIS depression
> proved contagious to the other patients.
> We had a problem.
> The previous weekend I had found a cheap oldstyle "made in Japan" Teddy Bear
> hand puppet in a St Louis, MO ten cent store (yes, it WAS a long time ago when
> there still were ten cent stores and puppeteers visited them for all sorts of
> useful purchases)
> I left the ward, got the hand puppet from my foot locker in the barracks which
> was close by. Back in the ward, I had the Teddy Bear peek around a corner and
> wave at our new patient. The dark cloud of gray vanished instantly.
> Next thing you knew, patients took turns playing with the bear. One in
> particular had the bear doing obscene acts with a door frame. Whatever works!
> The gloom was gone.
> We found out later that the patient was not nuts. He did not speak English and
> had no idea what people were yelling at him. It took two (TWO-count them-TWO)
> translators to unravel his story. He spoke a blend of Russian and Polish, he
> originally came from a small Polish town where the boundary line shifted in
> his lifetime. That's why it took a speaker of Polish and a speaker of Russian
> to garner his tale. The mystery is WHO filled out his draft Board papers and
> got him to Ft Leonard Wood in the first place, and who filled in all the other
> forms once he got there.
> Earlier when I went through basic training at Ft Ord, CA we had a guy in our
> group who arrived on crutches. Oh the wonder of it all!
> At Ft Leonard Wood, one of my commanding officers told me "You're no soldier
> but you are intelligent" and I thanked him for both compliments.
> I still have that Teddy Bear in my puppet collection because I think he has an
> interesting history to tell.
> I had not told that story for a long time. Thank you Mathieu, for reminding
> me.
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