Senior Memoirs - Stan Levin's Memoir-"Something in Common"
SOMETHING IN COMMON by Stan Levin
Something in common is a mutual interest, or interests, we have with an individual, or group, that creates a “feel good” bond with others. We are all sociable to a degree, some of us more introverted, some more gregarious, some in between the two extremes of our needs, quirks and personalities.
The best example of “something in common” is exemplified by young children. Little boys all seem to love the same toys. They don’t have to know each other, just throw them together in a room and watch them play as if they were Siamese twins. Especially favored by all little boys are imitation cars, any item for building a simulated structure which could be blocks, erector sets, etc. AND most especially any item that makes noise; humming, hissing, clanging, or banging. Place two or more little boys together and witness the condition of “something in common” at its best.
Whereas, little girls all love playing with dolls. They love applying make-up and nail polish, dressing up with frilly clothes, wearing their mother’s shoes or any item to make them feel grown up females. At this age it could be said they are at the peak of their femininity. Place two or more little girls together and witness the condition of “something in common” at its best.
As an adult the nth degree condition of “something in common” for me was to be found in army service. I was drafted into the army at the tender age of twenty. As many other young men I came from a warm home, a loving family, and a relatively, safe, protected existence. Up until that time I enjoyed having “something in common with my many friends” either on the basketball court, in the poolroom, or hanging out on the street corner acting important in our narrow worlds.
AND THEN, in the army I was “thrown in” with the O’Hara’s. the O’Neill’s,the McManus’s, the Monahan’s, McLaughlin’s, the Fitzgerald’s, the Izzo”s, the Colantonio’s, the Picetti’s, the Iacona’s, the Villano’s, the Lessig’s, and so on ethnically. AND, there I was with a name like LEVIN. It was as though I was in either the Italian army or Irish Republican army. BUT, we all had “something in common”. We all had the same anxieties regarding the unknown. How would we react to rigid discipline? How would we react to intense physical training as we were facing sixteen weeks of infantry training? How would we react to training in harsh winter conditions with no one to care for us and “lick our wounds”? I use that as a figure of speech as eventually the wounds could become real when we would be shipped to serve in the Korean War.
It is still fascinating to me how quickly we became closer to each other than with our family. Almost instantly we all developed the same sense of humor when a fellow soldier made a mistake, or screwed up. We had a sadistic sense of humor when a soldier to be would then be facing embarrassing, or harsh, punishment for screwing up. The drill sergeants made sure every potential soldier screwed up, according to them. We were considered only as recruits. None of us escaped being disciplined. As we learned proficiencies in firing and cleaning all the lethal infantry weapons, to throwing live hand grenades, etc., instinctively we all became aware of our vulnerability to survival. As the weeks in training progressed we were becoming whipped into shape, army style, the fat guys became lean and hard physically, the skinny guys became all muscle. Although there were two hundred of us in our training company we were becoming like one, with intense pride in ourselves, individually and as a unit.
We were “something in common” personified. For my entire two years of service we shared such camaraderie.
Oddly enough, or typically, upon discharge that special “something in common” naturally disappeared when returning to our civilian lives. But, it was there for that special two years of our commonality.
The nickname given to me by my former Italian and Irish comrades still gives me a warm feeling of acceptance when I think of it, that of HHH---hot headed Hebrew.