Are you still on the fence about Nighthawk? Well, I understand, so for the next three months I will be offering free chapter excerpts. My goal is to show you that there is something for everybody. Packed with nostalgia from the eighties, adventures (and misadventures) of a boy trying to navigate the world around him, and how bonds of brothers are formed. Oh, and there is a tiny little love story that will melt your heart ladies.
Enas Reviews said that Nighthawk
…is an ebullient memoir of an Airman’s tour.A read that will be appreciated by the general audience and make them wince and smile, ‘Nighthawk – A Young Airman’s Tour at Clark Air Base’ is a first-rate air force based memoir.
Author Bill Bowers gives out anecdotes of his growing up years amongst family like neighborhood in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania and provides a microscopic view of a young boys family morals where discipline started at home with unconditional love for one another, eager to take up responsibility and stand by the family and parents while growing up, author chose ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) during his senior years.
So, come down from the fence and jump into a book that I think will surprise you.
Chapter 1 All American Kid
Back then, most American neighborhoods didn’t rely on the police to prevent kids from getting into trouble; that was the job of your parents and your neighbors. It was a simpler time when respect was taught in the home and parents never tolerated excuses. You were taught to take responsibility for your actions and that nothing was handed to you. Money was always tight, but that was never a discussion with kids and we never expected things unless they were a necessity.
The big holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July were spent with the entire family including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Stores were closed on those holidays and you were always expected to be on your best behavior. Parents could spank their children and they never fought their children’s battles at school or on the playing field. Nothing was ever handed to you; it needed to be earned. As kids, we were not coddled; we were taught independence. There was nothing wrong with walking to the park alone. There was nothing wrong with sending a child to bed without dinner as punishment. Parents weren’t their kids’ best friends; they were parents. I didn’t grow up in the Norman Rockwell version of a family, but it was my version of family.
I was one of four children born to my parents, James and Florence. Third in line behind my brother James, sister Carolyn and four years ahead of the youngest of the family, Sean. My father was a reliable, hardworking man repairing copy machines for A.B. Dick. Not like the copiers and printers today, he worked on the old-school mimeograph machines. Those machines required typing or drawing on special 3-layered sheets that were then put in a machine on a rotating drum that pressed ink through it. Back in the day, kids would immediately bring fresh copies to their nose and sniff. Not for a buzz; simply for the smell. For my dad, working with those machines all the time cost him his sense of smell.
My mother was the quintessential American mom of the seventies and eighties. She stayed at home to make sure the house was clean and that our bellies were full. However, she had one extremely daunting task. She shared that responsibility with all the other moms in the neighborhood. Whenever my mom reminisces about me growing up, her memories are often about how all the kids in the neighborhood would knock on our door and asked my mom, “Is Billy grounded?” If the kids came looking for Jim, Carolyn or Sean, she never had that problem.
Once we were old enough to be home alone for a couple of hours without my mom having to worry about us killing each other, she started a part-time job waitressing at the Falcon House dinner theatre in Havertown. We knew better than to cause trouble because there would be consequences. We all had chores and there were no excuses if a job was not done.
My parents wanted their children to leave home with three things: a deep love for God, integrity, and a strong work ethic. If we wanted something; we needed to work hard to get it. We were encouraged to take part-time jobs to learn how to manage money and experience life in the real world. Once we were old enough, my brother Jimmy and I also started working at the Falcon House.
One of my favorite memories from childhood was dinner time. My mom made sure that a hearty meal was on the table every night. As soon as it was close to being ready, she sent one of us up to the D&R Tavern to fetch my father. He was usually sitting at the bar with all the other fathers in the neighborhood having a cold beer after a hard day’s work. We would fight to be the one to go get dad because we knew he would buy us a soda and let us play a video game or two before he finished his beer. Once he was done, we hopped in the car and headed home.
Looking back, I couldn’t have asked for better parents if I was given the choice before birth. My parents spent their summers at Dermond Field coaching our baseball and softball teams. For more than eighteen years, my parents never missed a game. There was never a doubt growing up that my parents loved their children. I feel fortunate to this day because, in their mid-seventies, they can still be found on Sunday mornings at my baseball games.
Forty years ago, the last helicopters lifted off from the US embassy in Saigon as the Vietnam War came to an end, Jimmy Carter became the president, odd/even days at the gas stations were getting old; but at least someone else pumped the gas for you. Kids looked forward to Saturday morning cartoons, and the entire nation was celebrating the Bicentennial. It was a time when people spoke their minds; kids roamed the streets, moms made dinner every night and neighbors talked to each other. Nowadays kids don’t talk, they text. They don’t play ball in the streets they play Madden on Xbox. They aren’t allowed to travel anywhere by themselves. Hell, they can’t even walk down the street without an armed guard and a cell phone.
As for me, I was a kid trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do with the rest of my life. My summers were packed from dawn to dusk with neighborhood kids playing stickball. We were resilient and resourceful using side view mirrors on a car for first and third base. We were creative and early recyclers. Second base, the pitching mound, and home plate were made from of flattened soda or beer cans we found lying in the street. If we got tired of stickball, there was always street hockey, touch football, run-the-bases and whiffle ball. I would venture to guess that there are still whiffle balls resting comfortably on rooftops today.