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The draft was still on when I was a senior in Racine, Wis., at Horlick High School in 1946. I was age 18 while in school and was drafted into the Army, but the service let me finish high school.

I enlisted right after graduation in 1946 for three years in the Air Force. After basic training and schooling, about one and a half years, the service was one of the most enjoyable times of my life. Let me explain!

After engine and mechanic schooling in Biloxi, Miss., I was transferred to Chanute Field, Ill., for more training. Here's where it got interesting!

I enjoyed my off time (weekends) by hitching a ride to nearby Chicago. There I enjoyed live shows in downtown Chicago or baseball games of the White Sox or Cubs. In the evenings, I attended the Aragon Ballroom on Chicago's north side. I learned to dance there and enjoyed the Big Band music of many wonderful bands. There were plenty of ladies to enjoy dancing and socializing. I was always in uniform on these trips.

After my tour in Illinois, I was transferred to Kansas for my last one and a half years of service. I served as an instrument instructor on a B-29 mobile training unit in Salina and Topeka. I enjoyed my work and rose to the rank of S/Sgt. We were a small unit on TDY at these airbases and did not have to be involved with extra duty such as parades and drills. My weekends were free. Here, I did more dancing at the base NCO clubs and again met some fine ladies from nearby communities. I got to enjoy Big Band music and dancing.

After three years in the service, I was tempted to re-enlist but wanted to take advantage of schooling that the G.I. Bill offered. I attended the University of Wisconsin for four years and obtained a position with Texaco Inc. as a sales representative, which I enjoyed for 30 years.

I met my wife, LaVerne, dancing at the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1954. We were married for 64 years and had two fine children. LaVerne died in 2019 and left me with many, many wonderful memories.

The service gave me schooling, education, dancing, and my wonderful wife of 64 years!

Leonard Eisert

Bella Vista

Editorial on 05/13/2020

Print Headline: Dancing through WWII

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