August 27, 2007

My Cousin Frankie

As LGF calls it: A Lifelong Inspiration...

My Cousin Frankie:

It was the summer of 1965. The ferry was making its run from the dock in Patchogue across the bay to Davis Park. Kids were splashing around at Corey Beach, the Sandspit and Canaan Lake. And Billy Joe Royal was singing "Down in the Boondocks." Patchogue High School graduates were out and about, enjoying the sun, the waves and the sounds of the Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Four Seasons.

Frank Clark Fisher was one of those kids from Patchogue High School, where he had been a goalie on the varsity soccer team. He lived with his dad and mom on Wilmarth Street. He worked as a lifeguard with Brookhaven Town, and this summer was the last summer before he shipped off to Parris Island and the Marines.


Frank shipped out in October 1965 and was a member of Platoon 1010 on Parris Island in South Carolina. I wrote to him several times during those couple of months, and Frank wrote back. He graduated from boot camp that December, went on to infantry school and came out as a rifleman. He was soon off to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he served for six months with the security forces.

It was the summer of 1966 when Frank sailed from California, across the Pacific to Southeast Asia.


It was a hot afternoon in August 1967, during the "Summer of Love." The Young Rascals were "Groovin'," Strawberry Alarm Clock sang of "Incense and eppermints," while the Box Tops ranted about "The Letter." I entered the house, and another of my aunts was there. My mother was crying, and the smell of skunk cabbage on my muddy PF Flyers soon became less of a concern as I put my arm around my mother's neck and asked her what was wrong.

I recall her looking up at me as she sat in the kitchen chair. "Your cousin Frankie was killed in Vietnam." I just went numb. I didn't know how else to react.

I recall jumping the fence in the side yard and running into the woods across the street ... that same woods where I used to play while I was waiting for Frankie to walk by with his buddies and shout out to me to walk with them, me feeling like a big shot. And I cried and cried and cried.

Now, go read the whole thing....

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