We Are Enjoying a Military Summer Tradition: Moving

Summer is PCS season, and even though my husband and I have long retired in the Albuquerque area, I usually get restless in June. As a military family, we moved 18 times in 20 years, and the Wanderlust just doesn’t go away. I find myself searching USAJobs, the federal employment website, to see where there are job openings I can apply for.

Several weeks ago, I came home to my adoring family, and asked, “Anyone want to move to Cheyenne?” The silence was deafening. “How about Guam?” Again, there were no takers. My family, apparently, has settled—permanently. It’s probably for the best—imaginary moving is much easier on the household goods than the real thing.

Years ago when we PCSed from Germany to Alabama, we found that movers had stacked heavy book boxes on our antique couch, causing it to collapse in a V shape. It never recovered, and we ended up throwing it away.

It could have been worse, as Air Force Brat William recalls, “When we left Greece, the Greek company the Air Force hired went bankrupt and opened the warehouse to their employees. We lost most of our household goods. It really hit me hard. We had about two-thirds of our furniture missing. The Air Force made good on the claim, but you can’t really put a price on all that childhood stuff I lost.”

Leslie, another Brat, agrees, “In the early 60s we were stationed in West Germany. Back then, they did not allow for much weight because the Army provided most furnishings. One day I came home from school and Mom was crying. The ‘fireproof’ storage in the States had burned down– all of our pictures, doll collection from Japan and Korea, and souvenirs from prior assignments—were gone. The government paid insurance of pennies on the dollar. While I realize they were just ‘things’ –for us, they were our history.”

Of course, every military family has a funny moving story or two—the packers shipping the trash or full diaper pail—or worse—in one case, raw fish that was being defrosted for dinner!

Most military family members can tell similar stories. Colleen remembers, “My sister had a birthday party the day before our move from Texas to Italy. When our crate arrived several months later, we found all the balloons, completely deflated, carefully wrapped in paper.

David says, “One mover tried packing my cat, thinking it was a stuffed animal because the cat had not moved from the couch the entire time the movers were there packing boxes. Boy did he get a surprise!”

There were near disasters as well. One man found his cat in the bottom right drawer of his desk when he got to Klamath, CA. He explains, “She was fine. A little confused, but it was only a two-day trip from McCord.”

Falena sums it up, “I loved the things I learned about moving in Brat life because I can move better than anyone I know without breakage or loss. That ‘change in latitude, change in attitude’ kind of lifestyle runs deep and long.”

It is somewhat like riding a bicycle—some skills are never lost. Even now, my packing skills are formidable—and a godsend.

The Museum of the American Military Family is relocating to Tijeras this month. It is, in military terms, a DITY move. I’ve managed to stuff my Explorer to the brim–somewhat like a Tetris puzzle–making sure nothing rattles around and everything arrives unbroken at its destination. Most of the board and volunteers are also military, and I know we will do much better than any commercial mover—we are the experts after all.

Starting July 9, come visit MAMF at its new location at 546 State Hwy 333 (Old 66) in Tijeras, NM, right next to Molly’s Bar. Call (505) 504-6830 for hours and more information.

On July 9, 2016 we will welcome you to our new home!

On July 9, 2016 we will welcome you to our new home!

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