I got to pondering a few things of the Old Army that have disappeared over the years.
1. Payday- Yes, you still get paid, but in the Old Army, you didn’t have Direct Deposit. You showed up to the disbursing officer, and were paid in cash. Mind you, I joined the Army with Direct Deposit in place, but still had to do a “in person, cash” payday one time during basic training, just because they wanted us to see how it’s done. The impression I got was that it was a major pain to march halfway across Ft. Benning and back, just to pick up $50, while the rest of my pay was deposited in the normal manner. Today, you can’t even ship out to basic training without having your Direct Deposit set up.
2. Linen exchange- back in the old days, if you lived in the barracks, you used the Army’s sheets and blankets. Two plain white (unfitted) sheet, a plain white pillow case, and the ugliest bedspread in history, commonly referred to as the “disco blanket.”
Each week, you’d strip your sheets and pillow case, and turn them in to the company supply room, where you’d be issued a clean set straight from the post laundry. The disco blanket would usually be exchanged on a monthly basis.
3. Speaking of the post laundry… Quartermaster laundry. Each week, you’d deliver to your supply sergeant your laundry bag with up to 26 items, and a laundry list (on a pre-printed Army form, in triplicate, of course), and a few days later, fresh from the massive industrial washers of the post laundry, your uniforms would be returned. Socks, shorts, t-shirts and whatnot came back shrink wrapped in a bundle, but BDU trousers and blouses came back pressed and on cheap hangars. Of course, the QM laundry was infamous for breaking the plastic buttons when they pressed your uniforms, but that was a rather minor annoyance.
4. Ration cards- Do troops in Europe still get ration cards? Certain items back in the day were fairly cheap for US troops to buy in the PX, but vastly more expensive for their German counterparts. So US troops were rationed in the amounts of these items they could buy each month. A simple punch card was the method of counting how much you bought. As I recall, the items were gasoline (you could buy all you wanted for your own car on post, but only a certain number of coupons for discount gas for use at certain gas stations off post), hard alcohol, tobacco (Marlboros were very popular), sugar, and I’m not sure, but I think coffee.
5. Khaki uniforms- Sadly, the Army khaki uniform became obsolete about 3 weeks after I enlisted. Too bad. It was just about the sharpest uniform the Army ever had.
6. SQT- It used to be every Military Occupational Specialty had a written proficiency test for each skill level (Privates, Sergeants, Staff Sergeants, etc.). I really liked this, because I’m really good at standardized tests. Easy way to look good.
So, what do you miss from the Old Army (Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coasties, government, business, farm, etc…)?