Subase Pearl Harbor Det 716 


Retired WW II Veteran Ernie Grossiant tells his story of his retirement years in his own words.

After retirement from his many long years as a milkman, I made an effort to see the states I had missed seeing while serving in the Army.  I bought a 27 foot motor home and a video camera and put my new bride to work running the video camera as we traveled.  Alaska and Hawaii were the last states on the list to visit.  We Left Texas in March of 1988 and did not return home to until October.  After a 16,000 mile tour of all fifty states we were glad to be finally home.  Neighbors saw us pull into our driveway and threw us a good old welcome home party that evening.  We had lots to talk about and shared many beautiful photos from our travels.  I was unhappy with my, made in Japan video camera; they should have made the microphone to capable of flipping forward while taping and flipped back when you explained what we were seeing. With the fixed microphone out front, it would pick up the engine noise and would drown out my quiet and soft spoken voice of my wife. 

When spring came, we got the motor home out of storage and headed for Key West, Florida. It was a 2,000 mile trip.  We were on our way to visit my wife’s adult children.  We spent a few days there and then headed north. I wanted to see the countryside in daylight. We traveled as close to the ocean as we could to view the beautiful Atlantic. Some of the bridges we crossed over were quite scary.  We ate lobster every place that we saw broiled lobster. We did not like boiled lobster. One place we visited had a picture of 26 pound lobster, but that was from a long time ago.

We arrived in Camp May, New Jersey and tried to procure a camp site on July first; we had to be out of there by the Fourth as it was reserved for someone else. So we got on the road again and couldn’t find a vacancy until North Bergen, it had several sites for $40 dollars a night; it was close to New York.  We left the motor home and paid for some tours of New York City. We saw a lot more with someone else doing the driving.  We also took an elevator to the top of the Empire State building.  We put some money in a telescope viewer and saw where we had all been the past 4 days.  Our next adventure was whale watching in Maine; I felt it was just another expensive gimmick. We ran out of land so we put the motor home on a ferry to New Brunswick, circled the Island and got to the tail end and took another ferry back to the St. Lawrence Seaway.  This is where ships start their long journey traveling all the way to the port of Duluth, Minnesota. It was a 2,700 mile inland journey by ferry for us and our motor home.  We went through all the Great Lakes, locks on dams, all the way to Duluth; once we got there we knew we only had 1,750 miles to travel back to our home in Texas.  The rest of the trip was easy; it was downhill to the Padre Islands and Alamo, Texas.  It was no sweat. We had another welcome home block party only 5 months after our last road trip.

We traveled many memorable miles with the motor home.  I took all the things that we bought on our trip out of our motor home. Took all the jacks, tools and wrenches as well that I thought I might need for unexpected breakdowns and tire changes.  We didn’t have to us any of the tools for the two long trips.  I put a for-sale sign on the dash of the motor home and started paying $15. a month for storage fees. 

There were no bridges to the state of Hawaii; it was the last of the 50 states for us to see. We called Your Man Tours; we saw several advertisements for them in magazines. We booked passage for two weeks and a four island tour of the Hawaiian Islands.  We would return home in December.  So after all passages were booked, I changed my socks and told my wife let’s do it.  Flying over to Hawaii wasn’t bad, we gained 4 hours going west; coming back East seemed to take forever. I was not impressed with Hawaii; there are not a lot of ways to make a living.  C&H Sugar had closed long before we got there; Dole Pineapple was also closed while we were there in 1995 and 1996. But after that trip, my mission was accomplished; I had visited all 50 States.

When I got back stateside to Texas, I was on the prowl for a new car.  I saw a beauty, an Olds Aurora.  I came home; a neighbor was visiting with my wife Vi.   She looked at me and asked, “Didn’t you find anything you liked?  I wanted to see if you liked it before I bought it.  She didn’t like the Olds Aurora; it didn’t have a hood ornament to guide you.  I told her that with this automobile when you look a half mile down the road, you better hang on.  There was a very powerful engine in that car. On another one of our trips I was able to take that car out for a spin on Indianapolis 500 speedway.  I wasn’t able to open her up though; there was a show in front of the grandstand.

My wife passed away in 2002 from cancer and I have been batching it ever since.  I listed my Texas home for sale in 2005; I never got a call.  I listed it again in 2006 and sold it in two days.  I loaded my car and headed back to Minnesota to be closer to my son and daughter.  I miss the warm weather of Texas and the many friends we met there. 

Ern, 94 and holding.

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