By Frederick R. Bedell Jr.,
Grand Knight of St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus Council #5911
Two days before Christmas in 1973, it was cold and beginning to snow when I set out from Great Lakes Illinois at 6 a.m. to get home to see my boys on Long Island. I was in the U.S. Navy then. My boys, Tommy and Bobby, were in a foster home in Levittown because my wife had left us. I was in the Navy and had not enough money to fly home. I had always kept my promise to my boys and didn’t want to disappoint them. Roger, a naval buddy, had a car and could take me as far as Ohio. I could get a Greyhound bus there, which would cost less.
The roads were starting to get icy. All of a sudden Roger’s car skidded and hit the back of a truck. We were lucky, though, and escaped unhurt. Now I had to hitchhike. As I was hitchhiking, I recalled a poem by Robert Frost which went as follows, ” The woods were lovely dark and deep, but I had promises to keep and many miles to go before I could sleep.” Which I really had to do. I was fifty miles from Indianapolis. Seeing me in my dress blues, a man picked me up and said he never picked up hitchhikers, but it was Christmas and felt he should drop me off in front of a ramp going into Indianapolis. Just then another man driving a snowplow spotted me and told me to jump aboard and he would give me a ride to the beginning of Indianapolis. He told me the bus station was about a mile away. I thanked him a wished him a Merry Christmas. I was walking with my seabag over my shoulders in about six inches of snow, when a young couple saw me offer me a ride to the bus station and when I got out, I also wished them a Merry Christmas.
The station was crammed with many homebound soldiers and sailors. There were more people than buses. I struck up a conversation with a young woman who was going home to see her daughter. Greyhound had a plan where couples could go first, and we took them up on that and said we were a couple. I finally got to the Port Authority in Manhattan at 7 a.m., Christmas Eve. I then got on a F train subway and took a bus to Queens Village, where my ex-father-in-law named Charlie and my ex-mother-law named Barbra who was suffering from cancer welcome me with open arms.
We had breakfast and decided to pick up my boys in a foster home. I rang the doorbell and the oldest which was Tommy saw me first and said to his little brother Bobby that new daddy was here. This he said to show the difference between me and their foster parents. Later that night we all had dinner in Queens Village and afterward I open my seabag and gave the boys their toys and told them Santa Claus gave the toys to me to give to them when I was at the North Pole. At that they both jumped on me and told me they loved me. That truly was a Christmas to remember. Now let me say to all our brave men and women serving our country, may God see to it that they get home safely.