SMITH COLLEGE NEVER TAUGHT ME TO SALUTE by Ann Combs

SMITH COLLEGE NEVER TAUGHT ME TO SALUTE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A mild--very mild--coffee-cup-by-diaper-pail account of life as an Air Force wife on a Texas base in the late Fifties. Then, a pre-WW II manual titled The Air Force Wife instructed the bride: ""After dinner, never ask your husband to help with the dishes. He has been working for the government all day."" But Ann decided she had not married the Prince of Wales, and muddled on in her own, less self-sacrificing fashion--though husband Joe had moments of wistfulness. The Combses moved here and there on the base at Wichita Falls--where winds screamed and ""it was like living in the propwash of a departing helicopter."" After explaining how the base was laid out (the brass drew grids and wrote ""north"" at the top of the page), Combs describes the buildings proper: ""long, low, wooden and the color of evaporated milk."" The pleasures and perils of life at the base include: the base exchange where pork chops with mold cannot be returned for refund until examined by a vet (he's away on leave, of course); make-do entertainments--sometimes featuring wedding movies run backward to watch Joe spit up the wedding cake; a ragtag arrival, on vacation, at a formal, disapproving restaurant (where Ann finds herself ""chewing as if I had dynamite caps in my fillings""). And there are two races to the maternity hospital with rattled Joe raging at a non-saluting sentry and seemingly unable to park. Titters rather than chuckles--and chiefly for old base hands.

Pub Date: March 25th, 1981
Publisher: Harper & Row