Rebecca West: Words & Music


by Bob West

Another important change in our lives while we were in Altus had to do with church. I told what happened from my point of view in an earlier blog . Now I will tell what happened from Sylvia's point of view. (Note: During the last year of her terminal illness Sylvia recorded some memories of her life in a journal for me to share.)

"When we moved to Altus, Bob went back to the Church of Christ. I attended the Methodist Church across the street. I left Suzanne in the nursery while I sang in the choir. Bob and I had a lot of religious controversy between us. I finally became convinced by reading tracts and reading the Bible that I should confess Jesus as my Lord and Savior and be baptized to wash away my sins. I asked the Methodist preacher to baptize me -- to immerse me in water. He said they didn't do that.

"I prayed and prayed and prayed. God showed me that I could be sure and I could have His joy -- just like the Ethiopian eunuch (in the book of Acts) who went on his way rejoicing after he was baptized. So I walked down the aisle during the Wednesday night Bible study at the Church of Christ and asked the preacher to baptize me. He did. And I knew that God had really cleansed me from all unrighteousness.

"I was excited about my new relationship with God and I wanted everyone to know about how to be saved. So I wrote to everyone in my family and to all my friends and the next thing I knew -- some of these people were not talking to us anymore! And some returned letters unopened! I learned that others have to learn step by step from God just as I had to. I'm not their God." (From Sylvia's journal)

Here is another episode of my "Ruff and Reddy" comic strip, which appeared regularly in the local Altus Times-Democrat newspaper. This one ran in the April 8, 1955 issue. Jet aircraft were being reassigned to Altus AFB later in the month. I was asked to write and draw an episode that would prepare the people and help them feel okay about the noise that will come with the jets.

Ruff and Reddy cartoon title
Ruff and Reddy cartoon

When I was released from active duty on October 1, 1955, we moved to Boston where I would attend the New England School of Art. On the way we stopped in Lakewood, Rhode Island, to visit Sylvia's sister Trudy and her family. Suzanne had her first birthday while we were there and this photo of her and Sylvia was taken.

Sylvia and Suzanne 1955

I was still in the Air Force Reserves. My formal art training in Boston would count toward my Primary Air Force Specialty and skill level (22371) along with courses I would take by correspondence and my two weeks of active reserve training each year. I don't remember the date I was promoted to Tech Sergeant, but I was promoted to Master Sergeant on January 23, 1959. On October 1, 1959, I received an Honorable Discharge.

In an earlier blog, "Miracle at Watertown Square," I told about our experience in the Boston area.

After that I told a little about our 22 years in Orlando, but there is more to tell and more to show.

< Previous | Next >