Written by: Leo Lawton
When I returned from Argentia, Newfoundland to the United States, in July 1958 Patrol Squadron Eight (VP-8) had been permanently reassigned from Quonset Point, Rhode Island to Chincoteague, Virginia in relationship to a new task assignment for the squadron. During these “Cold War” times a new concept was being developed for coastal protection. VP-8 was assigned to Task Group Alpha for long-range Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) with a secondary task of Search and Rescue (SAR) duties. As such we were assigned a more central location along the east coast of the United States.
A first priority for me was to obtain a set of wheels for local transportation. I had barely stepped off of the MATS aircraft until I learned of a 1951 Ford for sale by John D. Taylor, a newcomer to the squadron while I was on deployment to Argentia. It was located in an off-base parking lot outside the main gate of the Chincoteague Naval Auxiliary Air Station. John told me the car was financed at a finance company in Salisbury, Maryland some 12 miles from the base. I was to pay him $400 for the car which he would then go pay it off and sign it over to me. I gave him the money which he promptly used to go AWOL with. Later he was returned to our station to await Courts Martial for being AWOL. While there he signed a paper stating he would return my money, which he never did. He also collected his back pay and used it to go AWOL for a second time. I never heard any more of him.
I went on leave to visit my parents and while there my brother Ron offered to sell me a 1951 Studebaker business coupe that he owned. Earlier in the year he had bought a brand new 1958 Edsel. He had owned it but a short while until one night he was on his way to work when he hit a horse with it. The horse had to be destroyed, but the Edsel was repairable. However, parts were not readily available for it, so Ron had bought the Studebaker to drive while awaiting the Edsel repair. By this time the Edsel was on the road again, and I purchased the Studebaker.
I also met my future wife working in the local J. J. Newberry 5 and 10 cent store. I have always said since then that I found her in a five and dime. Nearly every weekend from then until December I made that 750 mile, each way, trip from Chincoteague to northern New York. That December 20, 1958 we were married, and we stuck with each other until her decease April 19, 2016.