My name was Jennifer…for four days.

Back in the early 70’s we were stationed in Greece and I was going through some scrapbooks when I came upon my birth announcement from the first week of March in 1965. It was printed on the fourth or fifth if memory serves and the last line stated no name had been decided upon as of that printing. I asked my dad about it and he gave a chuckle and proceeded to tell me the proverbial “Que Pasa” as we would say in my family. Mom is Puerto Rican, so we used a lot of Spanglish slang.

I was born March 1, 1965 on Altus AFB, Oklahoma.  Back then, many folks did not have the luxury to know what was coming on the big day (a boy or a girl for those scratching their heads). Per protocols of the day, the expectant mothers would be shuttled down the hall to a delivery room while the fathers would hang out in a a waiting room to talk about the insufferable waiting, what they did on base, and so forth. On this day, there were two mothers in labor at the at same time; my Mom and a lady just across the hall from her. I was taking my sweet time coming into the world and according to Mom, they not only had to induce labor because I was overdue, I believe the attending even extended my first and only bribe in an attempt to get me to leave the confines of the womb.

Across the hall, a mighty struggle was taking place. The neighbor (as I will call her since the family name escapes me) was in the throes of bringing her child into the world. Within minutes, a healthy baby girl was delivered. One of the nurses rushes out of the delivery room to tell the waiting father of his new child, but in the confusion, she rushes up to one Thomas F. Noble, Sgt, one each and congratulates him on his baby girl.  Dad had been hoping for a girl and he had already picked a name out; Jennifer. He was quite pleased with his gamble of considering girls names only had paid off…for about five minutes because (you guessed) I decide to make my debut. The nurse proceeds to the waiting room where she finds my dad getting a handshake and a backslap from the other father. “Um, Mr. Noble?” Dad looks at her quizzically and says; “Yeah?” “Congratulations, you have a son,” she replied. Fortunately, my dad was a seasoned veteran by this time in his career and he understood the propensity for communications lines to go all FUBAR at the drop of a hat, so he took a breath, walked down the the nurse’s station and proceeded to clear things up quick, fast, and in a hurry. After the dust had cleared  and apologies extended, the family situations were straightened out. “Jennifer” (as I will call her) to her folks and me (the other Jennifer) to my happy, yet perplexed parents.

Nine years later, I find myself playing on a rope swing with friends in (off) base housing at Warner Robins AFB, Georgia. It was summer and during that time, we were pretty used to either meeting the new kids or being the new kids since the Air Force actually tried to make transitions a bit easier on families. As we were taking our turns, a girl about nine years old approached.  Being a brat, she wasn’t timid, she just kind of showed up to at first watch, assess the situation, and eventually take part in the activities. Again, this has been a very long time, so her name escapes me, but the conversation centered around the usual Brat things; “Where did you PCS from? What shop is your dad in?  What grade are you going to be in? “Fourth grade? Me too!” is what I remember saying which followed with where were you born? “Altus, Oklahoma,” she said. “On base,” I replied. “Yep” “When?” I pressed. “1 March 1965,” she shot back with a bit of intrigue in her tone. “Um, me too,” I said.  Her eyes widened and she grinned; “So you’re the one?” I nodded my head and we both started laughing because her folks had told her of the confusion on our birthday as well. I asked her name and even though I cannot recall it, it definitely was not Jennifer. I told her mine and the only interesting part about my name was it took about four days to figure it out since dad had no plan B if a boy showed up.

So basically, he called me Jennifer for about four days until mom took him to task about coming up with a name. There you have it, I was Jennifer for about four days and no worse for the wear I suppose. As for my classmate and I, fourth grade came and went and the next summer, my family was on our way to Germany and “Jennifer” was doing what other brats did; hanging around the rope swing in housing and waiting for the next new kid to show up.