It was a cold winter on the US Army reservation at Fort Riley, Kansas that Sunday night, January 10, 1937. Tonight Sergeant William Crismon will take JoAnn (8), Bill (7), Bob (6), and Mary (4) to the post hospital to see their new baby brother for the first time. Pop bundled us all up in the 1936 Ford sedan. JoAnn just naturally assumed the "Mother" role. Therefore, she sat in the front seat with Pop and the remaining three of us huddled together under an army OD blanket Pop had placed in the back seat. Although a light snow was falling, the streets were clear but wet. With no available parking space close to the hospital front door, we were all cold by the time we walked into the warm hospital waiting room. Soon we were escorted by a nurse to Mother's room. We don't know if Bessie was given a private room because of Pop's rank or did all maternity patients back then have a private room?
Mother was propped up with pillows so she could see us kids and Pop. In her arms was three day old Frederick Hugh Crismon. We ganged around Mother and "Freddy", each taking a turn to touch the baby's cheek or hands. After a short while, as normal with most young children, we began to mill around the room inspecting never seen before items such as a bed pan. Scientifically minded Bill asked Mother what it was used for and she ignored him. Bessie was a modest woman and rarely discussed such personal matters. I noticed as I walked around the room the little baby's dark eyes seemed to follow me wherever I went. Gosh, a room full of people and Baby Freddy was looking at me! Of course, most will reason a three day old child probably couldn't see objects much farther away than his own little hands. But, just don't try to tell me that; he was looking at me! This began a close and strong bond between two brothers that continues today. We even live next door to each other.
Fast forward to 1947, Freddy is ten years old, Pop has retired from the Army and we live in San Antonio. We have another little brother, David, who is four years old. Mother is working outside the home. Pop's full time job is remodeling and adding to our small house. His biggest chore however is to raise Freddy and David. Pop said David was easy - Freddy was always a challenge. Pop said about Freddy many times, "He's just too smart for me. He can also out run me!" Never the less, Pop's character building success is evident in both brothers today.
The year is 1951, Freddy is 14. Brother Bob wanted to give Freddy a Cushman motor scooter. Pop says, "No, sell it to him for $50 and tell him he must pay you one dollar per week." Freddy eagerly accepts the obligation and Pop had him pegged right; Freddy paid one dollar per week until the debt was cleared. Freddy washed windshields at the local drive in theatre for $1.00 per night. That is until his Boss's car came by. After that you would find Freddy up front in the seating area with a pretty girl under each arm. Pop's wisdom taught Freddy a good lesson that has stayed with him throughout his life. However, the scooter did bring about other problems. Like once when a police officer escorted him home and informed Pop that Freddy had three additional riders on the scooter that was designed to carry only one passenger. Another time Freddy asked Bob how can he make the exhaust more louder - sound more like a motorcycle. A hole was cut in the muffler. Freddy was pleased as he roared down the street. However he wasn't quite so happy when within several minutes he was escorted back to the house by the same police officer. Freddy paid the excessive noise fine and learned another lesson. After awhile of tearing about town, the tires of the scooter were worn out. Freddy had no money - what's a young guy to do? He certainly can't be without wheels! It just so happened the city owned street sweeper had the same size tires and rims. It was conveniently left parked on the street every night. I wonder how long it was before the sweeper operator realized that his tires were suddenly completely worn out overnight?
At the age of sixteen Fred passed his Texas drivers license test and sold his scooter. He now had $100 to purchase his first car! With Pop in tow Fred decided on a 1940 Ford coupe sitting on a used car lot not far from home. The elderly car lot owner wanted more money than Fred had and suggested that the $100 be augmented with a modest payment plan that would involve Pop's guarantee. Pop explained he wanted the deal to be between the man and Fred, as part of Fred's character building experience. The man and Pop haggled awhile and the man asked Fred, "Young man, just what do you intend to do with this car?" Without a blink Fred looked him right in the eye and said, "I'm going to tear the hell out of it!" The man and Pop both got a good laugh out of that response. The smiling man said to Fred, "You are an honest young fellow, I'll sell you the car." The 1940 Ford had a column gear shift. Innovative Fred found that if he switched the column over to left hand shifting, that would free up his right arm to hug his "Sweetie" of the evening. Oh yes, there was an abundance of pretty girls interested in Fred. One evening while cruising around with a young lady, Fred's free roaming hand got him so excited that instead of shifting into second gear he hit the reverse gear. In the back yard under a shade tree Fred then learned how to completely disassemble and repair a transmission.
At the age of 18 Fred joined the US Navy and served in the Far East. But that's another story. Now about the nick name, "Freddy Bump"? We have no idea - it's a name Pop gave to Fred at a very early age.