Tales My Father Told Me

Sometimes I Wish He Had Written Them Down

Robyn Sinead Sheppard
4 min readAug 1


I’ve written before about the trials and tribulations of growing up as a PK (Preacher’s Kid) and how it’s affected my choices in life. Most of the time it was okay, other times it kinda sucked, and on rare occasions, it was quite instructive.

Today I’m going to write about three of those occasions.

When I was 13, my father’s duties as an Air Force chaplain took him to a remote radar and missile site in Trabzon, Turkey, some 90 miles from the Russian border. This was shortly after President John F. Kennedy stared down Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev over the latter’s placement of missiles and radar in Cuba, some 90 miles from the US border.

I’ll pause now to give you some time to ponder the hypocrisy involved.

One of the cultural exchange programs involved trips to local businesses to see what life was like in Turkey.

One such trip was to a local mineral water bottling “plant,” which turned out to be a rusty pipe coming out of a rock face. This was surrounded on three sides by a low wall, about 4 feet high. Inside this “bottling plant” were 3 employees, a 2-wheeled cart, and a donkey. The floor was bare dirt.

The guide asked if anyone would like to try a sample of the water. A couple of brave if foolhardy volunteers accepted. The guide took a couple of bottles from a case in the cart, opened them, and handed them out.

After the men had finished drinking the water, the guide returned the bottles to the chief bottler, who immediately held them under the pipe from the rock to refill them, handed them to another man who put new cap on the bottles and returned them to the empty spaces in the cart.

Needless to say, when my dad recounted this tale to me, he made a point of mentioning that he had not participated in the “water tasting” ritual.

Another time, still in Turkey, he recounted the time he was sitting at the bar in the Officer’s Club (yes, my father did enjoy a cold beer from time to time) when a young lieutenant came in and sat down on the stool next to him.

My dad explained that this man was an atheist, and always engaged in good-natured teasing my dad about…



Robyn Sinead Sheppard

A happily retired technical writer, I write in order to understand what I'm thinking. I'm walking wounded from the Sexual Revolution.