Buck and Maxine
My daddy, Elvin Eugene Buckingham (Buck) left this earth when I was fifteen years old. I remember the day I got that call from the Air Force. I've never cried so hard in my life before or since. All the airlines were on strike at that time, so I couldn't make the trip to Maryland for his funeral. I'm glad I couldn't. I want to remember my dad alive as I last saw him. I have missed my daddy everyday for the rest of my life.
Daddy was what they call "a lifer". He died a Sr. Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force. He served in World War II as a gunner-engineer on a B-17. He flew 32 missions over Germany. How he ever survived that is a miracle. His later years in the military took him all over the United States and Europe. He served as a Flight Training Instructor in France for many years. Many summers, when I would visit him, I would get a tour of these far-off places that I might otherwise never have seen.
Mother and Daddy divorced when I was a five-year-old toddler, but I still have very vivid memories of him. At the time, we were stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. I remember our house and my dog, Corky, a cocker-spaniel. The only time Daddy ever spanked me was when I disobeyed him after he told me not to run out in the road. Years later, when my 14th summer was spent visiting Daddy and his wife and stepchildren in Europe, I saw that same concern in his eyes after I rode the ferris wheel with some sleazy Algerian after Daddy had strictly lectured me about staying away from the men at the carnival and not to accept their money. Yet, he had no qualms about taking his three-year-old daughter to "joints" and buying her cokes, while he drank his beers. One day, after we had been out, I proudly announced to Mom that, "We've been to a joint and Daddy had this many (holding up five fingers) beers and I had this many (holding up three fingers) cokes!" I still remember learning how to swim in Salt Lake one summer. I remember the special way Daddy would know what was on my mind without a word being spoken. I remember getting drunk for the first time with my dad in the Officer's Lounge in France. And noticing that his "this many beers" habit had turned into a fifth of whiskey a day habit. Daddy loved the habit that eventually killed him. He was either too sensitive to the world around him or never developed the coping mechanism to deal with the world any other way. He died in a military hospital in Maryland when his pancreas gave out. He was 43.
I have outlived my dad by six years now. I've often thought how great it would be if he could have met his grandson (the resemblance is striking). If Buck were alive, he would be so proud of his grandson. Since I was Buck's only child, I would love to know if any of his relatives in Maryland are still living so that I might share his legacy with them. All the information I have on the family is sketchy, at best. If anyone stumbles upon this page and has any information on the Buckinghams of Baltimore or Westminster, Maryland, please email me. Thank you.
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