When All the World Was Young
PG read When All the World Was Young, by Dr. Ferrol Sams. This is the last part of the Sambo trilogy, allegedly based on the life of Dr. Sams when he was younger. The first two books, in the trilogy, are Run With The Horsemen and The Whisper of the River.
The story starts at Pearl Harbor. Sambo wants to join the war effort, but is convinced to go to Medical School. At Emory Med School, he meets the toughest character in this war story, Dr. Wingo. Sambo makes it through the first year at Emory, but feels bad about not being in battle. This feeling of not doing enough for the cause persists throughout the story.
Soon, he gets word that a friend of his is missing in action. Sambo buys a pint of Four Roses, gets drunk, decides to flunk out of Med school, and join the army. He gets his wish, and goes to basic training in frozen Illinois. One of his companions is fellow former Emoroid Carter Otten, who will be with Sambo until they go to France.
The next stop is Lawton General Hospital. This is adjacent to Camp Gordon, which is now Peachtree Dekalb Airport. PG used to work off W. Hospital Avenue, and heard stories of a hospital there. One of the doctors had an apartment on Peachtree Road, near Hospital 48. (This was the Brookhaven VA hospital.) Sambo had a few adventures here, and encountered the first of a few “small world” stories. These pop up throughout the book, and make PG wonder if there might be too many coincidences.
A paratrooper named Will Barton shows up in the hospital. He had been kicked out of Medical School for throwing a cadaver muscle at another student. Another character at the Med school did Sambo wrong, and got his Yellow Packard messed up as a result. When Sambo is at Lawton General, a teacher winds up buying the Packard.
Sambo and Otten go to a camp in Illinois to wait on a trip to Europe. DDay comes, and the two sit and wait. It turns out the Army has forgotten about them. Otten finds a Hospital unit for the two to join, and soon they are on the Queen Mary, riding to France. When they finally arrive, the company records are lost at sea. At this point, an imaginary soldier named Daniel Farbecker joins the unit.
The troops set up a field hospital, and survive an inspection. Will Barton shows up again, in a dramatic episode. Sambo shows how far he has gone from the wide eyed farmboy of the first book. After the emergency surgery to save Barton fails, Sambo says “fuck him if he can’t take a joke”.
Before he leaves the war, Barton tells Sambo to go to Paris, find a hooker, and tell her what has happened. The girl is called “La Petite”. She may, or may not, have gone to college with Sambo. It is a good story, but sometimes it is a bit tough to believe.
Before long, Germany surrenders, Sambo has an affair with a married woman, Hiroshima is nuked, and Sambo goes home. He learned well the concept of looking out for number one. The guilt for not seeing more action never quite goes away. In the last chapter, Sambo is in Fort Bragg, fighting with the Army about service in the reserves.
As with the other two Sambo books, this is a great waste of time. Some of the stories, like the last day of Will Barton, are as good as reading gets. If you are not too picky about believing everything you read, you will have a good time with When All the World Was Young. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.