Chapter One: "Raised in a Town That No Longer Exists"
By any other name, Phoebus was still a tough town. It did have another name, spoken only by the locals with a mixed measure of quiet pride and quieter concern: Little Chicago, because Phoebus sat at the end of the Chicago & Ohio Railroad, the old C&O, and if the Chicago end of the line could be tough, so could the Tidewater end. Phoebus hadn’t yet been engulfed by Newport News and Hampton, but its unique gentle hardness would one day disappear into the urban sprawl. You won’t find Phoebus on many maps today. It’s been swallowed by Hampton. But back then, there were still open fields and minor countryside on the north and west of Phoebus.
To the east and south was water, Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic. The biggest business in town was the Newcome Seafood Company. But the biggest employer was the federal government. Phoebus was neighbor with Forts Monroe and Eustis, with the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, with Norfolk Naval Base, and a veterans’ hospital, and most important in my life, with Langley Field, where the great journey really began. . . .