When Fred Nelson, John Molinaro, and I arrived at Laredo Army Air Field, the installation was still under construction. There weren't any runways, and all operations were conducted on the parking ramp.
Living conditions at Laredo were austere. Fred, John, and I were lucky enough to be assigned to one of the just-completed officers' quarters. We had individual although spartanly equipped rooms, each with an unpainted clothes closet, a table and chair, and a small metal bed. Lighting was furnished by a single, glaring electric bulb hanging from one of the rafters. A latrine and shower were located in the central section of the building.
Laredo, a typical Texas border town on the Rio Grande, offered little in the way of social activity. Fortunately, its sister city -- Nuevo Laredo, across the river in Mexico -- was alive with all manner of commercial activity. There were several nightclubs and plenty of bars and restaurants.
Artisans in precious stones, jewelry, silver, and leather plied their trades in several shops. Those working in leather were especially skilled, and their prices were reasonable. I had one of the shoemakers custom-make all my shoes and flight boots.
The pilots' favorite watering hole and restaurant was the Cadillac Bar, located a block off the main drag. Most evenings after flying we'd assemble there around a massive round table. We formed an informal organization called the Boots and Riding Crop Club. All that was required to partake of the club's benefits was presence at the round table and the ante of a two-dollar bill. Anybody at the table could order as many as desired of any drink. When the money was gone,