If you talk to 87-year-old Blanket resident Bob Hickey very long, you see a hint of a mischievous twinkle as the stories roll out of him. His wife of 61 years, Myrna Jayne Fuller Hickey, fills in a blank here and there on the rare moments Hickey forgets a detail.
The stories about his experience as a World War II combat soldier. The "Dear John" letter from his fiance after the war. Reuniting with his two brothers in Korea during the Korean War. Going on to meet, and marry, "the cutest carhop in Texas." His long career working for the federal government and the many states in which the Hickey family lived.
There is a serious side to Hickey as he describes seeing fellow soldiers lose their lives during World War II. Hickey has written several letters on political and social topics that have been published in the Bulletin.
Bob and Jayne Hickey visited the Bulletin recently, where they displayed a collection of photos and talked about their lives together. Jayne Hickey said her husband has had "a very unusual life."
"I had never traveled till I got married," Jayne Hickey said. "We packed a lot of times. It was fantastic. It was an adventure."
"It's been good," Bob Hickey said.
Hickey was born in the Oklahoma panhandle, and his folks "moved three miles north into Kansas," Hickey said. He grew up in Kansas, where he graduated from high school, and entered the Army in December 1944.
Fighting the Japanese in Philippines, Hickey was wounded, taking shrapnel to his arm.
Hickey left the Army in 1946, worked at different jobs in Kansas and ended up in West Virginia, where he worked in a coal mine. Hickey got engaged and decided to return to Kansas to go to college. Hickey was in college when his fiance sent him the "Dear John" letter.
Hickey returned to West Virginia to "try to patch things up," but it didn't work. Hickey worked some more in a coal mine, re-enrolled in college and went back in the Army in 1947.
Hickey became an Army photographer and was stationed in Okinawa when the Korean War began. Hickey was sent to Korea, where Bob and his two brothers — Dean, a Marine, and Ernest, an Air Force flight crew member — ended up together for the first time in four years.
After the Korean War, Hickey was at Camp Wolters in Mineral Wells, waiting to be discharged. But an event occurred in Brownwood in 1952: a heavy cargo planed landed at the Brownwood airport, damaging the runway. The Army sent Hickey to Brownwood to photograph the work by the Aviator Engineer Company from Camp Wolters to repair the runway.
"One of the guys told me he wanted to introduce me to a girl," Hickey said.
The girl was 17-year-old Jayne Fuller, who worked as a carhop at the Chisum Chicken Hut. Jayne was a high school student who'd been active in sports and band, and she had worked at the Chisum Chicken Hut since she was 14.
Jayne waited on the older soldier, and he offered her a ride home. Jayne accepted the offer. "I said 'sure' — it would save me 25 cents on a taxi," Jayne recalled. "I didn't tell him that."
The two began dating, Hickey left the Army and Bob and Jayne got married. They moved to Liberal, Kan., where Bob Hickey had jobs including working at a furniture store and carpet laying. While attending church in Liberal, Hickey said, he became a Christian. His wife had thought he already was one.
"I think the Lord had been reaching for me for a long time," Hickey said.
Seeking a better future, the Hickeys returned to Brownwood, where Bob Hickey enrolled in Howard Payne University.
Hickey studied Spanish and secondary education, then began his career working for the federal government. As a federal government employee, Hickey, his wife and family — which expanded to include six children — lived in Oklahoma, Minnesota, Missouri, Washington, D.C. and Georgia.
Hickey retired from the federal government after 30 years, and he and Jayne moved into a home just outside Blanket. He wasn't quite through working though. Hickey had a state job in Comanche, then retired for good around 1996.
The Hickeys are active in the First Baptist Church in Blanket, and work a pecan orchard. Bob Hickey is active with the American Legion and Lions Club, and is a member of the Gideons.
Jayne Hickey said she's glad Bob's first fiance dumped him. "Sure am," she said. "My mother prayed that I'd marry the right guy, and I did," she said.