The House on Hammond Drive: Chapter Six

When Phillip left for Korea, Emma was just barely four months along in her pregnancy, not really showing yet. At first she kept herself fairly busy preparing for the baby’s arrival. There were baby showers, and of course the building of their new house to attend to. In 1950 the wives of wealthy men did not develop their own careers. Their purpose was to support their husbands in theirs. The house would just barely be finished in time for her and the baby to move in after he or she was born. The baby was due in March, the house, it was hoped, would be finished at the end of February. Until that time, she lived with her parents. Emma hated that, but neither her parents nor her in-laws felt it was appropriate or safe for a young woman in her “condition” to be living alone. Her parents’ house was a place where not only could her parents look after her, but so could the “help” Emma had known growing up. She felt as if the only purpose in her life was to incubate this baby, since she’d had to give up her job when she and Phillip married. She felt fat, swollen, and unattractive for the first time in her life. Those maternity dresses were “ghastly tents,” and she longed for the designer styles she was used to wearing. With Phillip away at war and her being pregnant and living with her parents, she felt listless and alone. And so the remaining five months of her pregnancy crept slowly by.

On March thirteenth Emma awoke to sharp labor pains. Her father’s chauffeur drove her to the hospital and after an exhausting eighteen-hour labor, Phillip Hammond Andrews III, “Trey,” was born into this world. Both sets of grandparents came to the hospital to admire him, then returned to their own lives. She had a telegram sent to Phillip in Korea. He felt proud to be a father, but Emma and the baby, their whole world, in fact, seemed so foreign to him that it — the reality of his becoming a father– didn’t seem reality at all.

After their release from the hospital, Emma and baby Trey returned to her parents’ house for a few weeks of recuperation, then they moved into the new house — along with a housekeeper and a nanny. Emma had never felt so tired or so alone in her entire life. She was perfectly happy to hand her newborn baby over to a nanny. It’s not as if she knew what to do with him. She was pleased with him and believed him to be the prettiest baby on whom she’d ever laid eyes, but that getting up in the night, changing of dirty diapers, and constant feeding? Well, that was not what she envisioned herself doing. She was, she thought, too smart for that, so as soon as she could squeeze herself into her size-three skirts, she was back in the society column, not writing it now, but starring in it. She threw herself into as many charitable organizations as she could, becoming heavily involved in the burgeoning M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She felt that to be an appropriate cause for the wife of a promising, young surgeon. There were charity balls, cocktail parties, galas. Emma was strikingly beautiful, clever, and well-connected, which insured she made the news at least once a month. Helping to organize these events and of course attending them kept her away from home often. She played in a women’s tennis league at the River Oaks Country Club, made some efforts at golf, and she was determined to learn horseback riding before Phillip came back from Korea. Twice a week she drove out to the Andrews family ranch in Fort Bend County for a private lesson.

So, in these ways Emma entertained herself and staved off a general sense of malaise that tried to creep up on her during the nearly three years of Phillip’s absence. She wrote to him, giving news of the baby’s firsts, and more often than not, her latest social conquests and news of who’d done what to whom. His letters to her were vague and vacant. They showed scant interest in Trey’s accomplishments and even less in hers. They told nothing of what was happening there — by by U.S. Army regulations, and virtually nothing of what his feelings about it all were. The man who came home to her in the summer of 1953 was not the man she remembered, and certainly not the man she had created in her own mind while he was gone. Had he ever been as handsome and charming as she’d thought on that long-ago horseback ride at the ranch?

The House on Hammond Drive: Chapters Four and Five

 

When they returned in July, Emma wasn’t sure yet, but she was already pregnant with their first son. Sadly, something else began during Emma and Phillip’s honeymoon: the Korean Conflict. Phillip’s letter of induction was waiting for him in the huge stack of mail that had been held for them.

As a wedding gift, Phillip’s parents had given them a beautiful lot in River Oaks. Meeting with architects, interior designers, and landscapers, occupied much the time between their honeymoon and Phillip’s leaving.  They were both happy, of course, but their happiness was undoubtedly subdued because Phillip wouldn’t be here for the arrival of their newborn, the move into their new house, or even their first Christmas as a married couple. Their happy married life would last for only three months. He was to report to Camp Lee, Virginia on October fifteenth, after which he would commence fourteen weeks of basic training and officer training. Phillip was included among the first medical draftees of the Korean Conflict, and would be stationed in Korea as early as January of 1951.

 

Chapter Five

Nothing in his life of privilege had prepared Phillip for what he saw in Korea. He was very near the front line, the surgeon in a “forward collecting station” where jeeps and sometimes other soldiers bore litters carrying injured soldiers. After being assessed by medics and nurses, those with the most serious injuries were seen by Dr. Andrews. If he felt the wounds were survivable, he would, with the assistance of his staff nurses, complete whatever triage could be performed on the scene, and then helicopters would transport them to the battalion aid station. In many instances, Phillip was the one person standing between a soldier and his death. Soldiers came to him sometimes in pieces,  missing limbs, and sometimes even missing faces. He sifted through the wounded like someone might sift through fruit on a conveyor belt, tossing aside those considered to be unsalvageable. He dealt with this monstrous responsibility by gradually developing a cold detachment.

The forward collecting stations were in constant danger of being attacked. Phillip always worked with the sound of gunfire in the background, and often with the sound of grenades exploding nearby. What he saw while stationed there, he never talked about after his return to the states, but the stories of soldiers who survived make it clear that there we more than physical scars carried with the men and women who served during wartime. While some men returned from war missing a limb, Phillip returned missing his heart.