Cerrone, Colonel and Mrs.
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Roberson, Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs. Lieutenant Colonel Mike Ellerbe, Rennie's best friend from childhood both were Army brats , and his wife, Lucille, the daughter of a retired two-star general, slipped in through the back door an hour late. Soon the house was filled with laughter and chatter as guests balanced wineglasses or bottles of beer and plates of food. Lieutenant Colonel Mike Garrett came up to Andrea Lynne in the living room, where she was standing near a table of food talking with some wives, and introduced himself.
Rennie had met Garrett, a new neighbor, that afternoon on the golf course and invited him and his wife, Loralei, to the party. The Corys' second oldest daughter, Caroline, seventeen, a senior in high school, had agreed to babysit for them during the party, a testament to how quickly relationships formed on Army posts. Andrea Lynne cocked her head to one side. Your home. It's right out of a magazine. The food is fabulous, everything. And look at you, you're gorgeous! Rennie is a lucky man. She wanted guests to feel as if they never wanted to leave her home. Social gatherings have always been an integral part of Army life.
They date back to isolated Old West outposts, where Army families lived on an austere and often hostile frontier and where they had only one another for protection and companionship. The post came to symbolize security and community. And many Army couples enjoy the military tradition of entertaining in their homes. The coffees and parties offer a chance to get to know one another despite a constant state of flux. Every month there are "hails and farewells" for officers and their spouses who are joining a unit or leaving it. The Corys' toffee-colored, stucco Spanish Colonial Revival--style house was part of Fort Bragg's Normandy housing area, which was named, like all the streets and neighborhoods on the post, for the great battle campaigns of World War II.
Fort Bragg itselfhome to the 18th Airborne Corps headquarters, the 82nd Airborne Division, the Green Berets, and the secretive Delta Forcehas more than 42, soldiers and is mammoth, with almost four times the land area of the nation's capital. The post had been named for Braxton Bragg, an arguably inept and indecisive Confederate general who was despised by his men and had been relieved of his command but was nonetheless a Civil War hero in the Old South.
All the necessities of urban life are there: a post office, hospital, schools, churches, day care, movie theater, florist, shopping, gas stations, two Class VI liquor stores , sports bars, fast food restaurants, pools, bowling, two golf courses, gyms, fishing, parks, you name it. It is possible to stay on the post and never leave. I grew up hearing my parents and others casually refer to life on the outside.
The world beyond the gates is known as precisely thatthe outsidea foreign place populated by slack civilians. At Fort Bragg I found that many of the senior officers wanted to live in Normandy, which seemed happily suspended between the presentthe high-paced operation tempo that governed life on a combat-ready postand a bygone era in which Army wives wore hats and gloves, and in which calling cards were part of their social etiquette. The trees are older than Andrea Lynne; and the houses, constructed between and , belong, like old quarters on military posts everywhere, to Army tradition.
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And like everything in the Army, the houses are arranged and awarded according to rank. Captains and majors live in the redbrick ranch duplexes in Lower Normandy. The quarters may be small and cramped, but there is still a waiting list to get one. The single ranches nearby are slightly bigger. You have to know someone or be willing to wait a year or two to get in.
The one-story bungalows and the two-story duplexes are for lieutenant colonels. Full colonels live in two-story homes, which are upgraded for generals by adding awnings on the windows, putting an ice maker in the fridge, and maybe building a privacy fence in the backyard. Behind the quarters are small garages used in the old days to house polo ponies or Model T's.
Most people use them as sheds. Rennie kept his Harley in theirs. Rennie had lived in several Normandy homes and even helped build the quarters in Biazza Ridge as a teenager, when his father, retired Colonel Rennie Cory Sr. The duplex at 11 South Dupont Plaza sat on the upper end of a horseshoe-shaped street that was home to officersmostly lieutenant colonelsholding key positions.
A short walk down Totten Street led to the officers' club, the pool, tennis courts, and Ryder Golf Course.
Andrea Lynne loved everything about her housethe hardwood floors, the winding staircase with its black handrail, the fireplace, the corner cabinets with glass doors in the dining room, the built-in bookcases in the living room, the high ceilings, and the deep windowsills on which she displayed treasures gathered during a lifetime in the Army. It was Andrea Lynne's dollhouse, and she decorated it in English country style with Victorian overtones.
At Christmastime she really went all out. The previous December, in , the Cory home was one of twelve quarters featured on the Normandy Housing Tour of Homes, a huge annual holiday fund-raiser sponsored by the Fort Bragg Officers' Wives Club. The word on the street that night was, You just need to go see the Cory home. Tonight everything was again on display.
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Around the lamppost Andrea Lynne had wrapped North Carolina grapevine, spray-painted white, and entwined the vines with crocheted snowflakes. The outside entrance twinkled with icicle lights and an arch of more grapevine and snowflakes. In the dining room Rennie's grandmother's silver tea set she, too, had been an Army wife sat on the buffet surrounded with fruitpineapples, apples, kiwis, figs, clove-studded persimmons, filberts, and cinnamon sticks, which gave off a heavenly scent. In one corner of the dining room a mantelpiece from Georgia displayed Andrea Lynne's angel print collection.
The antique went with the Corys from home to home, a wooden tribute to the military, signaling: Home is where the Army sends us. Poinsettias, German nutcrackers, Christmas stockings and throw pillows, a collection of Santa figurinesno space was left untouched. Andrea Lynne looked over at her husband as he welcomed their guests.
She and Rennie had made love that morning after breakfast, as they always did on the day of a party or social engagement. It was sort of a quick "Hello, I love you above all else," and a "See you at the finish line at the end of the day" ritual. For Andrea Lynne it was also a great secret to a happy marriage. She knew Rennie could get a little jealous sometimes. The sex was her way of boosting his confidence and reassuring her husband how much she loved him. She still loved looking at him.
He had a broad forehead, framed by archless eyebrows that extended a good inch beyond his eyes, which were blue with specks of green that Andrea Lynne thought gave them a touch of sadness. His eyes were the exact same color as hers. But Rennie's eyebrows were his trademark feature and could make him look intimidating, depending on his mood. Andrea Lynne adored seeing her husband naked. He was all man, not skinnyRennie's weight fluctuated from when he was happy to when he was away from homejust right. He wasn't broad shouldered, but he made up for it in muscle, a tribute to his daily workouts.
As for her husband's chest, her girlfriends joked that he had more cleavage than she did. The sex before a party was just one of their rituals. Each morning Rennie made coffee for his wife and brought it to her bedside before kissing her good-bye. On weekends they would make love after breakfast, their kisses tasting of coffee and pancakes. And each night he'd rub Andrea Lynne's feet and shoulders. He was always touching her. This morning, instead of cuddling and talking, it had been: On your mark, get set, go! They were off to orchestrate a successful party. Nothing had been left to chance, including Andrea Lynne's outfit.
She wanted to look casually beautiful and sexy, and she wore a long black velvet skirt with a form-fitting baby blue velvet scoop-neck tee. Her silky black bra strap kept peeking out. She had let her shoulder-length blond hair air-dry that morning so it would stay in ringlets.
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The Corys' oldest daughter, Natalie, home from college, had dressed up, too, to serve hors d'oeuvres from a silver tray. The Corys' other children were little Rennie, who had turned fifteen two days earlier and their youngest, Madelyn, age ten. Natalie, an intelligent, feminine girl with fair skin and long dark hair, liked to stay near her father.
Andrea Lynne could tell Rennie enjoyed having such a beautiful daughter. He introduced her several times as his "dean's list girl. Rennie looped his arm around his daughter's waist and pulled her close. She was a petite woman with sparkling eyes, a panoramic smile, and the confidence that beautiful women possessedwhich could be both a blessing and a curse in the Army. Tonight, though, it was working its magic as she greeted officers and their wives. Both had been snookeredeach had been told the other had already agreed to do itinto serving on the PTA board, with Andrea Lynne as president and Alice as treasurer.
The wife of Colonel Tom Maffey was a striking woman, tall and incredibly thin, with long blond hair. She sipped a glass of hot glhwein and moved on. The two friends never chatted much at parties. Being an officer's wife meant being onstage, working the crowd. They would talk later, when they were alone. Andrea Lynne had her part down perfectly. She circulated constantly, giving everyone the same smile and an "I'm so glad you came! The music for the evening had been carefully planned. Rennie loved classic rock and often whispered lyrics in Andrea Lynne's ear.
Toward the end of the party, when there were just a few couples left, Andrea Lynne would play something to heighten the romance, Sade, perhaps, or Fiona Apple and Dido. But right now there were fifty-eight people in the house. Andrea Lynne was pleasantly surprised by the turnout. A party that big was bound to be successful. There was no room to sitdeath to a partyeveryone had to stand and move around. And since the bathroom was upstairsthese quarters had no lavatory on the first floor, the biggest complaint of those who lived in themher guests got to admire more of her decorating.
The floor of the bathroom, for example, was covered in small spring-green square tiles another frequent complaint , but Andrea Lynne had just worked with the color scheme. She covered the walls with framed photos of Rennie with the children and thought of it as a Father's Day bathroom. Everyone at the party got to see another side of her husband and commented on the pictures. She loved displaying images of friends and family. One window ledge held photographs of Andrea Lynne's friends from past Army assignments.
She liked to say that her friends were with her wherever she moved. The wall along the curving stairway had all old black-and-white photos in silver and gold and wood frames. She irreverently called it her dead people wall, even though several of the photos were of the couple and their parents as children. At the bottom of the stairs was a beautiful charcoal drawing of Rennie's mother, Patty, who had died of breast cancer when he was eight. It was the only thing he had inherited from his mother's side of the family, and Rennie adored it. Every house Andrea Lynne lived in, she decorated from floor to ceiling, painting and wallpapering the house like a three-dimensional canvas.
Some wives found her decorating excessive, but then, they didn't view themselves as artists, as Andrea Lynne did. We live here three years of our lives, Andrea Lynne told herself. We can never get those years back. Why not make them beautiful? Each corner had to be fabulous. She herself made all the curtains heavy red velvet with rich flower valences that she carried from quarters to quarters and most of their bedspreads with her Sears sewing machine, a Christmas present from early in her marriage.
Of course when moving time came around every few years, the house had to be put back the way it originally was. As the space filled with people, Linda Jefferson, the wife of Lieutenant Colonel Dick Jefferson, a battalion commander, found Andrea Lynne and suggested a rendezvous outside with a pack of cigarettes. Whenever she saw Andrea Lynne at any function, she'd grab her to sneak a cigarette. Linda, who had short brown hair and wore glasses, was a closet smokerand a hoot.
At wives' gatherings, when it was time to say good-bye, she'd tell Andrea Lynne that she had to get home to "her Dick," and then she'd wink. Andrea Lynne located Rennie's older sister, Stephanie, another smoker, and the three women slipped out the front door. The air was cool, cool enough for a shiver but bearable without a coat. Andrea Lynne only smoked occasionally, sometimes with her girlfriends, more frequently out of loneliness when Rennie was away. She had never smoked when she was in her twenties, when she was having babies or nursing them.
And Rennie never touched a cigarette, but he encouraged her.
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He'd pour her a glass of wine before dinner, and on warm nights he'd ask her to come sit with him out back. You could smoke a cigarette. Smoking a cigarette now, with the sounds of the party muffled by walls and windows, Andrea Lynne reflected on just how closeand effectivea team she and Rennie had become. Army life had taught Andrea Lynne well. She felt as if she helped turn a wheel in a great military machine. As far as she was concerned, it was really the wives who ran Fort Bragg. She had a definite role to play and could play it expertlybut then she'd had years of experience.
That was the only way you could learn the lessons of an Army wife; it wasn't as though the military gave you a manual to prepare you for the dos and don'ts of socializing, politicking, fund-raising, group dynamics, jugglingor curtain making, for that matter. What an officer's wife did affected her husband's career, and just as Rennie had mastered his command and risen through the ranks, Andrea Lynne, too, had had to take on increasing responsibilities and figure out how to fight her own battles and marshal her forcesthe other wives. It wasn't always easy. When Rennie was a young lieutenant in the early eighties, another lieutenant's wife had spread a rumor that Andrea Lynne had said a superior officer and his wife were prejudiced.
The rumor was completely untrue, but it was picked up by a captain's wife, and Rennie got called into his superior's office and asked why his wife would make such a statement. Of course she never had, and as far as Rennie's career was concerned, that was that. But the story reached the superior's wife. One morning the woman arrived unannounced at the Corys' door. Without asking if the rumor was true, she began berating Andrea Lynne, who was still in her robe and without any makeup.
Hurt and embarrassed, Andrea Lynne stayed in seclusion for a while. They were leaving the post within the month, and since Rennie had no more problems over the incident, that was all Andrea Lynne cared about. Yet at their farewell, Andrea Lynne found herself next to the captain's wife who had helped set the rumor mill in motion. Andrea Lynne was scared about confronting a superior's spouse, but she took a deep breath and weighed in. If you felt it needed to be addressed, why didn't you confirm it with me first?
Please think of something you can do to make it better. The experience had left its mark. In time Andrea Lynne had learned when to battle back and when to let things take their course. At its best the Army community has tremendous camaraderie; in a crisis no group pulls together better to take care of its own. I've witnessed it many times. Officers' wives still have to be careful.
Andrea Lynne had seen it all. The womenwho can be as gossipy as rival sorority girlsare always sizing each other up. They will say a wife is a snob if she is quiet, a slut if she talks to the guys, and vain if she wears fashionable clothing. If she works and doesn't participate in unit functionswell, then the word is, She's got her own life and that marriage is not going to last.
Much of the scrutiny is reserved for the commander's wife, and it starts even before a commander and his wife are transferred to Bragg. As soon as the news hits, the questions start flying: How does she act? Where is she from? How many kids? Does she work? What does she look like? Is she overweight? What does she do? Is she a Board Warmer? And the very first time she appears across Pike Field at the change-of-command ceremony, the rest of the wives are already guessing the bottle number her hair color comes from, wondering where she bought her dress, and assessing how she carries herself.
If she isn't smiling, why not? If she was, what does she have to smile about? Being a commander's wife is fishbowl living, and there is no escape. These days, when any of her friends' husbands took command, Andrea Lynne gave the couples sympathy cards at their ceremonies. They would need the sense of humor. If the wife was pretty, her role was even trickier. Andrea Lynne knew that firsthand. There were no hard-and-fast rules. Your husband might get hired because you were pretty.
Or not: One of Rennie's peers had turned down a major who was lobbying for a job because the major's wife seemed a bit too friendly and showed a little too much cleavage. When is that a bad thing? Find some volunteer job no one else wanted and do it well. And learn to manage your group of wives as well as any commander. A significant number of the soldiers in the battalion are married with children. The commander's wife has the responsibility, with her husband, of leading the unit's Family Readiness Group FRG , which means keeping soldiers and spouses informed of events and issues affecting the battalion.
In addition commanders' wives have to keep up with pregnancies, births, and miscarriages; the number of families in need of frozen turkeys for Thanksgiving; women who can't get their sick child a doctor's appointment; and the frantic a. Each battalion also has its own officers' wives' coffee groups, which meet at a different house each month. The coffees are mostly social, and sometimes have a theme and some business on the agenda.
The commander's wifethe leader of the coffeesintroduces new wives and bids farewell to those departing, discusses upcoming events and battalion news, and passes along the men's field and jump schedules. She also has to address any concerns the ladies have. Andrea Lynne tried to get to know each woman, find out her talents, and pull her into the group. She never let the business feel like business. Instead she'd joke with all the girls, highlighting each person at least once throughout the meeting, and introduce two or three ladies that she thought might become friends.
She'd focus on the wives who were soldiers themselves, asking them about their jobs, and zero in on the new mothers when she talked about who must really be tired. Rennie was a master at this kind of thing. She'd watched him clap some young new lieutenant on the back and tell the battalion what the guy's major in college had been, that he was the one they should ask for advice on such and such. Like him, Andrea Lynne tried never to leave anyone out, so all the women felt special, as though each one had a place.
Andrea Lynne's coffees were famous. She always brought out the china and crystal and had fun with the themes. For Valentine's Day she served aphrodisiacs: lobster chunks with Green Goddess dressing, "White Devil" eggs and caviar, shrimp cocktail, Cupid cherry-cheesecakes, chocolate-covered cherries, marinated mushrooms, sugar-frosted grapes, and pink champagne. She got the women to make Valentines for their guys, then had Rennie hand-deliver them at his next morning's meeting. The women loved it. Once, after the operations officer's wife left, they doctored the outside of her card, so that the next morning the major, in front of the staff, received a Valentine addressed to "My Stud Muffin.
If the men were in the field, it was ladies' night outalso at Andrea Lynne's housewith music, margarita mix, dip, chips, cookies, and cake. But it took hard work to create such a close-knit coffee group.
Andrea Lynne remembered her first coffee as the commander's wife. She attended an evening pajama party and greeted the other wives wearing Caroline's footsie pajamas with her lovey the family name for a small cotton throw draped over her shoulder. The women drank mimosas and got down to the business of the evening: discussing a new phone number for the Robinson Health Clinic.
It should have been easy. This coffee group was already well establishedand the former commander's wife, Melissa Huggins, who would become Andrea Lynne's good friend, was well loved. So I didn't really read the synopsis of this book before borrowing it. As I'm in the midst of planning to become an Army wife myself, I was looking for something interesting on the topic, and the title plus the picture on the front soldier and bride kissing under the saber arch seemed to be what I wanted. Truthfully, I was thinking it would be a little sweet, a little gossipy, and sortof like a slightly-more-serious version of the TV show Army Wives.
The book starts off with the grisly stories of the four Army wives at Fort Bragg who were murdered by their husbands in the summer of Of course, my future husband is currently stationed at Fort Bragg. Anyway, the whole book basically revolves around the stories of deeply troubled marriages made worse by the demands of deployments, and the one healthy and loving marriage ends with the husband being killed in a helicopter accident. So, not an uplifting book -- in fact, fairly depressing across the board.
I cried more than once. But in the end, I'm glad I read it -- the author's journalistic background helps her get the facts across, but she also does a great job of humanizing the people behind the "news stories. Here at Walmart. Your email address will never be sold or distributed to a third party for any reason. Due to the high volume of feedback, we are unable to respond to individual comments. Sorry, but we can't respond to individual comments. Recent searches Clear All. Update Location. If you want NextDay, we can save the other items for later. Yes—Save my other items for later.
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Add to Cart. Product Highlights Four Fort Bragg Army wives face hardship, tragedy, betrayal, and their own demons as they try to fulfill the antiquated role the Army expects of them. This is a true story about what happened when real life collided with Army traditions.
About This Item We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. Specifications Publisher St. Martin's Press. Customer Reviews. See all reviews. Write a review. Most Helpful Review. Average rating: 5 out of 5 stars, based on reviews.