As you all know, many of us sat on the fantail and watched the world go by and shoot the bull, so i figured this would be a good place to put various things, such as memories or sea stories, or anything else you want to add. You'll have to send me emails for me to put them on the page- please try to keep it basically "clean" because sometimes i get women and kids viewing the site because dad or grampa was on the ship. If this page doesn't work out, i'll just discontinue it, but hopefully it'll be enjoyable for everyone.
This is a plaque that a former shipmate (Tom Swearingen) makes. He informed me that he has changed the eagle for a better one, and he sells these. If you are interested in purchasing one, email tom at email@example.com
and he can give you all the info you need. I've seen his work before and it's well worth whatever he asks. He also said you can put any ship name on it.
LIFE WAS TOUGH FOR SAILORS 150 YEARS AGO.
In Horace Greeley's Almanac for the years 1838--1868, you will find the following table of naval punishments:
For skulking (malingering) 12 lashes
For filthiness 12 lashes
For drunkeness and breaking into the liquor locker 12 lashes
For stealing bread from the oven 9 lashes
For taking clothes ashore for sale 12 lashes
For throwing the top of the spittoon overboard 6 lashes
For being naked on deck 9 lashes
"Lashes" means strikes upon the offenders body with the cat o nine tails.
The "cat" was a handheld whip with a sturdy wooden handle about 12 inches long, fitted with 9 braided lenghts of leather, each about 24 inches long. The braiding was finished on the end to expose "tails" from the braiding leather. The tails were 6 to eight inches long but could become shorter from vigorous use. The tails were easily replaceable.
So cheer up guys-- we didn't have it so bad.
There was a time when everything you owned had to fit in your seabag. Remember those rascals? Fully packed, one of those suckers weighed more than the poor devil hauling it. The damn thing weighed a ton and some idiot with an off-center sense of humor sewed a carry handle on it to help you haul it. Well, you could bolt a handle on a greyhound bus, but it wouldn't make the damn thing portable. The Army, Marines and Air Force got footlockers and we got a big ol canvas bag. After you warped your spine jackassing the goofy thing through a bus or train station, sat on it waiting for connecting transportation and made folks mad because it was too damn big to fit in any overhead rack on any bus, train, and airplane ever made, the contents looked like hell. All your gear appeared to have come from bums who slept on park benches. Traveling with a seabag was something left over from the "yo ho ho and a bottle of rum" sailing ship days. Sailors used to sleep in hammocks. So you stowed your issue in a big canvas bag and lashed your hammock to it, hoisted it on your shoulder and in effect moved your entire home and complete inventory of earthly possesssions from ship to ship. I wouldn't say you traveled light, because with one strap it was a one-shoulder load that could torque your skeletal frame and bust your ankles. It was like hauling a dead linebacker. They wasted a lot of time in boot camp telling you how to pack one of those suckers. There was an officially sanctioned method of organization that you forgot 10 minutes on the other side of the gate at Great Lakes or San Diego. You got rid of a lot of issue gear when you went to the SHIP..........Did you ever know a tin can sailor who had a raincoat? A flat hat? One of those hugger knit swimsuits? How 'bout those roll your own neckerchiefs..... The ones the girls in a good naval tailor shop would cut down and sew into a "greasy snake" for 2 bucks? Within 6 months, every fleet sailor was down to one set of dress blues, port and starboard undress blues and whites, a couple of whitehats, boots, shoes, assorted skivies a peacoat and 3 sets of bleached out dungarees. The rest of your original issue was either in the pea coat locker, dittybag, or had been reduced to wipe down rags in the engineroom. Underway ships were not ships that allowed vast accumulation of private gear.
Hobos who lived in discarded refrigerator crates could amass greater loads of pack rat crap than fleetsailors. The confines of a canvas back rack, side locker and a couple of bunk bags did not allow one to live a Donald Trump existense. Space and the going pay scale combined to make us envy the lifestyle of a mud hut Ethiopian. We were the global equivalents of nomadic mongols without ponies to haul our stuff.
And after the rigid routine of boot camp we learned the skill of random compression packing.... Known by mother's world wide as "cramming". It is amazing what you can jam into a space no bigger than a breadbox if you pull a watchcap over a boot and push it in with your foot. Of course it looks kinda weird when you pull it out, but they never hold fashion shows at sea, and wrinkles added character to a salty appearance. There was a 400 mile gap between the images on recruiting posters and the actual appearance of sailors at sea. It was not without justification that we were called the tin can navy.
We operated on the premise that if "cleanliness was next to Godliness", we must be next to the other end of the spectrum... We looked like our clothing had been pressed with a waffle iron and packed by a bulldozer. But what in hell did they expect from a bunch of jerks that lived in the crew hole of an Adamsclass can. After a while, you got used to it....you got used to everything you owned picking up and retaining that distinctive aroma......You got used to old ladies on busses taking a couple of wrinkled nose sniffs of your peacoat, then getting up and finding another seat.
Do they still issue seabags? Can you still make 5 bucks sitting up half the night drawing a ships picture on the side of one of the damn things with black and white marking pens that drive old master at arms into a "rig for a heart attack" frenzy? Make their faces red...the veins on their neck bulge out... and yell, "Jesus H. Christ!!! What in Gods name is that all over your seabag?" "Artwork chief.... it's like the work of Michaelangelo...my ship...great, huh?" "Looks like some damn comic book....."
Here was a man with cobras tattooed on his arms... a skull with a dagger through one eye and a ribbon reading "Death before shore duty" on his shoulder.... crossed anchors with "Subic Bay '45" on the other shoulder... an eagle on his chest and a full blown Chinese dragon peeking out between the cheeks of his butt. If anyone was an authority on stuff that looked like a comic book, it had to be this E-7 sucker.
Sometimes i look at all the crap stacked in my garage, close my eyes and smile, remembering a time when everything i owned could be crammed into a canvas bag.
Maturity is hell.
A DEFINITION OF A SAILOR
After the security of childhood and the insecurity of 2nd childhood, we find a good male called a sailor. Sailors come in assorted sizes, shapes and states of sobriety.
Sailors can be found everywhere-- on ships, in bars, on leave, in love, or in debt. Girls love them, mothers tolerate them and the United States supports them.
A sailor is laziness with a deck of cards, bravery with a gun and the protector of America with a copy of Playboy.
A sailor is a composite. He has the energy of a turtle, the slyness of a fox, the brains of an idiot, the stories of a sea captain, the sincerity of a liar, the appetite of a lion, the aspiration of a casanova, and when he wants something, it's usually a weekend pass.
He likes girls, women, females, and the opposite sex. He dislikes answering letters, wearing his uniform, superior officers, the food, and getting up on time.
Nobody can write so little and think about so much. Nobody gets more fun out of letters, civilian clothes and joke books. Nobody can cram into one little pocket, a Maryilyn Monroe calendar, a letter from home, a deck of cards, a pair of dice and the rest of last months pay.
A sailor is a magical creature. You can lock him out of your heart, take him off your mailing list, but you can't get him out of your mind. Might as well give up--he's your long distance lover, your one and only bright eyed good for nothing bundle of worry.
But all your shattered dreams seem to end when he comes home with those two magical words-- "Hi Honey".
The Missing Man Table:
The table is a way of recognizing the kindred feeling that members of our profession of arms are missing from our midst. They were our comrades in arms. They are unable to be with us, so we will remember them this way.
The small table is set for one. It symbolizes each member of our armed forces who died while defending our country. It also represents our own comrades in arms who served along beside us but have died for some other reason and cannot be with us at this ceremony.
A white tablecloth covers the small table, and is set with white china, symbolizing the purity of their hearts.
A single red rose is displayed in a glass vase to remind us of the families and loved ones who keep the faith, even though the missing will not return.
A red ribbon is tied prominently to the vase, reminding us of the blood our fallen comrade shed defending our country and our way of life.
A crystal glass of water is to quench their thirst for freedom
A slice of lemon on a bread plate is to remind us of their bitter fate.
A pile of salt on the plate is symbolic of the tears shed by their families.
The chair is empty because they cannot be with us at this ceremony.
Now, we take the time to remember them. The place we set for them is special; just as the place we hold for them in our heart and memory. Think of them. Remember them.