DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN .......
Memories of the "Old Guard"
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The first rumor we heard in Boot Camp was "They put Saltpeter in the coffee."
Volunteering for shore patrol in an unfamiliar port to get the "lay of the land."
Getting the "hat" and having your wife say, "no more dirty dungarees."
Not having the heart to tell her about dirty khaki's.
Listening to a shipmate complain about losing in a poker game when he sat in with the Filipinos and wondering why.
Hearing stories about what it was like in the "Old Guard" on the mess deck.
Locating your skivies and tee shirts when the ships laundry came back. Giving the ship's laundryman a couple of bucks to wash and press a set of whites.
Opening the mail the relief ship brought to station and getting the first symptom of "channel fever." It was more fun when you learned from a distance a long distance that your wife was expecting!
The shock of your first reveille after you got to boot camp. When the shock of it wore off, wondering how you could endure four years of that.
Scrounging around for a sword for a full dress personnel inspection and finding out that there were more officers than available swords.
Getting your rating course from the Coast Guard Institute. Getting out the first few lessons PDQ. Looking at the box for months dreading having to complete it but knowing you had to..............................
The %#@*&^!@ boatswains pipe blown by the leading seaman. Never a sweet note!
How rich you felt every third month when you got an extra $12.00 clothing allowance in your pay. Forgetting how many of those $12.00's were needed to buy a set of dress blues.
Being issued the "rattiest" foul weather jacket on the ship when you first reported aboard. Conniving for ways to obtain another, nicer one. Getting that feeling of smug satisfaction when you finally got one that fit, that only had a few paint spots on it, and the zipper worked.
Liberty cards of different colors, one color for each duty section, and the special ones for special people. Envying the first class PO's who were allowed to keep their cards and not have to turn them in.
Carefully folding your dress blues after you returned from liberty and putting them between your mattress and the canvas so they would be ready for use the next liberty. You were the flat iron.
The joy of that first "Waldorf" shower after you returned to port.
Scrubbing the piping on your dress blues with soap and a toothbrush. Trying to rinse the residue off. When you finally couldn't get them clean or they were so frayed, the uniform had to be repiped. Wondering if you could hold out until you shifted to whites to get that done.
White Ice Breakers and Red Lightships.
The "W" on every Coast Guard Cutter hull before the ship number.
The Master menu when everyone was supposed to have chicken on Sunday, wieners and beans on Saturday night, fish on Friday, Thursday was steak day, etc. etc. etc.
Finding out what "splicing the main brace" was.
The liberty section mustered on the quarterdeck in their dress uniform, were inspected by the OOD, and given their liberty cards to go ashore. If you needed a haircut, clean tee shirt, shined shoes, or anything the OOD didn't approve of you were sent back to correct it and then could not go ashore until the next liberty party was mustered. On liberal ships, First Class were allowed to leave the gangway first. No dungaree liberty in those days.......
The OOD of a Portland (Maine) Weather Ship would have to send a party of men up to the Blue Moon to gather up a good part of the crew so the ship could sail on time..... (Substitute Messina's on Hanover Street for the Boston based Cutters or The National Social Club for New Bedford based Cutters.)
The ship sailed for OS Charlie, stopped in Argentia, Newfoundland to refuel, stayed in the SAR area for 48 hours, arrived on station a few days later, did joint exercises, transferred the movies, watched the ship we relieved sail for home, tracked her to her home port, waited for and celebrated "hump day," watched the relief ship go into Bravo Two, and then set sail, plot her to Argentia, wait out the 48 hour SAR standby, track her to station hour by hour, do our joint exercises, transfer the movies, sail for home, stop in Argentia for the 48 hour SAR, fuel up and start plotting our way home. If we had a good Chief Engineer he had fuel saved for a "Full Power Trial," a good Naviguesser would take us through the Straits of Belle Isle, getting close to home everybody got "channel fever," passed the Light Ship, and that meant we were home, almost, tying up with less than the usual 146 bells, dependents were waiting on the dock, mustered for liberty, everybody not in the duty section that is, and went ashore with "love in our hearts and souls, and a full bag of dirty laundry. About the time things got hot around the house, it was time to sail to OS Bravo................
How easy it was to campaign for Wardroom Mess Treasurer. All you had to do to win was be on watch when they held the election. You most assuredly would win unanimously.
The "Weather Birds." Those were the four or five guys who were the last to board before sailing on weather patrol and the first to get off when the ship tied up.
"Standby for heavy rolls as the ship comes about." Always heard at the noon mess. Weather balloons were launched every six hours; midnight, 0600, noon, and 1800.
The Detex time detector clock we all abhorred. The hours of planning, conniving and plotting how to get around it.
Storing your clean clothes in your sea locker along with almost everything else you owned. Civilian clothes were forbidden on board for First Class and below because there was allegedly no room to store them.
Sea Store cigarettes wrapped in waxed paper that had distinctive blue labels on in place of the federal tax stamp. They cost anywhere from 50 cents to a dollar a carton. Enough cartons were usually bought to last through the patrol and following import period. That was about ten cartons of lung busters. Often they were stored in your seabag if you couldn't find another safe place for them. In those days everybody smoked but the few "odd" ones who didn't.
Being paid in cash on the mess deck. Pay call was not held at sea for fear the crew would gamble their money away. Nobody dreamed that games would be played on credit for the whole patrol with the payoff being on pay day just before arriving in port.
Breaking ice with empty wing tanks and thinking we lived on the inside of a well used bass drum....
Report Mast at 1100 and Request Mast at 1130. Sometimes we made both!
Eating better meals and drinking better coffee down in the engineroom then was ever served on the mess deck.
Breaking ice topside with a baseball bat when the ship iced up on Ocean Station Bravo in the Winter.
The kind Boatswains Mate who would put alcohol in the soogie water so it wouldn't freeze when working topside in mid winter.
Hearing, "Will the man with the keys to the paint locker lay to same" on the 1MC a half dozen times a day..
Making a grinder run up Hanover Street from your ship tied up at Constitution Wharf in Boston (exception to the dungaree liberty rule.)
Rolling and clothes stopping the entire seabag. Carrying blankets, and pillow in the seabag with the mattress wrapped around the outside on a transfer.
Movies on the mess deck. The hateful (and thoroughly stupid) Movie Officer who agreed to swap good movies for reruns of TV's Cimmeron City.
TAWD - Temporary Additional Winter Duty. Applicable to the Great Lakes only. Crewman from light and lifeboat stations who were assign to Winter stations and Cutters such as the Mackinaw. No extra money was paid for this type of TAD. ish
Receiving plenty of fish from friendly New Bedford fishermen. Eating fresh fish three times a week at home when the ship was in port.
As a snipe, watching the deckies and ops people go on liberty in port when you had to stay aboard to overhaul engines. When the overhaul was completed being denied compensatory liberty because stores had to be loaded and it was an "all hands" job.
The dumb snipe who blew tubes after midnight when their was no wind blowing in port. This always happened after the ship was cleaned up and the canvas work was freshly scrubbed.
The evaporator watchstander hanging around the main ships head just waiting to catch some Radarman or Quartermaster taking a "Waldorf Shower." Boatswain's Mates were never bothered.
Water hours. When "Raid" was used as a deodorant instead of "Right Guard."
Getting a liberty haircut from the ship's barber for 50 cents.
"Here are six APC's. Take two every four hours and you are fit for duty." "But Doc, I gotta broken leg!
The Blue Jacket 's Club at Argentia and the Cattle Car's at Gitmo. Experiences not easy to forget.
Greasy pork chops for evening chow on the first night out to sea. Joining the Junior Ensigns at the lee rail.
Swapping cans of coffee with the Yard Birds at Curtis Bay for everything imaginable.
Sardines and crackers for night rations. Waiting on the mess deck around midnight for the baker to start setting out freshly baked loaves of bread to cool. The first several loaves always disappeared quickly. The rest were sent to the freezer to be issued after the older bread stored there from previous night's baking (and weeks) was eaten.
Across the dock transfers. Ships were always shorthanded and needed crewmen to go on patrol. Arriving on one Weather Ship and sailing two days later on another one. Sometimes going back across the dock to catch your first ship about to leave after the one you were transferred to got back in off of patrol. Single sailors were particularly vulnerable.
Sewing on your first crow. The port list you developed during the first week after making third class. Wondering how to act. Worrying about losing your friends.
Stripe wetting parties. Paying for your promotion was like being shivareed.
The stiff formality of Change of Command Ceremonies. They always came in the Summer and the Chiefs had to put on their "Ice Cream Suits," the Officers their "Dress Whites" and the White Hats their regular uniforms. Their was always a scramble as Officers tried to borrow swords from other Officers. There must have been a dozen swords moving from ship to ship like garage sale merchandise moving from garage to garage.
The ill-fated "Donald Duck" hat. Born too late, died too young.
Trying to get hold of a good wartime five button peacoat rather than the WAVE type four button model that was being issued at Boot Camp.
Trading the 13 button uniform pants for zippers and back pockets. It was a challenge to go ashore in your sailor suit with the 13 button pants. There were ingenious ways to carry your cigarettes, wallet, ID and Liberty Card. Bulges in the top pockets were not allowed.
Rolled neckerchiefs vs. tailor made ones. The Navy SP's wrote you up for tailor made neckerchiefs. The same for tailor made blues. Couple this with "Dragons sewn inside your sleeve cuffs.
Wearing Wellington Boots was considered "Salty." Another SP attracter, like driving a bright red car down the freeway today.
Port and Starboard liberty was considered very good liberty. Two out of three was only a dream for most.
Slick arm (no longevity stripes, i.e., "Hashmarks") Chief ET's at Groton who were too young to buy beer at the Chief's Club.
"L" men on Lifeboat Stations who wore a different uniform. They were navy blue, single breasted uniforms and chief's style hats with a crossed oars across a life ring device. That uniform bears some similarity to the "Bender Blues" of today.
Beach cart drills. The populace from miles around would come and see them.
The "Buck and A Quarters" with a coal stove off of the small mess deck aft and the cramped crews quarters forward. This was almost like life on a submarine. It felt that way in rough seas.
Changing from blues to whites on the day of the surprise blizzard. Requesting permission to wear a pea coat over the whites and being turned down because you would be out of uniform.
The over zealous tippler who would come in at 0230 and hold reveille on all of his shipmates.
How the "Sand Pepe's" hated the "White Cuttermen" and vice versa.
When all the communications from the unit you were on had to be done by the Radiomen on Board as only Code was used, (Now it's outdated) [W6ANH]
ANECDOTES FROM THE PAST
Short Sea Stories ..................
Let's post our remembrances here. Email Jack and I will add them to this page. I don't want to have to do a lot of extra typing.
Semper Paratus and Keep the Faith!
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