by Al Siegrist

Extracted from "We've Been There" by Esther Stormer 1992 -- Reprinted by permission

Once upon a time in the Old Guard there was a cutter that not only had deck apes but a monkey as well ........

During the Midshipman cruise aboard the USCGC SHAW in 1928, we anchored at Gibralter and received a 48 hour pass. Some of us took the ferry over to Algiers. It was there I met a young beggar who pestered me to buy a monkey that he carried on his shoulder. I was young and my buddies dared me, so I bought the pleasant little fellow, who seemed to take a shine to me. We had a lot of fun ashore with him and by the time we got back to the SHAW I had named him "IKEY." The crew saw me coming aboard with a monkey on my shoulder and helped me find a crate to secure him for the night.

Next day we headed back to the states. We were to visit New York before heading back home to New London, Connecticut. During the first night at sea, some prankster let the monkey out of the crate. We sure had some time corralling IKEY. He was up the foremast, up in the crow's nest, climbing along the antennas to the main mast, and his droppings were all over the deck. The Skipper was furious and said we either had to catch him or shoot him.

It was three or four days before I was able to nab IKEY with the help of some bananas. Guess he was hungry at the time.

The Captain demanded that we rid the vessel of the nuisance as soon as we hit port. With the help of the Officers, we radioed the Bronx Zoo officials, the Philadelphia Zoo authorities, etc. All refused to accept IKEY because of the possibility of him carrying some disease.

Unknown to me and the rest of the crew, the Chief Bos'n Mate and the Captain along with the Communications Officer had decided to get rid of IKEY, the pest, one way or another. We were at anchor up the Hudson River for the night as the Midshipmen were scheduled to be in a parade the following morning. Upon anchoring around 98th Street, the Bos'n waited until 2300 and secretly tied the monkey to the anchor chain. Approximately five fathoms above the anchor. As it turned out the Captain had ordered an anchor watch because of the swift current in the river.

Around 0300 the seaman on anchor watch noticed the ship seemed to be drifting. He immediately reported same to the Quartermaster on watch who in turn alerted the Officer of the Deck.

The Captain heards the commotion and immediately joined the rest of the party on deck. As the group shined the flashlight over the side to check the anchor they were surprised to see IKEY climbing up on the chain, dripping wet, and chattering, with the anchor over his back -- BELIEVE IT OR NOT!

When last heard from IKEY the monkey was a weight lifter in a carnival!!!!!


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