Story #1 of Crumby Tales of the Cookie Cutter

 Portland, Maine: Such a Friendly Town  

A ribald (true)story  

By John Russell

 

In April of 1970 fresh out of ET ”A” school, just turned 18 and ready for the real world I reported to my first “White one”, the CGC Cook Inlet. For you new guard types the “Cookie Cutter” as she was called was a former USN 311 ft. Small Seaplane Tender. Unlike modern Cutters she was old, cramped, hot in the summer and at times in the winter (on Ocean Station Bravo or Charlie) so cold that the berthing areas had ice on the bulkheads in the mornings from condensation. Racks were hung from chains and at times four high. With a round bottom she rolled like a bowling ball in a storm. But she was home and you quickly grew to love the old girl.

My first night aboard I was awoken by a watertight door slamming. About 30 minutes later it happened again and I noticed a guy coming out. I turned over and just as I was drifting off  I  heard the door open and slam closed again. Once again I turned over and attempted to go back to sleep thinking this must be part of the watch routine. As sleep was just creeping up on me the door opened and a different guy came out and secured the door. By now I was somewhat annoyed and tossing and turning trying to find a comfortable position that did not include a chain in my back or cold clammy bulkhead on my arms. I finally adopted a sleeping position that was only mildly uncomfortable when once again another guy goes into the compartment and closes the door. This went on ALL night and by morning I was a zombie. All I knew was this had to be a very important space due to the activity going on but being the “new guy” I didn’t want to ask stupid questions. Later in the day I decided to investigate this important space only to find what seem to be a storeroom of some kind for what seemed to be a lot of junk and a few blankets and pillows. Strange. 

That night nobody went in there that I knew of although I laid down and slept the sleep of the dead. About a week later the same routine started, guys in and out all night though by now I was getting used to the noises and was able to ignore them and go back to sleep. About 4 AM I woke up to a sound that just was not right aboard a ship back then, a distinctly feminine giggle from that compartment! Couldn’t be I thought, not here, so I went back to sleep and decided to break down and ask one of the ET’s the next day what was going on.

The next day when I was alone with one of the guys I ask him what was up.  Being somewhat dense I didn’t understand when he explained something about a “train.” He could tell by my blank stare I had no idea what he was talking about so he explained that Portland was such a friendly town that some women welcomed the crew back from sea! As I was later to learn the “Cookie Cutter” could have been part of the A.T.&S.F. Railroad from all the “train” service we had! 

 

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