By Harold Doan
Highway safety for People in Northern California
I was proud and happy when I sewed a second class petty officer crow on my uniform in 1951. Although I considered it prestigious, I had a small family and I discovered that it wasn't easy providing enough money for beans, macaroni and cheese, etc. not to mention uniform items, rent, and transportation to and from the ship. I would scour the side of the road for discarded refundable bottles! work at a gas station when time permitted and accept just about any odd job on time off. I was transferred from CG83453 at Alameda to CGC YOCONA AT Eureka,
California. My wife decided she would get a car and come meet me when I had found an apartment. The car was an old Studebaker, a real bomb. It looked like it had been submerged somewhere. After she came to Eureka, she was taking me to the ship at Fields Landing and we discovered that there were no brakes. We had a few close calls. I told her to go to a junk yard on the way home and sell it. Accept any offer. She got $17. I bummed rides until ENS Danny Muir sold me his 1948 Plymouth. Thank God for the Credit Union.
In my constant effort to supplement my Coast Guard paycheck, I would often take my annual thirty day leave and find a job for that period, telling my new employer that I had just been discharged from the Coast Guard, then at the end of the leave I would tell them that I intended to rejoin the Coast Guard. One year, I found a job as a taxi driver in Eureka, California. In those days (1952) it was sort of a wild town with many loggers and fishermen. Carting those guys around was fun. They were usually generous and lively. I picked up one pair that was from out of town for a logging equipment show in Eureka. The town had a reputation for being wide open, with about a dozen operating bordellos. However, some bluenose on the city council had recently managed to have them all closed. My fares wouldn't believe this and insisted that I take them to see the "girls". I gave in, and took them to the YWCA. It was dark and they couldn't see the sign. It was a dirty trick. I often wondered what the scene was like at the door that night.
One day Eureka I came home and discovered that my small son's hand had been hurt in the folding grill at a department store elevator. The Coast Guard contract doctor treated it and made a follow-up appointment. I thought that was the end of it, but later that evening we were called upon by a representative of the department store. He was concerned with their liability. He wanted me to accept some money and sign a form. I told him that the injury had been cared for and that we didn't think we had anything coming from their firm. He was very insistent: I wanted to tell him to leave, but my wife said that we needed new tires for the car, so we should be nice to him and accept some money. So, I signed their paper and my car had new tires all around!
The Ferry Fairy
In the mid 1960's the Ferry from Astoria to Meglar, Washington was a lame duck operation because a bridge was being built there from Oregon to Washington. We used the ferry ride as an amusement when we had visitors from out of town. My youngest son took a couple of Canadian visitors with him for a jaunt across the river. At the Megler, Washington side a camper trailer ran over my son's foot and broke it. Again a Coast Guard contract doctor treated it. He got a cast and crutches and was having a fine time as the center of attention. I then had a visit from the Washington State Patrol. He said, " I really hope you sock it to them because they are being sloppy and loading vehicles and passengers at the same time." He went on to say they were being careless because they would soon be out of business. So I found a lawyer, filed a claim and had almost forgotten it when the lawyer called for me to come in and pick up the check. He informed me that the money for was for my son and that I should spend it only on him. So I took some leave, gathered my family, and my son treated his family to a fabulous trip through the Canadian Rockies.
Fishing with a pencil
When I re-enlisted, I got a nice bonus that paid for new uniforms and a big home freezer. We planned to save money by getting meat in large quantities for the savings available.
One of the tasks of the ship at Eureka (YOCONA and later BALSAM) was to inspect fishing boats for compliance with safety regulations. When I was out in one of the ship’s boats on this duty I tried to board mostly the boats on their way into the harbor. In the course of the inspection I would admire their catch, usually salmon or Dungeness crab. There is a fine point of ethics here. I would never overlook a violation. If the inspection turned up an especially egregious shortcoming, it was written up. Sometimes, though, there would be a minor item that could be written up, but I thought would be better handled by stressing the regulation and .educating the fisherman on how he could best comply. We rarely went home empty handed. One evening, two fishermen friends of mine came to my apartment carrying a big tarp full of crab. We spent the night cooking and picking crab meat. I did not measure the crabs. I thought they were of legal size. Another friend gave us a big piece of bear meat. I was a little fishy, but tasted OK to me. This is how we managed to keep our new freezer full.
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