24 October 2011

The Seabag

There was a time when everything you owned had to fit in your seabag. Remember those nasty rascals? Fully packed, one of the suckers weighed more than the poor devil hauling it. The damn things weighed a ton and some idiot with an off-center sense of humor sewed a carry handle on it to help you haul it. Hell, 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 ole' 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 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 the suckers. There was an officially sanctioned method of organization that you forgot after ten minutes on the other side of the gate at Great Lakes or San Diego.
You got rid of a lot of the 'issue' gear when you went to a SHIP. Did
you EVER know a tin-can sailor who had a raincoat? A flat hat? One of those nut-hugger knit swimsuits? How bout those 'roll-your-own' neckerchiefs... the ones girls in a good Naval tailor shop would cut down & sew into a 'greasy snake' for two bucks?
Within six months, EVERY fleet sailor was down to ONE set of dress blues, port & starboard, undress blues, and whites, a couple of white hats, boots, shoes, a watch cap, assorted skivvies, a pea coat, and three sets of bleached-out dungarees.
The rest of your original issue was either in the pea coat locker, lucky bag, or had been reduced to wipe-down rags in the paint locker. 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 fleet sailors. The confines of a
canvas-back rack, side locker, and a couple of bunk bags did NOT allow one to live a Donald Trump existence.
Space and the going pay scale combined to make us envy the lifestyle of a mud-hut Ethiopian. We were 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, known by mothers world-wide as 'cramming'. It is amazing what you can jam into a space no bigger than a bread-box if you pull a watch cap over a boot and push it 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 four-hundred mile gap between the images on recruiting
posters and the ACTUAL appearance of sailors at sea. It was NOT without justifiable reason 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 that 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 swabs that lived in a crew's hole of a 2100 Fletcher Class can? After awhile 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 pea coat, then getting and finding another seat.
Sometimes, I look at all the crap stacked in my garage and home, close my eyes and smile, remembering a time when EVERYTHING I owned could be crammed into that one canvas bag...

21 October 2011

Hank Jr

Hank Williams Jr. apologized for comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler Sunday in a Fox News interview. It’s all smoothed over now.

Within two days, the surviving members of the Hitler family appeared on German television and accepted Hank’s apology

05 October 2011


Memory Stick

Making Love

My wife said to me the other night “how come we don’t make love like they do in the movies?”So I bent her over the table, smacked her on the ass, grabbed her by the hair, fucked her hard and came on her face….

Turns out we don’t watch the same movies

03 October 2011

Liberty Bars

I joined the Navy when i was 17 and shipped off to Boot camp 2 months after my 18th birthday. I completed Boot and "A" School in Great lakes IL. From there i was assigned the USS Belknap in Gaeta Italy. I have been to damn near every country that has a shore or harbor on the Mediterranean sea. I was 18 when i arrived in Gaeta and almost 21 when i left. I grew up in Liberty Bars. I found the following article and thought you might like it.

Our favorite liberty bars were unlike no other watering holes or dens of iniquity inhabited by seagoing men. They had to meet strict standards to be in compliance with the acceptable requirement for a sailor beer-swilling dump. The first and foremost requirement was a crusty old gal serving suds. She had to be able to wrestle King Kong to parade rest. Be able to balance a tray with one hand, knock sailors out of the way with the other hand and skillfully navigate through a roomful of milling around drunks. On slow nights, she had to be the kind of gal who would give you a back scratch or put her foot on the table so you could admire her new ankle bracelet some "mook" brought her back from a Hong Kong liberty. A good barmaid had to be able to whisper sweet nothings in your young sailor ear like, "I love you no shit, you buy me Honda??"
"Buy a pack of Clorets and chew up the whole thing before you get within heaving range of any gal you ever want to see again." And, from the crusty old gal behind the bar, "Hey animals, I know we have a crowd tonight, but if any of you guys find the head facilities fully occupied and start pissing down the floor drain, you're gonna find yourself scrubbing the deck with your white hats!"
The barmaids had to be able to admire great tattoos, look at pictures of ugly bucktooth kids and smile. Be able to help haul drunks to cabs and comfort 19 year-olds who had lost someone he thought loved him in a dark corner booth. They could look at your ship's identification shoulder tab and tell you the names of the Skippers back to the time you were a Cub Scout.
If you came in after a late night maintenance problem and fell asleep with a half-eaten Slim-Jim in your hand, they tucked your peacoat around you, put out the cigarette you left burning in the ashtray and replaced the warm draft you left sitting on the table with a cold one when you woke up. Why? Simply because they were one of the few people on the face of the earth that knew what you did, and appreciated what you were doing.
And if you treated them like a decent human being and didn't drive 'em nuts by playing songs they hated on the juke box, they would lean over the back of the booth and park their soft, warm tits on your neck when they sat two San Miguel beers in front of you. And the Imported table wipe down guy and glass washer, trash dumper, deck swabber and paper towel replacer. The guy had to have baggy tweed pants and a gold tooth and a grin like a 1950 Buick. And a name like "Ramon", "Juan", "Pedro" or "Tico". He had to smoke unfiltered Luckies, Camels or Raleighs. He wiped the tables down with a sour wash rag that smelled like a billy goats crotch and always said, "How are choo navee mans tonight? He was the indispensable man. The guy with credentials that allowed him to borrow Slim-Jims, Beer Nuts and pickled hard boiled eggs from other beer joints when they ran out where he worked.
The establishment itself. The place had to have walls covered with ship and squadron plaques. The walls were adorned with enlarged unit patches and the dates of previous deployments. A dozen or more old, yellowed photographs of fellows named "Buster", "Chicago", "P-Boat Barney", "Flaming Hooker Harry", "Malone", "Honshu Harry", "Jackson", "Douche Bag Doug", and "Capt Slade Cutter" decorated any unused space. It had to have the obligatory Michelob, Pabst Blue Ribbon and "Beer Nuts sold here" neon signs. An eight-ball mystery beer tap handle and signs reading. "Your mother does not work here, so clean away your frickin trash.""Keep your hands off the barmaid.""Don't throw butts in urinal.""Barmaid's word is final in settling bets.""Take your fights out in the alley behind the bar!""Owner reserves the right to waltz your worthless sorry ass outside.""Shipmates are responsible for riding herd on their ship/squadron drunks." This was typical signage found in any good liberty bar.
You had to have a juke box built along the lines of a Sherman tank loaded with Hank Williams, Mother Maybelle Carter, Johnny Horton, Johnny Cash and twenty other crooning goobers nobody ever heard of. The damn thing has to have "La Bamba", Herb Alpert's "Lonely Bull" and Johnny Cash's "Don't take your guns to town". The furniture in a real good liberty bar had to be made from coal mine shoring lumber and was not fully acceptable until it had 600 cigarette burns and your ship's numbers or "F**k the Navy" carved into it. The bar had to have a brass foot rail and at least six Slim-Jim containers, an oversized glass cookie jar full of Beer-Nuts, a jar of pickled hard boiled eggs that could produce rectal gas emissions that could shut down a sorority party, and big glass containers full of something called Pickled Pigs Feet and Polish Sausage.
Only drunk Chiefs and starving Ethiopians ate pickled pig's feet and unless the last three feet of your colon had been manufactured by Midas, you didn't want to get anywhere near the Polish Napalm Dogs.
No liberty bar was complete without a couple of hundred faded ship or airplane pictures and a "Shut the hell up!" sign taped on the mirror behind the bar along with several rather tasteless naked lady pictures. The pool table felt had to have at least three strategic rips as a result of drunken competitors and balls that looked as if a gorilla baby had teethed on the sonuvabitches.
Liberty bars were home and it didn't matter what country, state, or city you were in. When you walked into a good liberty bar, you felt at home. These were also establishments where 19 year-old kids received an education available nowhere else on earth. You learned how to "tell" and "listen" to sea stories.
You learned about sex at $10.00 a pop -- from professional ladies who taught you things your high school biology teacher didn't know were anatomically possible. You learned how to make a two cushion bank shot and how to toss down a beer and shot of Sun Torry known as a "depth charge."
We were young, and a helluva long way from home. We were pulling down crappy wages for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a-week availability and loving the life we lived. We didn't know it at the time, but our association with the men we served with forged us into the men we became. And a lot of that association took place in bars where we shared the stories accumulated in our, up to then, short lives. We learned about women and that life could be tough on a gal.
While many of our classmates were attending college, we were getting an education slicing through the green rolling seas in WestPac, experiencing the orgasmic rush of a night cat shot, the heart pounding drama of the return to the ship with the gut wrenching arrestment to a pitching deck. The hours of tedium, boring holes in the sky late at night, experiencing the periodic discomfort of turbulence, marveling at the creation of St. Elmo's Fire, and sometimes having our reverie interrupted with stark terror.
But when we came ashore on liberty, we could rub shoulders with some of the finest men we would ever know, in bars our mothers would never have approved of, in saloons and cabarets that would live in our memories forever. Long live those liberties in WestPac and in the Med - They were the greatest! "Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, I SERVED IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY."