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...