The Snooze Hole

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

Below the walking deck in the crew’s mess, there was a storeroom known simply as the ‘dry stores hold’. It had racks for cans on each side and a place where you could stack boxes between them.

Cooks would yell to a messcook,

“Hey numb nuts… Drop down and toss me up six cans of bean soup.”

“Sure… Six cans, aye.”

Adrian Stuke, the naval authority on methods of goofing off without getting nailed, showed me the great potential of this place early in our association. He showed me how by leveling the boxes, you could create an area that when covered with a couple of foul weather jackets made a great place to catch a little ‘nobody knows where I am’ snooze… Something damn near impossible for an E-3 on a snorkel barge.

Only the skipper had a private location all his own where he could go to catch some ‘Zs’ all by himself. You know… A place where no one would put a foot wearing a stinking sock next to his nose on his way to an upper rack… And he didn’t have thirty guys snoring like hell all around him like a chorus of sea lions. But on the other hand, the Old Man had to wake up a steward if he wanted a snack… All Stuke and I had to do was reach over… Grab a can of peaches… Take our jackknives and knock the lid out of the can… Reach up and take the spoon Stuke kept hidden up near the bean cans… Eat the peaches… Lick the spoon off and poke it back with the bean cans. Kind of a E-3 ‘Breakfast in bed’.

The skipper had guys waking him up to give him his 8 O’clock fuel reports and tell him when contacts closed to within five thousand yards.

Guys would open the manhole cover and yell,

“Gahdammit Dex you loafing sonuvabitch… Toss up six cans of mushrooms!”

The skipper never got any of that. And, the Old Man didn’t have twenty or thirty idiots laughing and stomping all over his stateroom overhead at the good parts of the evening movie… And he couldn’t lay in his rack and read colorful can labels.

If you worked it right, it wasn’t half-bad being a qualified E-3… You just had to find the good life.