Memory Flashes

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

IC Electrician Guy Peto always kept a Windex spray bottle filled with Varsol in his side locker. You see, he had a new bride… When we came in, after we doubled up all lines and put our brow over, Peto pulled out his Varsol loaded Windex bottle and sprayed the front of his blues.

"What the hell you do that for?"

"Last year, I slow danced with some honey in Montevideo. When I got home, Jill swore she smelled perfume in my blues. Damn if I'm gonna hop in that trick bag again anytime soon."

Jack Snider "Sonargasket" from Arizona or New Mexico. Our sonar shack was below the control room… Jack damn near lived in there… All by himself, in a space the size of an average linen closet. He made hand-tooled leather stuff down there, since listening with headphones left his hands free. Jack had great ears… Used to brag that he could hear tick farts in Tokyo. When he wasn't making wallets, pocketbooks, holsters, moccasins, belts and other stuff… He was sorting out sounds.

One night, Jack opened the manhole cover to the shack. The diving officer closed it, so no one would inadvertently step into the opening, fall in and wreck Jack. Immediately it flew open again.

"What the hell's wrong, Jack?"

"Mr. Caldwell, I had three helpings of lima beans tonight sir and can't stand it down here in this jack-in-the-box hole, living with the post consumption by products of those limas… Just had to share it with my shipmates."

Within minutes, it became evident that he had a major methane production problem.

Dusty Hamilton, Nebraska, was engaged to hometown girl who wrote letters… Perfumed correspondence that read like pages torn from a nymphomaniac's logbook. Intended for Dusty's eyes alone, they were read aloud to a devoted fan club that would assemble in the crews' mess for the dramatic reading of each installment.

"I miss you so, Dusty… If you were here, I would…"

We were a long way from anything wearing a skirt and lacey skivvies… We loved it.

Barnacle Bill Jackson, torpedo pusher first… Returning from leave on Trailways bus... B.B. heads aft to use the little john in the rear of the bus… Parks himself on the head… Bus stops for a red light. Large truck bangs into rear of bus... B.B. slams into forward head bulkhead, compounds right arm while contents of head chemical tank erupt and cover him. Rescue people get him out and immobilize his arm. At some point, lady rescue technician gets a whiff of Barnacle Bill and recognizes what he is coated in.

"Oh sir, we've got to get you out of those nasty clothes."

"Don't worry about it darlin'… I've smelled worse. I'm a submarine sailor."

B.B. runs an auto supply outlet now and plays banjo in a hillbilly band. They never made a finer boat sailor.

New cook - will remain nameless, ordered catsup. Thought unit of issue was by individual bottle… Turned out to be by case. We are loading stores at 0730 for 0800 underway when we find ourselves up to our eyeballs in cases of catsup… Deck force loads excess onto a torpedo trolley… Goes to pier head parking lot and loads it into automobiles to store it until we return in two weeks. Stupid move… Becomes damn near impossible to get shore duty Dick Tracy force to understand that crew had not conspired in wholesale catsup theft. I never figured out what these shore duty geniuses thought we were going to do with sixty cases of catsup… We finally convinced them to start worrying when we tried to get out the gate with five tons of hot dogs and a couple of truckloads of buns.

We all have 'em… Boat memories. They return at weird times when you are in the company of people who would never understand, much less believe them.