Parkinson’s Disease and Dill Pickles

Parkinson’s Disease and Dill Pickles

By: Garland Davis


Parkinson’s and Dill Pickles don’t have a damn thing in common except beer.

Most of you who read the crap I write know that I have Parkinson’s disease. It is a progressive disease that usually manifests itself after age sixty and becomes progressively worse as one ages.  There is no cure and it is basically a death sentence. The brain stops producing a neurotransmitter, in the central nervous system, that is necessary for conscious control of muscular movements. Most muscles that are controlled unconsciously are not affected, i.e., respiration and heartbeat.   There are a number of suspected causes of Parkinson’s: genetic, environmental, exposure to certain chemicals, i.e., dioxin (Agent Orange), head trauma, i.e., Mohammed Ali, early onset PD, i.e., Michael J. Fox.

I said most muscles “unconsciously” controlled are not affected.  One exception is peristalsis.  Peristalsis is a gentle muscular movement of the digestive system that moves food through the digestive system from the esophagus through the exit door.  As the disease progresses taking a crap becomes both a chore and a distinct pleasure.  A good laxative becomes your friend. The doctor gave me some stool softeners and told me to drink more water.  I told him that I didn’t have a problem pissing. With my prostate problems, I had to piss too often already.

Most medical research is focused on slowing the progression of the condition rather than a cure.  Although there is some research on biometric markers that would enable doctors to identify those people most likely to manifest the disease.

I subscribe to a number of medical newsletters, always on the lookout for new research and newly developed or discovered medications that may ease some of the symptoms and complications of the disease.  I grasp at any straw that may bring relief.  Consequently, I take a plethora of supplements and vitamins.  About the only things I wouldn’t try are eating chicken, seafood or liver and practicing homosexual sex.  I’m up for anything else that will help.  (Oh yeah, except snakes and spiders too.)

Now to get to the reason I told you all this interesting crap. Most of the literature tells me that Parkinson’s patients shouldn’t drink.  It is a muscle disorder.  Basically a person loses control of their muscles.  Arms and legs don’t do as directed and just lie there and tremble or they just freeze.  That is usually when I fall on my ass.  The medical literature tells me that as the disease progresses a person will experience falls.  I can attest to this.  I have fallen down and then fell three more times just trying to get up.

The Doctors and Movement Disorders specialists warn against drinking alcoholic beverages.  The prevailing wisdom says, “If you have PD, you are going to fall. If you have PD and drink, you are going to fall harder and more frequently.”  I can attest to this, as can many of my shipmates, who were there when I made a spectacle of myself by falling ass and tea kettle over a table and a half dozen chairs at the second Asia Sailor’s reunion in Branson. This resulted in a number of my shipmates acting as an “Honor Guard” to escort me to my accommodations. That is one of the features offered at our reunions.  A number of us have had Honor Guard escorts to our rooms. I also took advantage of an escort at the latest reunion.

After a few spectacular falls, I finally came to the realization that it is time for me to “Hang Up My Cup.” You know, abstain from imbibing intoxicating liquids.  I won’t really miss it.  Well, I will miss the beer.  Love me some beer.  And Crown; oh yeah, Captain Morgan; don’t forget Pusser’s; gin, love me some gin, although it makes me crazier than a shithouse rat; beer, love that light beer; wine, you cannot enjoy Italian food without wine; an occasional Jack; did I mention beer?

So I made the decision to join the ranks of the teetotalers.  I am dry country.  Jut coffee, water and milk for me.  The strongest thing that will pass my lips will be diet Dr. Pepper.  I quit smoking, I can do this.

Now I am not a religious person. I have friends who believe in a savior and an afterlife, others who believe that we are recycled or reincarnated, and others who believe that this is it and there is nothing but blackness beyond this life.  I always figure that we all will find out one day. Those in the first group often point to events that can only be described as “miraculous” as proof that a divine power controls everything.

Yesterday, my shipmate Jerry Juliana and some others posted an article to FaceBook that details wonderful new research that shows Parkinson’s patients may benefit from drinking beer.  I immediately did a “Tim Tebow”, I took a knee in appreciation.  As the article states there are elements in hops (let’s hear it for the hops!) that may delay or reverse the progression of the disease.  The obvious fallacy in their research was use of the word moderation.  I follow the philosophy that “if a little is good, then a lot is better.”  So I bought a modest amount of beer to begin my new medicinal routine. I am now the proud owner of ten thirty packs of Bud Light.

I do have some reservations.  I read an article once that said smoking marijuana helped with the bradykinesia (shaking).  So I scored a baggie from the local stoner and fashioned a cute little pipe from some copper tubing and other fittings.  I packed it with a bud and fired her up.

Now, I cannot say that it helped with the Parkinson’s but it temporarily solved my dislike of dill pickles. Now, there is a place for dill pickles, preferably alongside a delicious Pastrami on Rye with a side of potato salad or coleslaw. Now, I love pastrami sandwiches!  I would crawl naked over Kate Winslett’s nude body for a good pastrami on rye. That’s right, you can always make out with Kate, but it is extremely hard to find a good pastrami sandwich.

To make a short story longer, I spent forty-eight hours that afternoon watching the movie “The Comancheros” on TV while eating a half gallon jar of dill pickles. I could have fixed something else to eat but I was paranoid about missing any of the movie.  I even considered using the pickle jar when I had to pee.  I forgot that I had DVR’d the movie and could pause it any time I liked.  When the commercial came on, I would run to the head and piss for an hour or two and then run back to my recliner, convinced that I had missed half the movie because it had taken so long to piss only to find the bears still extoling the qualities of Charmin asswipe.

But to get back to the beer.  Damn, my wife says seven-thirty in the morning is not the time to drink beer.  I tried to explain that it wasn’t drinking, it was medicating.  She said in moderation, there’s that word again, two or three beers before bed.  I asked if she meant three beers before sleep.  She said yes.  I feel better now, I usually take a nap in the morning and a nap in the afternoon.  Now I am trying to figure a way to sneak another nap in to my daily routine.

What does she know about medicine?  I know much more about medical matters than her. I spent much of my childhood studying medicine and anatomy with the girl who lived down the road.

But I have a plan, I tell my wife that I am a participant in a study to document the effect of drinking beer on my PD.  All I have to do is keep track of the number of beers that I drink and the effect it has on my PD symptoms.

You know she just ain’t buying it.

FedEx brought a rush package last night.  It was frozen pastrami that I ordered from a New York deli. Maybe I can talk her into making me a Pastrami sandwich.  Everyone knows that you cannot eat a pastrami sandwich without dill pickles.

And beer!


The Weight of Our Years

The Weight of Our Years

By: Garland Davis


For a time, the old men would tell of years and wars past…

Stories and laughter among a forest of empty bottles

scattered in a graceless pack across the table.


Rain filled the darkness outside the window,

and the tables filled with memorabilia abetted the

desperation with which they yearned for those long gone days.


Reluctant to leave the companionship, once again

found for a few days at the spring reunion

and held close in that bitter pall of tomorrow’s leaving.


But, the thrill of our shared derangement, and stories

true and not that evoked both joy at remembering

and sadness, knowing that one cannot go back.


The old men remain, with their lives caving in around them,

crushed by the weight of years  and lost among memories and bottles.



My First Date

My First Date

By:  Garland Davis

Let me tell you about my first date.  It was with a girl who lived almost directly across the river.  I had known her my whole life.  We were the about the same age, although, I think she had a couple of months on me.

We played together as children.  As a matter of fact, for about six years, between the ages of five and eleven, I had it in mind to be a doctor especially when she was around.  I never missed a chance to give her a physical.   She helped me greatly with my studies of anatomy.  I worked extremely hard on the study of gynecology.  From our medical experiments I think she was seriously considering becoming a urological nurse.  About the time we hit puberty, the study of medicine became uncomfortable for her and she brought an end to my doctoral studies.  Fortunately, I had a couple of other patients who also helped me continue with my studies.

And now I was going to take the girl on a serious boy/girl date.  Her house was across the river.  The Yadkin was extremely shallow at that point and it was possible to wade across and barely get your ankles wet as long as you knew about where the two deep drop offs were.  If you stepped into one of them then you were asshole deep in muddy water.

I was supposed to meet her at her house at seven o’clock and walk her about a quarter mile to the barn where the dance was being held.  I tell you, I was as nervous as a long tailed cat on a porch with seven or eight of my aunts in rocking chairs.  I took a bath, and it was only Friday.  I had laid out my clothes for the date.  I had a pair of blue jeans that fit just right and were just the right length when rolled up about an inch.  I had a new striped shirt, just like the one Elvis wore on the Ed Sullivan show and a new half inch wide belt just like all the other boys were wearing. I shined up my penny loafers and laid out a pair of brand new whiter than white socks. With that shirt collar turned up in back I would be “knock-them-dead stylish.”

I probably used about a half tube of Brylcreem (you know, they still make that greasy shit, available from Amazon)” getting my hair just right.  I had this little curl above my right eye, you know, like Superman.  Nothing I did could make that hair stay in place. I could paste it down and within a minute it would be hanging over my eye.  I thought about cutting it off but was afraid it would look strange. Later after learning that girls thought it was cute, I accentuated it.

I liberally splashed my dad’s Old Spice on and got dressed.  The choice I had was to wade the river and take a chance on getting wet.  Those two deep holes sometimes moved. Or I could walk a mile and a half up to the bridge and then walk a mile and a half back to her house.  The third choice, I could ride my bicycle to her house and leave it there while we went to the dance and it would be available for me to ride home.  I figured if I rode slow, I wouldn’t get so sweaty and stinky before I got to her house.

I set off on my bike, pedaling slowly so as not to work up a sweat.  I got to her house about quarter to seven dry and still smelling sweet.  Her dad was sitting on the front porch whittling on what looked like a stick of stove wood, chewing tobacco and spitting off the edge of the porch.  Seeing him there, I could feel the sweat suddenly running down my spine. He yelled through the open window, “Betty, yer boy date is out here!”

He turned to me and said, “Now boy, you have her back here by ten o’clock.  Not a minute later.  She’s my only daughter, no fooling around and treat her with respect.  Do you understand what I’m sayin’ here boy?

Yes sir, Uncle Jake,” I replied.




By:  Garland Davis

Our ship was in Mombasa for a week. The Special Services Officer had set up a two-day camera safari in the Nairobi National Park which is unique as a protected area for a wide diversity of animal life. It is a successful rhino sanctuary and has an excellent record for supporting the species.

Since I had never been interested in the beer drinking and womanizing of my shipmates, the Chaplain’s assistant, a radioman that everyone suspected of being light in the loafers, the newest Ensign, and I signed up for the tour.

There was a tented camp within an enclosure where the tour overnighted. After dark, I was sitting outside my tent having a smoke listening to the animals in the night. The tour guide was also smoking before bed. He was in the tent beside me. He was telling me the names of the animals creating the sounds.

Suddenly there was a rumbling noise that shook the ground. Alarmed, I asked what it was. He said, “Not to worry. They are going the other way.”

“What is it?”, I asked.

“An elephant stampede.”, was his reply.

“Why, what causes them to stampede?”, I asked him.

He replied, “Probably some son-of-a-bitch upwind opened a can of peanuts.”



Little Eddie and the White Shoes

Little Eddie and the White Shoes

By:  Garland Davis

Eddie was a Radioman.  He was known as “Little Eddie” because of his diminutive size. He was barely five feet tall and weighed about ten pounds or so over a hundred pounds.  What was obviously a handicap in a bar fight became a positive advantage when it came to the ladies. They all loved Eddie and seemed to want to take him home and probably breast feed him like the baby he resembled.  He not only had a small body, he possessed a dimpled round baby face and a shock of almost white curly hair.  The bar girls just couldn’t keep their hands off him.  When he was serving in the old “Dicky” B Anderson, a bar girl in Kaohsiung fell in love with him and followed him all over town.  Eddie didn’t like her and tried to avoid her.  His shipmates would, laughingly, tell her where to find him. She burst into a hotel room while he was there in bed with another girl.  This caused the “cat fight” that became legendary throughout the squadron.

Because of his size, issue uniforms didn’t fit Eddie properly.  He looked as if he was a child attempting to wear his big brother’s clothes. Eddie had had his dress and working uniforms tailored in Hong Kong and Subic Bay.  He wore a size six shoe and usually had to special order them through the uniform shop.

Years later and in another ship Eddie was now a Chief Radioman.  His problems started with a new Captain.  The previous C. O. had a heart attack on the Navy Marine Golf Course at Pearl Harbor and was hospitalized.  The Executive Officer assumed command pending arrival of a new C. O.  After a few days, the new Skipper arrived.  He came aboard, told the X.O. to muster the crew in the well deck.  Before the crew was completely assembled, the Captain read his orders went to his cabin with the X.O. in tow.

The ship’s Bosun and I had been in the same boot camp company and were quite friendly.  He told me the new C. O. had been X. O. of the Kitty Hawk and had a real hard on for Chiefs.  We surmised that somewhere in the Captains career a Chief had fucked him over and he retaliated against any Chief who crossed him.

The next few days were busy with inspections of the ship by the Captain and briefings by Department Heads and Division Officers.  The X. O. scheduled a personnel inspection for Monday of the following week.  Eddie had been in the ship almost two years and bragged that he had never attended a personnel inspection.  He always dreamed up some reason to avoid the going.

The C.O. learned of Eddie’s boasts about not attending inspections and sent word to Eddie through the Division Officer that he would not only attend this inspection, but every inspection for as long as either of them were aboard.  Eddie wasn’t worried about the inspection. His wife washed and pressed his best white uniform and he cleaned and polished his white shoes in preparation. Everything was fine until Sunday afternoon when he came home to discover that his dog had chewed one of the shoes.  He didn’t have time to special order new ones.  He just decided to stop by the exchange and buy the smallest size they had.  A size or two too large didn’t matter.  He had worn oversize shoes most of his life. He rushed in, found a shoebox labeled “size 7 ½ and bought it without looking inside.

The morning of the inspection, the brown baggers were coming aboard with spotless uniforms in plastic covers and shoes in boxes and bags to protect the shine.  Little Eddie came into CPO berthing hung his uniform on his locker and placed the shoebox on his rack and went to have breakfast.  With a pristine uniform and new shoes, he had this inspection in the bag.

After breakfast, we started dressing for the inspection.  The berthing area and the head were crowded with all of us showering and getting dressed.  Suddenly there was a scream, Eddie was standing there yelling, “Oh, fuck me, No!  Fuck no!”  He had a white shoe in each hand.  Both were left shoes, one a size seven and the other a size twelve.

It was probably cruel, but I busted a gut laughing.  I laughed so hard, I almost passed out. The whole CPO mess fell apart.  Everyone was in stitches laughing.  All Eddie could do was stand there with a shoe in each hand and say “Fuck, I am fucked” over and over, as if it were a mantra.

The Senior Chief BT didn’t have to stand the inspection and, through fits of laughter, offered to loan Eddie his white shoes.  The BT’s nickname was “Brute.”  He was as large as Eddie was small.  Brute wore a size twelve shoe.  Eddie snatched at the straw being offered.  He stuffed the shoes full of socks and crammed his feet in and laced them as tightly as possible.  A comical sight indeed.  He could hardly walk without walking right out of the shoes.  He tore up newspaper and stuffed it in around his ankles. He was finally able to totter around slowly.  His ankles looked like swab handles standing up in two mop buckets.  Everyone broke down again.

The Chiefs proceeded to the pier trying to hold back the fits of laughter as Eddie clomped along trying not to walk out of Brute’s shoes.   It had been decided that the LPO’s would present the divisions and the Officers and Chiefs would fall in as distinct groups.  I think that was the most difficult time I have ever had maintaining military decorum.   Every time I thought of Eddie holding those two disparate shoes and yelling, “Fuck me!”, I almost broke down laughing.

When the Captain reached the Chiefs, everyone was at attention looking straight ahead.  I knew if anyone giggled, the whole group would dissolve in laughter.  I think not laughing was one of the hardest things I ever did.  The Captain moved through the ranks looking at each Chief, sometimes stopping to ask a question. When he reached Eddie, he stopped and stood there for a minute, then asked, “You want to tell me about the shoes Chief?” Then he broke down and started laughing.  The picture of this little Chief in the humongous shoes got us all started again. Any observer would have taken us for a group of mental cases, sans strait Jackets or a bunch of marijuana stoners on a laughing jag.    Eddie was the only one not laughing. He actually had tears running down his cheeks.

After the inspection, we were in CPO berthing, changing into work uniforms when the Communications Officer came to the door.  He had a message for Eddie from the Captain.  Eddie was excused from all future personnel inspections.


The Dreaded Colonoscopy

The Dreaded Colonoscopy

By: Garland Davis

As a person reaches into the fifth decade of life there comes a hurdle that we all are faced with.  The doctors have prescribed it until it has taken on the mantra of a rite of passage to older age.  I am talking about the dreaded colonoscopy.

It usually begins when your doctor asks if you have ever had the procedure done.  The doctor’s next step is to convince you that your health and possibly your very life depends upon another doctor shoving a flashlight and camera up your ass after inflating your guts like a balloon.  Panicked, I was ready to not only say no, but fuck no, until the doctor explains that they will sedate me and I will sleep through the whole procedure.  Relieved, I readily agree, figuring it will probably take a couple of months to get an appointment.  That will give me some time to talk with all the other old farts and get the low down on medical ass invasions.

As luck would have it, as I am preparing to leave, the doctor’s receptionist tells me that she called in my referral to the Colonoscopy section.  I am indeed fortunate, they have a cancellation Friday and I am already scheduled for the first thing that morning and must stop by for a pre-colonoscopy brief.  She tells me the clinic is just one level up and I can stop by on my way out.

I reluctantly wander into Colonoscopy (I am thinking so this is where doctors manage the health and wellbeing of assholes).  The nurse gives me a paper to fill out. I am sure you have seen similar ones.  They ask the same damn questions at every clinic in this freakin’ hospital every time you visit.  They have spent millions on computerizing medical records and still no one has this simple information at hand.  They ask you to list the medications and supplements that you are taking.  I suspect that no one reads these. I have been writing “Horseshit Capsules 200mg” under supplements for two years and no one has ever questioned me about it.

The nurse gives me a Digital Video Disk that explains the procedure. It turns out to be a cartoon about guts and an asshole.  She tells me that I may keep it.  She gave me a bottle of laxative and says drink this entire bottle, twenty-four hours before the scheduled event.  Next she gives me an empty gallon jug, no wait, there is about a cup of powder in it.  She instructs me to fill the jug with water and refrigerate it.   She recommends improving the flavor with Kool Ade or Crystal Light.  Eighteen hours before the exam, I was to drink half the jug as quickly as possible.  I wanted to ask if I could mix it with beer.  I would have a better chance of drinking a half gallon of beer quickly. She didn’t seem the type who could see the humor in that, so I kept my mouth shut.  Then twelve hours before the procedure I was supposed to empty the Jug.  You guessed it, as soon as possible.  I still think beer would be easier.  She also tells me not to eat anything for at least twenty-four hours before the exam.

Since I am scheduled for eight Friday morning, I eat breakfast at seven Thursday, figuring it will be at least a day before I can eat again.  At eight, I shake that bottle up and gulp the nasty crap down.  They said don’t eat.  Didn’t say anything about coffee. My gallon jug of water, powder, and lemonade flavor Crystal Light had been in the reefer for over a day.  I would have to drink half of it at two in the afternoon and the remainder at eight this evening.

I was reclined in my chair dozing and listening to a talk show on the radio.  Suddenly, I was hit with an excruciating pain in my lower regions.  My wife almost fainted when I jumped bolt upright, tearing at my belt as I ran for the toilet.  The only thing I can say is “Holy SHIT!”  I thought it would never stop.

My grandmother’s punishment for what she termed “little boys full of meanness” was a “good working out”, by which she meant a dosing with an elixir called Syrup of Black Draught or the dreaded Castor Oil.  My grandmother believed that a periodic purging made little boys much better behaved.  You know, she was right.  After a dosing of her laxatives, I was too weak to get into any mischief.   I’m glad that she never got her hands on this stuff.

After I thought I had survived the bottle of laxative it was time to drink a half gallon of the chilled liquid, which I reluctantly did.  At the time I would have bet you there was nothing left in my digestive system.  Boy was I wrong.  I never lost eye contact with the toilet for the next six hours when, you guessed it, time to drink the next half gallon.  I told you it was refrigerated.  It was still ice cold when I flushed it away.  I spent the next twelve hours within arm’s reach of that toilet bowl.  I was hoping the stock of toilet paper held out through the night.  I know they had to call in extra staff for the third shift at the waste water treatment plant.

Finally, morning came and time to leave for the Medical Center.  My wife came with me to drive me home because I would be under the influence of drugs, otherwise they wouldn’t release me for twelve hours.  I carried extra underwear and shorts.  I knew I was going to shit myself during the seven-mile drive to the hospital.  Fortunately, we made it to the first toilet inside the hospital entrance without a mishap.

Arriving at the Colonoscopy Clinic, I was handed a robe, a pair of paper slippers and told to go into a cubicle and get undressed.  There was a room with a TV where my wife could wait. I did as instructed and reported back to the desk.  I was directed into a curtained off area with bright lighting, a hospital type bed, and some tubing and other incomprehensible instruments.  I was instructed to climb onto the table.  The nurse wrapped a rubber band around my arm and put a blank IV lash-up into the inside of my left elbow.  The doctor come in and introduces himself.  He tells me to position myself on my left side.  He said we put the IV in to administer the sedative and in case I tear the colon and we have to take you up to surgery. “Surgery,” alarms bells were going off in my mind when the nurse said, “Now you will get a head rush from this,” and everything went black.

The next thing I remember is waking up with an almost painful need to fart.  But after my experiences during the past twenty-four hours, I was afraid.  The recovery room nurse told me, “If you feel the need to pass gas, go ahead, it is just the air used to distend your colon.”

From the sounds coming from the other patients in the recovery area, for a moment, I thought I was back in CPO Berthing on that old DD I served in during the end of the Viet Nam War.  I thought Oh, well and cut the absolute most satisfying fart I have ever experienced.

The nurse eventually told me I could get up and get dressed.  I did so thinking that maybe the preparation was worth the drugs. Oh! No! No fucking way.  There is no way anything could be worth twenty-four hours of trying to shit my tonsils.

I was told to wait in the room with my wife and the doctor would see me with the results soon.  It was twelve noon, my last meal was twenty-nine hours ago, there was nothing solid between my tonsils and my rectum.  I felt as if I had missed breakfast, dinner, supper and midrats.  I was as weak as a kitten. The TV was on the Food Network.  I don’t eat chicken but if someone had offered me fried buzzard that looked as good as what Bobby Flay was displaying, I may have had a piece or two.  I was so hungry.

The doctor finally called me in and started showing me photos of my innards.  He complemented me on the cleansing job.  As if I had had a choice! He told me that there were no polyps and I wouldn’t have to repeat the procedure for ten years.

I had her stop at McDonalds on the way home.  I bought and ate two Big Mac meals before we got home.

My next colonoscopy is only two years away.  Just thinking about it takes some of the happiness out of a Happy Birthday.




A Day To Remember

A Day to Remember

By: Garland Davis

Everyone who was old enough to remember can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. It happened at 1:30 PM CST November 22nd.  It is the once in a lifetime event that one does not easily forget.  The country went into shock.  Some schools closed.  Some companies shut down for a few days.  People as a whole were stunned.

I was half a world away.  It was 1:30 AM on the morning of November 23rd in the Western Pacific.  I was aboard the USS Vesuvius, an ammunition replenishment ship, anchored in Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines.  At 3:00 AM, the crew was awakened and the Commanding Officer made an announcement over the ship’s announcing system.  He told us that the president had been killed and as a precautionary measure, the fleet would sortie at first light.  The warships would go first and us supply ships would follow once they had cleared the bay.

At the time, no one knew the circumstances of the assassination.  There was speculation that the Soviets had been involved in reprisal for the Cuban Crisis.  The fleet went to sea expecting Soviet Submarines to be waiting.  I stood on deck and watched the warships leave.  I counted 18 cruisers and destroyers.  I can assure you that they went to sea locked and loaded.  As soon as we cleared port, the destroyers were lining up to top off their magazines from us and their fuel tanks from the tankers.

Later that day, one of the carriers that had been inbound for Subic Bay, came along side to top off her stores of five hundred pound bombs.

We stayed on alert for a week or two and then settled back into routine operations.


A day to remember.





By: Garland Davis

It was an unwritten code of the sailor: never stand when you can sit; never sit when you can lie down, and never stay awake when you can sleep.  This was never truer than when providing gunfire support to Army and Marine troops engaged with Viet Cong insurgents or North Viet Army regulars.

Between watch standing, General Quarters, refueling, re-arming, stores unreps, and added bullshit from topside, there was little time to get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Add water hours and the seeming monotony of the meals, powdered fucking milk, the same shitty movies, and the ship store out of every cigarette brand except out dated, unfiltered Luckies it was amazing that morale did not go completely to shit.

The clammy incessant heat drove everyone to seek whatever cooling comfort that was available.  A-gang machinist mates frequently needed to get into the reefers to check the internal temperatures.  Everyone was begging the cooks for a little ice.  Giving in to them would have meant no ice for the bug juice at the meals. The bug juice sucked, but it made the fuel oil flavored water drinkable. The fucking galley serving ice cream and all the fucking bowls were hot from the scullery and melted it before you could reach the table.

Meet your closest shipmate in a passageway and greet him, he either returns the greeting, tells you to fuck off, or completely ignores you.  Tempers were on edge.  Added to the mix were the racial tensions and anti-war sentiments of the country seeping into the fleet.  Real and imagined remarks, slurs, and treatment were causing problems.  Capable CPO’s, able LPO’s and knowledgeable Officers were often busy diffusing situations. Situations very often, caused by my some of fellow CPO’s and some dumbshit Junior Officers.

Even with morale in the shitter, with black and white sailors distrusting each other, hippies and dope smokers trying to drop out, there was still a sense of camaraderie in the crew.

The ship suffered a casualty in Mount 51 and the something to do with breechblock needed replacement (I don’t remember the exact details).  This was categorized as a two to three-day yard job.  While the officers were busy sending messages to whomever and re-planning firing missions, the GM1 with assistance from the BM1 and the A-Gang MMC set about changing the breechblock assembly.  The Gunnery Officer, upon discovering this told them to stop, that they couldn’t do it. It was a yard job.  GM1 went to the Weapon’s boss and told him that he thought it could be done at sea if the rigging was right and that the BMC and BM1 were available to handle that.  The MMC would provide tools and the HT’s would weld fittings needed for the riggers.  He and the Weps Boss went to the CO.  The Old Man listened and told them to give it their best shot.

During the next forty-eight hours, the whole crew came together to offer help and support any way possible.  All the animosity and slights seemed to drop away.  We were all shipmates. To shorten a long story, we went back on the gunline two days later with mount 51 in battery.

Finally arriving in Subic, a few days liberty and many of the slights and disagreements forgotten, we were ready to go out and do it again.  We were young and did things we were not supposed to be able to do.  We did them because we did not know we couldn’t.




Warm Green Sea

Warm Green Sea

By:  Garland Davis

condition three steaming, napping at a table,

thrown across the mess decks, our body slams a table,

we’re rocked backward, forward, side to side,

to the sound of metal rending, to the sound of explosion,

like a voice out of hell, just opened somewhere far and near

hours and minutes pass,


the deck steadies, we scramble to our feet,

the general alarm sounds, running feet, screaming,

flashlights, smoke, someone moaning,

emergency lighting, bodies flung into a corner,

yelling for corpsman, take control, get stretchers,

bodies moved toward medical, fire hoses,


flashing lights through the window, not a window,

hole in the bulkhead, guns firing, more explosions,

world heels as ship moves, high speed turn,

toward the gunfire, shouldn’t we go the other way,

lighting returns, tables torn asunder,

deck red with blood, firing stops, start cleaning detail


gunfire stops, ship slows speed, try to secure tables,

captain is there, questions that I answer,

through tears tell of bodies and blood,

the corpsman takes my arm, settles me into the stretcher,

the blood, dripping off my fingers,

staining my clean deck, sleep comes


i lie, a flag as my cover, a weight at my feet

man with a cross at my head, words said,

board tilts, slide down,

warm green sea embraces me


Chief Petty Officers

Chief Petty Officers

By: Garland Davis
 We weren’t aware of it at the time but it became evident as life wore on, we learned our greatest lessons and true leadership from the finest examples any young man could ever have… Chief Petty Officers.

They were crusty old sons of bitches who had seen and done it all.  They had been forged into men and had been time tested through World War Two and the Korean Conflict over more years than a lot of us had time on the planet.

They wore coat and tie uniforms, but could change into dungarees or wash khaki and do a task better than anyone aboard.  But it wasn’t their job to do the work.  They were there to insure that you knew how to do it and did it properly.  And if you didn’t do it right, they could come on like the hind wheels of hell.

They usually had a cigarette or cigar in their mouth and a cup of coffee, if not in their hand, within reach.  Ashore the coffee was replaced with a mug of beer.  You only saw them aboard when you needed tweaking and you seldom saw them ashore. They rarely talked to you unless you were the PO1 when they handed out assignments.  They would stop and correct you if they saw you doing something wrong and you felt as if you had grabbed the Brass Ring when one of them stopped to compliment you on your uniform or the job you were doing.

Many of them had tattoos on their forearms that would cause a cathouse madam to blush. Most of them were as tough as midrats steak.  But they had to be tough to survive the life they had lived.  They had been formed in the crucible of the wars in the Pacific and off Korea, in the months at sea watching for submarines and enemy bombers, of fighting off Kamikaze attacks off Okinawa, sweating depth charges at two hundred feet, or freezing on the flight decks off Pusan.  They were and always will be, a breed apart from all other mortals inhabiting this Earth.

They took us seventeen and eighteen year olds and hammered and filed us until we fit in the round holes, in other words they turned us into sailors.  Sailors who could think for themselves and react as one when the situation required.

Chief Petty Officers didn’t have to command your respect. You respected them because there was nothing else you could do.  They were God’s All Stars on the oceans.

They were hard core bastards who called it as they saw it and found no problem with the term ‘Jap’ to refer to the enemy that had visited us at Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning  in 1941 and whom they had taken an ass whipping to.  In their day, ‘insensitivity’ was not a word in a Chief’s lexicon.  In their minds were memories of lost shipmates and they cursed the cause of their loss. They were expert at choosing descriptive adjectives and nouns, none of which their mothers had taught them.

I remember Chiefs with two rows of ribbons that meant something.  Atlantic Theater, Pacific Theater, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and many Purple Hearts.  There was a Chief Corpsman with the Navy Cross. I heard that he went ashore with the Marines at Okinawa. He was always directly behind the Captain at personnel inspections.  When I was at NAS Lemoore, there was a Chief Cook with a fully loaded Submarine Combat Patrol Pin.

I would marvel at the ribbons and ask, “Hey Chief, what’s that one and that one?”

“Oh Hell kid, I can’t remember. There was a war on. They gave them to us to keep track of the campaigns. We didn’t get a lot of news out where we were. To be honest, we just took their word for it. Hell, you couldn’t pronounce most of the names of the places we went… They’re all Kamikaze survival geedunk. This one is for standing in line at a Honolulu cathouse. Listen sailor, ribbons don’t make you a sailor. We knew who the heroes were and in the final analysis that’s all that matters.”

When a Chief called you ‘Sailor’ and accepted you as a shipmate, it was the highest honor you would ever receive in your life. At least it was clearly that for me.

They were not overly conscious of their position.  You could find them with their sleeves rolled up in a working party.

“Hey Chief, you don’t need to be out here, we can handle this shit.”

“We all got to eat and the term ‘All Hands’ means just that.

They mentored and trained us. Not only us, but hundreds more just like us. If it wasn’t for Chief Petty Officers, there wouldn’t be any United States Navy.

There was no magic that could make a Chief Petty Officer.  They were created from deck swabbing, mess cooking, head cleaning seaman and matured in steel hulls of U.S. Fleets over many miles and years.  Nothing that a seventeen year old smart ass could cook up was original to a Chief.  They had seen E-3 assholes come and go.  They could read you like a book.

“Seaman Davis, I know what you are thinking. Just one word of advice… DON’T. It won’t be worth it.”

“Aye, Aye Chief.”

You don’t thank Chiefs.  No more than your dog thanks you for making him sit or roll over for a treat.  You learn to appreciate what they did for you and who they were from the long distance of years.  You don’t take the time to recognize his leadership.  That comes later when you have experienced poor leadership or when you have the maturity to recognize what a leader should be.  The Navy Chief Petty Officer is the standard by which you measure all others

In those days there was no CPO Academy or leadership training.  Their education came at the end of an anchor chain and the handle of a swab, or as first loader on a 3 inch 50 during the battle of Okinawa.  They gave their lives to the United States Navy.  Airdales, Black Shoes and Bubbleheads will claim that their Chiefs are best.  Let it be said that we don’t have to differentiate, Chief Petty Officer is all I need to know.

So when we get our final PCS orders and we get to where the celestial CNO assigns us, I don’t know that there will be Marines guarding the streets, but I hope there will be an old Chief in stained wash khakis, a cigar stub in his teeth, standing at the brow to assign me a bunk and locker.  We will be young again and the fucking coffee will float a rock.

Life kind of stacks the deck, by the time you grow old enough and smart enough to recognize those you should have thanked along the way, it is too late.  If it were possible, I would thank my old Chiefs.  They would be amazed that they had succeeded in pounding enough into my thick skull make me a Chief Petty Officer also.

I give my thanks to you old crusty, casehardened, Sons-a-Bitches.  Save me a seat in the Mess.