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.