Little Eddie and the Khaki Gloves
By: Garland Davis
I have another uniform story involving “Little Eddie.” Eddie was a radioman. This nickname came about because of his diminutive size. He was barely five feet tall and weighed slightly over 100 pounds. Because of his size and his cherubic good looks, he appealed to the girls like a turd does to flies.
The ship was at the Army port of Sattahip in Thailand and a group of us Chiefs were in the NCO club at another nearby Army base. A bored go-go dancer was on stage doing her routine and Eddie, having drank a few beers too many, was on the dance floor a few feet in front of her dancing. When she finished the song she took Eddie by the hand and led him behind the curtain. After a few minutes, overcome with curiosity, I went to the stage and looked behind the curtain. All I’ll say is that Eddie was upholding the high standards expected of a Chief Petty Officer by the members of the Mess.
We were in Yokosuka for an SRF availability. I remember it was in the fall, possibly November or even December. The weather was chilly; a jacket was definitely needed to run the Honch in the evenings. The Commodore of SERVRON 3 was scheduled to be in Yokosuka and a walkthrough of the ship and a personnel inspection would be held.
In addition to the availability, there was the XO and his incessant demands that field days be conducted to prepare the ship for the Commodore’s visit. Which, as you all know, field day level cleaning, yard birds and availabilities are not compatible with each other. We were all sure the Commodore had seen a ship in an availability before.
The personnel inspection would be in working uniform. E-6 and below would be in dungarees and working jackets and Officers and Chiefs would wear working Khaki with the khaki windbreaker. In those days, we were all still wearing brown shoes. But the story isn’t about shoes this time.
A group of us were in the Mess the evening before the inspection, Eddie enters, carrying his khakis that he had just bribed the laundrymen to wash and press for him. He said, “Well, I’ve got my uniform all ready to go.” As he went into the berthing area. After a couple of minutes, he came back in and asked whether piss cutters or combination covers were the specified cover for the inspection. Of course, it was combination covers and we told him so.
Eddie brought his combination cover, sat down at a table and began to change from a white to a khaki cover. The Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate asked, “Hey Eddie, do you have your khaki gloves ready.”
A sudden look of panic came across Eddie’s face. “Khaki gloves, I don’t have any fucking khaki gloves. I never bought any. Being home ported in Pearl, I didn’t think I would need them. Where the fuck can I get khaki gloves this time of night? Do you think any of those shops on the Honch sell khaki gloves?”
Boats says, “I doubt it. There isn’t much call for them. I’ve been a Chief for thirteen years and this is only the second time I have ever needed them. But you should have bought a full seabag, Eddie. You never know when you will need something. But, I tell you, I’ve never seen any gloves in those shops.”
“What the fuck am I going to do? Maybe I can borrow a pair from a Chief on one of the other ships.” Eddie moaned.
“Look at your fucking hands Eddie. They look like kids hands. You get a pair of gloves that are too large you will look like shit when you salute the Commodore to present your division. Remember the shoes.” Boats replied. “The best thing you can do is make some khaki gloves.”
“How do you do that?” Eddie asked with an expression of hope.
“Soak a pair of white gloves in strong black coffee,’ from Boats.
We could barely keep from laughing as Eddie bolted into the berthing compartment, returning in a minute with his white gloves, he proceeded into the CPO galley and began making a fresh pot of coffee. Once it was finished, he poured it over his white gloves in a small steam table insert.
“How long should I soak them Senior Chief?” Eddie asked.
“Probably about a half hour should be enough.” Said Boats.
Eddie did as Boats recommended and after soaking the gloves laid them on the counter to dry. If there was ever a need for khaki gloves, the result would have probably been acceptable.
The next morning as we assembled in the Mess before leaving to fall in on the pier, Eddie came in from berthing properly dressed and wearing his khaki gloves. We couldn’t hold it any longer, the whole mess burst out laughing. Finally, between bouts of laughter, Boats said, “Eddie, there ain’t no such thing as khaki gloves.”
After a minute, Eddie joined in the laughter saying, “You mother fuckers owe me a pair of white gloves.”
A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.