Light and Shadow

Light and Shadow

By:  Garland Davis

 

A misty haze spreads

across the wakes of

ships in formation

as dusk raises blue shadows.

 

The day melts away

in a twilight of fire

losing the flame

to a mist of smoke.

 

Stars and constellations

flame above in the night

as the horizon takes day’s light.

I find comfort in the sounds

of water and the ship’s muted noise.

The splash of fish that fly

as they fall back to the sea.

 

These things from the days of youth

cause me to lament that one

can never go back to the life before.

 

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.

 

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My Dog’s Plan of the Day

My Dog’s Plan of the Day

By: Garland Davis

0400-Hold reveille on the Guy so he can guzzle four cups of that foul smelling coffee before taking him for his morning walk.

0405-Take before walk Nap.

0530-Stretch and start reminding the Guy that it is almost time for his walk.

0600-Take the Guy for walk

0605-Go back to the house. The Guy forgot the pick-up-crap bags.

0610- Resume interrupted walk and begin the search for anything that smells like it needs to be pissed on.

0630-Take a crap and wrap the leash around the Guy’s legs while he is trying to pick it up.

0635-Go the route you have decided upon.  Disregard the Guy’s input.

0710-Return home. Sniff the butt of the other dog in the house.  She may have come into heat.

0730-Have breakfast.

0731-Have the other dog’s breakfast.  If you snooze you lose.

0731-Lick the places where that bitch bit me.  Lick my dick while I am at it.

0732-Drink water. Dribble it all over the hardwood floors.

0735-Take after breakfast nap.

0900- Get up turn around and settle down for before lunch nap. Take this nap under his desk while he tries to write.  Pass gas when necessary.

1100-Remind the Guy that it is time for Doggie Treat Lunch.  Eat

1119-Go out in the yard and whiz.  Check the other dog again. Could heat up any minute.  Ever vigilant.

1130-Take after lunch nap.

1430-Take the Guy for his afternoon walk.

1445-Take before dinner nap.

1700-Dinner.  Don’t eat.  That drives the Guy crazy.

1715-Take after dinner nap.

1800- Sit and stare at the guy for fifteen minutes.  He goes insane trying to figure what I want.

1900-Take the Guy for his evening walk.

1915-Take after evening walk nap.

2000-Play with the Guy

2015-Do the sit and stare thing again.

2030-Taps.  It has been a rough day.

 

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.

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Changes

Changes

by:  Garland Davis

Life gets weird when you try to take it seriously.

Beat someone to death with a fire ax, get convicted, and sent to prison you will end up with a room, your own rack, a window, fresh air, regular hot showers, movies, and television.  In addition, with the current state of American justice, you would be out in eighteen months to two years.

If you rode old Fletcher, Gearing, and Forrest Sherman class tin cans and old swaybacked Cruisers out in Asian waters, you got very little of that. People in prison were living a lot better than you were. Hell, they probably got enough blankets and didn’t have to steal them from each other to keep from freezing to death or didn’t have to wear a kapok jacket to keep from drowning in their own sweat.

Also, they never missed things.  They had radio, TV, newspapers and were kept abreast of things happening in the world.

We couldn’t. Oh, the Radiomen got news sheets sometime with shit that no one cared about, you know, the scores of soccer matches in England and who won the polo game.  The kids begging for Pesos or trying to get you a date with their sister in Olongapo knew more about what was going on in the world than your average Asian sailor.

We lived in a world where day and night were controlled by watches, painting, and cleaning, general quarters, refueling, rearming, another watch, and was that midrats or breakfast that I just ate.  If you were a seaman or fireman life became damn near meaningless because everything you did was controlled by an entity know as Petty Officer. And, somewhere, we lost our link with the civilized world. In short, the world passed us by and we were content with that, we had found a new, more exciting world.

For most of the sixties, I lost touch with baseball.  It had been one of my passions growing up.  I started losing my excitement for the game when the Dodgers left Brooklyn and I was getting closer to seventeen and could enlist.  During most of the sixties, I have no idea who won the series, what happened to Old Gold cigarettes and what happened to those latex girdles, you know, the ones that were impossible to get past in high school. And when did they stop making that ugly assed Edsel.  I remember when Kennedy was shot.  I was in Subic and Vesuvius sortied with the fleet.  We were ready in case the Russians had been involved. I read about the first man on the moon a month or so after the landing although someone had told me about it.  I remember hearing about and then becoming very involved in a place in Indo-China known as Viet Nam. How, why and when is still fuzzy as hell.

They told us that the economy was poor.  The only thing we knew about economics was if you spent money on a short time, then you had less beer money and vice versa and that the operators of the ‘slush funds” were greedy mothers.

You would come into Subic and find yourself dining on monkey and San Miguel in some dive and someone would say something like,

“Hey, shipmate what do you think of Muhammad Ali?”

“Who the fuck is Muhammad Ali?”

“You know, the heavy weight boxing champion.”

“I thought Cassius Clay was champ, when did this Ali character kick his ass?”

“No, Clay and Ali are the same.”

“I’ll take your word for it, honestly, I haven’t got any idea what you are talking about. Hey, honey give us two San Miguels here”.

“Jeezus, man where in the hell have you been?”

“At sea, out on the ocean… Ask me anything about dirty laundry, water hours, sweating your ass off, powdered fucking milk and seagull shit and I’m your expert.”

It’s not that we were stupid and totally unconcerned, it was strictly a matter of access. If you grow up living in a metal box, the only thing that matters is when the son of a bitch who opens the lid shows up.

Then someone would ask, “Any you guys ever heard of a place called Vet Namy or something like that?”

“Nah, where the fuck is that?”

“I got a letter from my Mom.  She says that the Commies are trying to take it over and that Ike signed a thing that said we would help them and Kennedy sent some Army dudes there.  It’s over here in Asia some fucking place.”

Then the Chief would come in with his cigar spreading ashes and say, “Hey, it ain’t here by the geedunk and it ain’t in the mess decks.  Knock off the bullshit…toss them soda cups in the shitcan and haul your worthless asses topside before I plant this brown shoe in your rectum.

We averaged nineteen in age.  You are expected to be dumb at nineteen and not know what is happening in the world.  Hell, everyone expected you to be unconnected.  You could make Third Class and have no fucking idea how a zipper worked.

The first time back in the States after a Tour in Asia or a protracted WestPac cruise came as a rude awakening.  When you left for the Pacific Rim, George Jones was an icon in country music and Elvis was the king of Rock and Roll.  The first day back in the “world” your friends asked if you had heard the latest Beetles.  This left you wondering, “why the fuck would you be listening to a bunch of bugs?”

Then your best bud from High School comes in with his hair down below his ears.  You immediately offer to loan him a few bucks.  He really must be a loser if he can’t afford a haircut.  Then you see other guys and think that you must have missed something somewhere.  You were wondering, “is every dude I know queer.”

When you left for the orient all the dudes had flat top haircuts and girls wore bras, saddle shoes or penny loafers, and smelled sweet and were saving the pussy for their future husband.  By the time you returned to the states, guys had hair hanging half way to their asses.  The girls were going barefoot, without bras, wearing dirty tie-dyed skivvy shirts, smelled like an Olongapo pisser and would fuck anyone who could stand the smell.

You found yourself hoping that the Tincan you had orders to in San Diego would be leaving for WestPac and recall that you were overjoyed to learn that it was to be forward deployed to Yokosuka.

After spending eight years in Asia, you never caught up. Never understood poor personal hygiene… Looking like bums… War protesters… Psychedelic anything… Dope… Gene McCarthy… Hubert Humphrey… Gremlin cars… A whole lot of stuff. I’m still twenty fucking years behind.

But the Navy gave us a home, shipmates who would become closer than your family, and a load of great memories of tough times spent in conditions that only we could understand. Asia sailors, in the words of John McCain, understood the concept of serving a cause greater than one’s self.

Somehow, the world changed.  We didn’t.  We couldn’t.

 

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.

 

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Retirement

Retirement

By:  Garland Davis

“All three of my ex-wives were good housekeepers.

The first one kept the fucking house.

The second one kept the fucking house.

And the third one kept the fucking house.

……Buddy Hackett……

 

“Dave, after having to give my ex fifty percent of my retirement pay and then paying child support on top of that, I am left with fourteen fucking dollars and eighty-seven fucking cents every month”

….Charles Nathan Fulfer….

 

I was a Navy Master Chief Petty Officer assigned as Command Master Chief of a Submarine Squadron in San Diego.  This was my twilight tour and I would be retiring from the Navy in a few months after thirty years’ service.  My relief was already ordered aboard.  Everything was ready for the turnover to him.

I have been married twice.  The first wife was a shipmate’s sister, a lovely girl I fell in love with when I stopped at his house in North Carolina.  I was on leave in Florida and he in North Carolina.  I was taking my car back to Connecticut and had promised to pick him up for the ride north.  I arrived at his house a couple of days early.  During the three days before we left, I fell madly in love.

Within a year we were married.  I arranged duty on a boat home ported in Norfolk so she could be near home.  She actually lived with her parents when I was deployed to the Med or on patrol.  We drifted through eleven years of marriage.  No children and no real problems.  I was at sea a lot and we just naturally grew apart.  The divorce came as no surprise to either of us.  I had received orders to a Pearl Harbor boat.  She just didn’t want to go that far from home.  The divorce was amicable.  She made no demands on me other than her rights to half my retirement pay.  I had no say in the matter and couldn’t refuse.  She was entitled to it by law.

I had nineteen years in when I married my second wife.  It was also her second marriage.  She had been married to a Chief on a skimmer.  She had caught him with another sailor’s wife and divorced him in, what I came to understand, a very acrimonious and contentious splitting of the sheets. We had, I thought, a good marriage.  She was helpful and supportive of me and my career and interacted well with the other wives after I was appointed COB on my first boat. Although, at times she could be a real bitch when things didn’t go the way she wanted.

After a tour of shore duty with TRE in Pearl and another boat, I came to the squadron in San Diego for a final tour before retiring.

I was just coasting when the Commodore called me in.  He told me that the COB (Chief of the Boat) of one of our deployed boats was being relieved for sexual improprieties.  It is unfortunate that the politicians have decided that open homosexuality is permissible in the services.  The Commodore asked me if I would fly to Yokosuka, Japan and act as interim COB for an approximate forty-five-day patrol.

My first reaction to the Commodore’s request was excitement. A chance for a final liberty in WestPac, a chance to ride a boat one last cruise, and a couple months’ sub-pay.  I would come back to San Diego to a retirement ceremony and sixty days’ terminal leave.  I had a tentative job offer at the local ship building company. My wife and I were planning a month’s vacation driving and sightseeing the country.  She was enthusiastic about it.  I accepted the assignment and went home to tell my wife and pack.

She wasn’t happy that I had accepted without talking with her first.  I explained to her that I really didn’t think I had a choice and I wanted to experience one more trip in a submarine.  After all, it was what I had done and done well for the majority of my life.  I explained that the extra money would help finance the trip we had planned.  She reluctantly accepted the fact that I was going. I was flying from San Diego to Los Angeles and then on to Tokyo the following morning.

She wasn’t happy and that evening showed her displeasure as only a woman can.  The farewell the next morning was cold.  I took a taxi to the airport.  She refused to drive me.

I arrived in Yokosuka and reported to the boat.  My wife’s displeasure and her reaction to my going were driven from my mind in the last minute preparations for sailing.  There were stores to load, berthing assignments, duty assignments, qualification checks, battle station assignments, a thousand things to do or oversee.  And then we were at sea.  After clearing Tokyo Bay, we pulled the plug and were, for all intents and purposes, isolated from the world for the next fifty days.

Now the surface ships have e-mail and limited telephone service that enables the members to maintain almost constant contact with family.  Submarines do not have that luxury.  We anxiously await, what in this modern day, is termed snail mail.  We arrived in Yokosuka and mail bags were waiting on the pier.  I wasn’t expecting mail, since I was only aboard temporarily.

After completing all the tasks of entering port and ensuring that watch bills were correct and the watch was set, I met the Master Chief who was to become the permanent COB of the boat.  Only an abbreviated tour was necessary.  He had served as the A-Gang LCPO on the boat before.  He assured me that he had it and I could go make a call to my wife.

A telephone was available in the CPO mess.  I dialed the numbers to my home only to get the message that the number was no longer in service.  That can’t be.  I tried again and got the same message.  What the fuck.  I called my neighbor and friend down the street.  He answered and I asked if he knew why my phone wasn’t in service.  He told me that my wife had divorced me in an uncontested divorce.

I caught the first flight to the states and arrived in San Diego about noon.  Taking a taxi to my house, I found that my keys no longer worked and no one answered the door.  As I walked toward my neighbor’s house, two police cars stopped and one of the officers asked my name.  I told him.  He said you will have to come with us.  I was taken to the main police station and informed that a Temporary Restraining Order had been issued forbidding me from communicating with or going within a hundred yards of my ex-wife or my former home.

The same day I left for Japan, she had contacted the lawyer from her previous divorce and filed two days later.  Letters notifying me and letters setting court dates were all sent to my address at the squadron in San Diego.  Expecting nothing important, I had instructed them to hold my mail until my return.  Her lawyer rushed everything through the divorce court.  Since I didn’t appear in court to contest the divorce she was granted everything she asked for.  She was given the car and the house with the provision that I continue the payments until the mortgage was satisfied.  She was also awarded a substantial alimony.

All my pay was deposited to a joint account.  I went to an ATM to withdraw money only to find that there was a minimum balance and no funds were available.

I found all my uniforms and clothing in the storeroom at the squadron.  I moved into the CPO quarters at the base.  I was broke, no place to live after next week, and every dollar I would earn for years obligated to paying her divorce demands.  I contacted a lawyer who told me it could be undone, but it would take time and lots of money.

After the retirement ceremony, I learned that she and her lawyer filed a claim to fifty percent of my retirement pay.  My first wife also filed for fifty percent of it leaving me with zero percent. No retirement pay and alimony and house payments equaling more than I could possibly earn.  I was between the proverbial rock and a hard place.  You know, I have never understood what things would drive a person to suicide, but, that day  I seriously considered it.

I owned a few acres and a house in Florida that my folks had left me. She must have forgotten about it.  I called a realtor friend there and made arrangements for a quick sale.  I was able to stay in the CPO quarters during my leave.  Once I received the funds from the sale of my property, I bought a one-way ticket to Honolulu.  Arriving there, some friends helped me get a job with a government contractor.  The salary wasn’t enough to cover my court ordered obligations to her so I just ignored them.  I went in to work one morning to find that there was a court order to garnishee my pay and I was being fired for not disclosing these obligations when I was hired.

After being fired I spent a couple of months drunk, living in a cheap hotel. After the Florida money ran out I sobered up with no job, no money, and no place to live.

That was two or three years ago.  I now live in Honolulu under a Nimitz Highway bridge.  I have long hair and a beard, I get my clothes from the free bin at one shelter, I eat at another homeless shelter when they are offering food.  I beg for money to buy my daily bottle of whisky.  I will smoke pot if it is offered, too expensive for my circumstances. I have often been tempted to try the stupor of harder drugs, but so far have resisted.

I told this story to that young college girl who was doing a study on why homeless people become homeless.  I think I told her everything.  It gets harder and harder to remember.  Sometimes I am not even sure if it really happened or if it is my imagination.  Maybe I just made it up because she gave me five bucks.  I’m not sure…..

“Hey Buddy, you got a dollar or two so I can get something to eat. I would appreciate it.”

 

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Driving a Taxi

Driving a Taxi

By: Garland Davis

In a second life after retiring from the Navy, I was in the taxi business as both a driver and the owner of a taxi leasing company for twenty years between 1992 and 2012.  I met some characters and found myself in some strange situations during that period.

Many people think that taxi drivers are presented with opportunities for sex with a myriad of women.  The truth is diametrically opposed to that belief.  I can think of three instances where I was offered sex by a customer.

The first was a hooker.  She was going to her “stroll” near the Army facility at Schofield Barracks.  Since she made the trip often, she knew the fare was twenty dollars.  As she got in the car she proffered a twenty and asked, “Is twenty enough or I can give you a blow job.”  I took the twenty, you don’t let anyone that unattractive see your junk, much less touch it.  Well, I guess it would depend on how much you had to drink.

The second time was a guy.  I picked him up at his home and was taking him to a gym when he asked, “Did you ever do anything homosexual?”  He got pissed when I laughed at him and sulked the rest of the trip.

The third time was a Navy wife.   I picked her up at a club.  She gave me an address in Navy housing.  On the trip, she said, “When we get to my house, park your car and come in and we will party.”

I got pissed and said, “Your husband is really lucky.  He probably has the duty or is deployed and you are out drinking and fucking taxi drivers!  You make me sick.”

She then yelled at me, “He doesn’t have the duty.  He is out fucking another guy.  He should be home fucking his wife.  He is a fucking queer!”

When we reached her house, she paid me and said, “Aren’t you coming in?”

I told her, “No get out of the car.”

She was standing in the middle of the street, in Navy housing, at about eleven PM, yelling, “Fuck You,” at the top of her voice as I drove away.

Taxi drivers are fair game for scammers.  Someone is always trying to con a driver out of a free ride or a reduced fare.  I picked two ladies up at a Jack in the Box late one evening.  The older lady showed me a fifty, told me that it was all she had and asked if that was enough to pay the fare to a housing development on the other side of town.  I told her yes, they got in and I drove them to the destination.  The development was a gated area.  Instead of going to the auto entrance, they asked to be dropped at a pedestrian entrance on the other side of the area.  One lady got out and went through the gate, the other handed me a folded bill and said, “Thank you, honey, keep the change.”  The fare on the meter was forty some dollars. She also went through the gate.  I unfolded the bill.  She had given me a five!

A number of drivers were scammed by a guy who would walk up to a stand and take the taxi across town.  Upon arriving at his destination, he would tell the driver to wait and he would go into the house and get the money from his grandmother.  The door to the house not visible from the point where he had the driver park.  Some of the drivers talked with the lady who lived in the house.  She told them that the guy would arrive in the street go around the house and jump over her back wall.

The drivers got together and came up with a code word that could be passed when anyone had a fare to that address.  The dispatchers agreed to pass the code.  After a few days, the word came over the dispatch net.  To make the story shorter, when the dude jumped over the wall, he was met by five drivers he had cheated.  They kicked the shit out of him.  As far as I know, he gave up riding taxis.

In twenty years pushing a hack, I had one robbery attempt.  The fellow walked up to the stand where I was next up and asked how much it would cost to go out to the west side of the island.  I told him thirty bucks in advance.  He gave me three tens and wanted to ride in the front seat.  I caught the freeway and started west.  He then asked if we could pull off in a developing community so he could stop at a convenience store.  He told me he would give me another ten bucks.  So we stopped and he came out with a bottle of water.  To get back to the freeway, we had to pass through an undeveloped section of secondary roads.  He suddenly yelled for me to stop that he had to throw up.  As I came to a stop, He pulled a hunting style knife and told me to get out of the car.  I had a hand-held shortwave radio jammed between the seats.  I grabbed the radio by the antenna and slammed him across the bridge of his nose with the body of the radio as I bailed out the door.  I went around the car and jerked the passenger door open.  He was bent over holding his nose.  I grabbed him by the collar, dragged him half out of the car and hit him again with the radio.  I told him to get face down on the ground or I would kill him.  I dialed 911 and reported the attempt.  When the police arrived, I told them what had happened and showed them the knife in the floor of the car. The officer walked over to the guy, lifted his face up, looked, and said, “Junior, you just got paroled out of prison a couple of days ago.  Looks like you going back for the full term plus.  I kicked his ass and still had his thirty bucks.

Druggies will do anything and spend any amount to get their drug of choice.  I once went on a call where the lady asked how much it would cost to make a round trip to town and back.  I told her sixty dollars.  She pulled four twenties from her pocket and gave me three of them. The druggies knew that going to that neighborhood, payment in advance was required.  We made the round trip, she paid me sixty dollars to go buy twenty dollars of meth.

The scariest incident with a druggie happened early one morning.  I answered a call for a pick up in a residential area.  When I arrived at the house, I didn’t see anyone.  I tapped the horn and a guy came out of the shrubbery, ran jumped into the car and said, “Hurry go, they are following me.  Take me downtown.”

I asked where downtown did he want to go.  He said just drive and gave me a hand full of money.  He told me not to talk to the dispatcher that he didn’t want me sending coded messages to the dispatcher about his destination.  After we entered the freeway, he started yelling for me to pull over.  I stopped and he jumped out of the car for a minute and then climbed back in.  I asked him why.  He told me he was making sure there were no helicopters following us.

As we moved out he seemed to settle down.  A little later he told me to take him to the Pacific Marina Inn, a seedy hotel in the airport area.  I was happy with the change, it saved me a trip to town and got him out of the car faster.  Right after he changed the destination, the dispatcher told another driver to go to the Pac Mar for a pickup.  When he heard Pac Mar, he started yelling, “You sent a coded message! Stop, let me out.”

I slowed and pulled to the edge of the freeway as he got louder.  I was afraid he would try to attack me, but he jumped out of the car, ran across the freeway and started climbing the fence into an Army housing area.  The trip was worthwhile.  He had given me over one hundred thirty dollars when he had gotten into the car.

I met a few celebrities driving a cab.  Another driver and I were sent to carry the Platters to the airport one morning.  We each carried two of them.

I carried many pro football players who were in Honolulu for the Pro Bowl over the years.  Lousy tippers.

I carried Eddie Albert to a Japanese restaurant one evening.

I drove Michelle Wie and two sets of golf clubs to the airport one morning.  Tall girl.

Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 1993, about four in the morning, I was in Waikiki hoping to get a tourist load to the airport, when a portly gentleman flagged me on the main street through Waikiki.  I stopped and waited while he got into the car.

He asked, “Is there someplace we could get breakfast?”

As soon as he spoke, I recognized the voice.  I said, “Uncle Buck!”  I had John Candy in my cab.  I told him there was a Denny’s nearby.

He said, “Let’s go.  I’ll buy you breakfast.  I hate to eat alone.”

I try to be funny and I enjoy making people laugh.  John Candy and I hit it off.  I spent a pleasurable two hours with him laughing and joking.  He finally told me he had to go to a PR thing.  I dropped him at his hotel. I thoroughly enjoyed and treasure that two hours at Denny’s.

I was saddened a few months later when I learned of his death.

A truly funny man!

I only had one accident while driving.  It was in ’97.  I was on the north side of the island.  Cell phone communication was rather sketchy on that side.  I found a place where I had enough service to call the dispatcher and pulled off the road to make the call.  As I was on the phone, a drunk driver rear-ended me, totaling my car and knocking me unconscious.  I woke up in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.  If you must have an accident, get hit by a drunk driver with GEICO Insurance.  They paid and paid.

There are many more stories that I could tell.  Sometimes driving was boring and monotonous and other times it was fun.

The one thing I learned driving a taxi.  I hate driving in stop and go traffic, but I don’t mind it nearly so much when the meter is running.

 

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How I Became a Navy Cook

How I became a Navy Cook

By: Garland Davis

After boot leave, I reported to NAS Lemoore for a one-year “special tour” of shore duty.  I was a member of the initial crew or ‘Plank Owner” of the station.  There were a number of us just out of boot.  We became mess cooks and coop cleaners.  I spent my first three months as a mess cook and the subsequent three months in the CPO quarters as a compartment cleaner.

I had requested to become a cook while mess cooking.  My request was approved with the condition that a vacancy exists in the Commissaryman staffing.  Being a newly commissioned base, all billets had been filled and no such opening existed.

I was advised by one of the cooks to be persistent.  He advised me to take out the CS 3&2 course and do it.  He told me that this would show that I was serious and had a legitimate desire to become a Commissaryman.  I completed the course with an almost perfect score.  I submitted another request to go to the galley and was told that I could go back as a mess cook.  The galley CPO, learning that I had civilian experience as a baker and because I had completed the course, assigned me to a bakeshop watch, although I wasn’t officially a striker.

I had completed all the courses for SN and Military Requirements for PO 3&2.  I had also completed the Practical Factors for advancement as high as CS2.  I went to  I&E (Information and Education) Office and requested the CS1 &C course.  I was an undesignated SN. The PO3 told me that I could not take the course because I was just a Seaman.  I knew the I&E CPO from my days as CPO coop cleaner.  I asked to see the Chief.  The Chief listened to my request and told the PO3 to order the test.  He said that if a member had completed all the other requirements, they should not be restricted from studying a rate.

As my current tour as a mess cook was ending, I requested to strike for cook again. The request came back approved by the station XO with a notation to transfer me to the Subsistence Division.  It also included the statement: “I admire SN Davis’ initiative; completing requirements for the CS rate and advancement as well as his persistence.”

The same day I officially became a cook striker, I completed a dream sheet for my next duty.  I requested duty in San Diego, Hawaii and San Francisco (I hadn’t yet learned the joys of WestPac).  A few weeks later, I learned that BUPERS dropped me to ServPac for assignment to a ship. My fellow cooks told me that this meant that I would get orders for a supply ship. I admit disappointment.  I had envisioned a stately cruiser or a dashing destroyer.  My orders eventually arrived for USS Vesuvius AE-15, home ported in Port Chicago, California.  My friends in the galley were either telling me that ammo ships were good duty or how fucked up they were.

My checkout sheet came and I started the rounds getting initials ending at the Personnel Office where I received an envelope with my records and a set of orders telling me to report to USS Vesuvius at Pier 62 in San Francisco.  The ship was in a yard overhaul.  I had forty-eight hours to report.

Before leaving the galley, the Chief CS told me that he had made sure that a recommendation for CS3 was in my record.  He said that it might help me get into the galley aboard ship. He also told me that since I was non-designated, I might end up in deck force regardless, especially on an UNREP ship.

I took the Greyhound bus from Hanford, CA to San Francisco.  The Shore Patrol booth at the SF bus station directed me to a bus stop where I could take the Hunter’s Point Bus which would drop me a half block from Pier 62.  I caught the bus and was very nervous as we neared the stop.  There was a sailor on the bus with a Vesuvius patch.  I followed him to the shipyard gate, where they checked my orders and called the Quarterdeck for an escort.  I remember walking down the pier alongside the ship.  The noise was deafening.  Needle guns and chipping hammers were resounding everywhere, it seemed.

Trying to remember the proper way to board a ship, I nervously saluted the stern of the ship and requested permission to board.  A Petty Officer took the envelope with my records and escorted me to the Personnel Office.  A BM1, wearing a Master at Arms Badge came to fetch me.  I learned later that he was the First Division LPO and stood Duty MAA.  He escorted me and my seabag to a berthing compartment, pointed out a locker and a top bunk, gave me a fartsack, a blanket and a sheet.  He told me to stow my gear, make up my bunk and he would return in a bit and take my peacoat and seabag to their respective lockers.  He also told me that I would be in deck force, to change to dungarees and get ready to go to work.

I think my head was spinning.  This was all coming at me so fast.  The BM1 returned and took me up to a deck force gear locker on the main deck, gave me a chipping hammer, showed me what to do with it and left me in there to chip all the paint off the rear bulkhead.  It is amazing that I am not stone deaf today from the cacophony of hitting a metal bulkhead in a space as small as a coat closet.

He eventually came to tell me that the workday was over.  He told me to get into clean dungarees.  He said after the yard period the Uniform of the Day would be whites or blues after working hours but dungarees were fine in the yards.  A galley barge was moored aft of the ship.  He told me the galley hours and left me on my own for the day.  I went to the barge for supper.  I tell you, I sure wanted to be behind that chow line with the cooks.  That was a big ship; I hoped that I wasn’t expected to chip at paint for the rest of my days.

When I got back to the berthing compartment, I met some of the men in the division.  A cook at Lemoore had cautioned me about some of the people who would approach me.  He told me that often the fuck-ups were looking for company because the others would not have anything to do with them. I remembered this warning.  As an LPO and Leading Chief, I always tried to help new men meet the good people.

No one had said anything about liberty or a liberty card.  It didn’t matter. I had no idea where to go anyway.  About 20:00 the BM1 brought my seabag and told me to pack.  I was moving to the supply berthing.  I was going mess cooking.  He led me with my gear to the aft berthing and introduced me to a CS3, told me he would see me on deck in three months.

Talking with the CS3, I told him that I worked in the bakery at Lemoore, was recommended for CS3, and wanted to come to the galley permanently.  He explained the ship’s policy that all non-designated personnel went to either Deck or the Fireroom for at least six months before they could strike for a rate.

I went to work on the Galley Barge the following morning.  The CS1 came rushing in asking me if I was the SN that had completed the CS 1&C course.  I told his yes.  He asked if I wanted to strike for cook.  I told him yes.  He told me that we would be moving the galley back to the ship in a week and coming out of the yards the following week.  He said wait until we were back at Port Chicago and put in a chit to strike.  He said that in the meantime, I was assigned to work with the cooks in the galley.

I was working washing pots and pans and doing cleaning duties in the galley with the cooks after we moved back aboard.  The bakeshop, located just forward of the galley was not in use.  The ship was ordering pastries and desserts from a civilian bakery while in port.  One of the cooks said it didn’t matter, the baker had transferred and they didn’t have anyone else who could bake.

The CS1 told me to submit my chit to strike for cook.  He told me not to get my hopes up.  The XO was adamant that every non-designated SN serve for at least six months on deck force before permitting them to strike for a rate other than BM.

The following Saturday morning, after the bakery delivery, the CS3 watch captain was upset because the scheduled Apple Pies for Sunday evening dessert hadn’t been delivered.  Actually, the Chief had forgotten to order it. I told him that I could bake pies.  He sent me into the bakeshop and I baked the pies.

Monday morning, the CSC comes storming into the galley asking for me.  He was carrying one of the pies that I had baked.  He asked me if I had baked it.  I told him yes and asked if something was wrong with it.  He told me no and asked where I had learned to bake.  I told him that I had gone to a bakery vocational school and had worked in the Bakeshop at Lemoore.  He told me that I was now the ship’s baker.  I told him I am a mess cook.  He told me that he was on his way to talk to the Supply Officer about my status and left with the pie in his hand.

I had been the baker for about a month, when the Supply Officer came into the Bakeshop and told me to go shift into the Uniform of the Day and come to the Supply Office.  We were going to see the XO about my request to strike for cook.

I rushed down to berthing, grabbed my razor, washed my face, shaved and changed into my best undress blues.

The CSC, the SO and I went up to the XO’s stateroom.  He called us in, told us that he was considering my request.  He had my record open on his desk. He asked the Chief and the SO about my performance and behavior.  He looked through my record, appeared to think for a minute, and started to tell me that although I had been doing an excellent job in the galley he was not going to approve my request because of the ship’s policy that all non-rated SN spend at least six months in Deck Force.

At this point, there was a knock on his door and the ship’s CO stuck his head in the door and asked, “What’s up XO?”  The XO explained to the CO that he was counseling SN Davis on the ship’s policy about strikers.  The CO turned to me and asked, “What are you doing now?”  I told him that for the last month I have been the ship’s baker.  Surprised, he asked, “Did you bake those breakfast rolls this morning?”  I told him that I had.  He turned to the XO and said, “We have had some excellent bakery products recently.  I think we can make an exception in this case.”  He turned back to me and said, “SN Davis, you are now a cook striker and the ship’s baker.”

And that’s how I became a cook.

 

 

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Seabag

Seabags

By:  Garland Davis

The Army calls them Duffles, the Air Force probably calls them luggage, to the Navy and Marine Corps they are known as seabags. Seabag is a multi-use term to describe a sailor’s accumulation of uniforms and related clothing items, as well as the unwieldy canvas bag designed to transport them.  Since females are now an integral part of the fleet, I would assume the term is sometimes used to describe some of the less attractive women who now call themselves sailors.

The seabag is designed to adequately hold a sailor’s uniform gear when rolled and tied properly. Most sailors I know accumulated more than the minimum number of uniforms and peripherals required by Uniform Regulations.  And I never met a sailor who remembered the proper way to roll his clothing or the proper way to pack a seabag any longer than it took to pass through the gates of the Recruit Training Center after graduation.  Most of my shipmates and I are practitioners of the “Cram” method of packing a seabag.

Even using this method, packing a seabag was an art.  For instance, you are getting transferred to another ship at 0800 so naturally you stagger back aboard at 0630, eat breakfast, and start packing at 0715.  The only thing you remember from boot camp is that shoes go first.  You drop all your shoes in and start cramming shit in.     It takes some effort, but you finally get everything in except your dress blues.  It now being 0740, you hurry into your blues, slip your socks on and realize that your shoes are in the seabag.  Dump everything out on the deck, find your shoes and cram all that shit back into the bag.  You make it to the quarterdeck, dragging that heavy mother fucker and an AWOL bag up two ladders, just as the Petty Officer of the Watch strikes eight bells.  Five years in the Navy and still never been late.

Of course your new ship is at the pier furthest from the ship you are leaving, there is no on base transportation and your only choice is to lug the heavy mother fucker and your AWOL bag off one pier, all the way across the base, and on to another pier.  Well, you have until midnight to get there.

SIDEBAR: A blivet is known as a five-pound bag with ten pounds of shit in it.  A sailor’s blivet is a fifty-pound canvas bag with one hundred fifty pounds of shit crammed into it. END SIDEBAR

The damned thing is too heavy to carry with one hand and you need the other hand for the AWOL bag.  So you end up leaving the AWOL bag, carrying the seabag fifty yards, leave it to go back and get the AWOL bag, carry it fifty yards past the seabag, leave it and go back to get the seabag.  You repeat this until you finally reach the Petty Officers Club, where you are sure you can catch a ride to the ship.  It is Friday and if you report after working hours, they will probably cut you loose until Monday. If you cannot catch a ride, it will really be a long walk since you are now twice as far from your ship. (Yeah, a new ship becomes your ship that fast.)

So you spend the day drinking with shipmates and friends from other ships who managed to either get special liberty or who come up with urgent business at SRF, or medical appointments, and etc. for a few hours of stolen liberty.  You are introduced to a Skivvy Waver from your ship who offers you a ride to the ship after knock off ships work.  He carries the AWOL bag while you hump your seabag to his truck and then down the pier to the ship.  You are feeling lucky to catch a ride with a shipmate.  He tells you to get checked aboard and change into civvies and he will meet you on the Quarterdeck in forty-five minutes and you guys will hit the Honch and he will introduce more of your new shipmates.

The Duty Master at Arms is called to the Quarterdeck and told to escort you to the duty YN and get you a bunk.  The YN takes your orders and tells you to report to Ship’s Office at Commence Ship’s Work Monday Morning.  The MAA then takes you to the duty Machinist Mate to get you berthing.

Your luck suddenly goes shitty.  The ship doesn’t have an empty rack in engineering, so you will have to berth with the ET’s and Radiomen for four or five days until a bunk becomes available.  This means you will have to pack that fucking seabag again in a week to move or make a hundred trips carrying you gear from Fruit-Cup, berthing to Snipe berthing.  Probably the latter, anything is better than packing and lugging that son-of-a-bitch around again.

 

 

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Garland’s Deck Log

It is a tradition that many standing the first watch of the year, the midwatch on New Years Eve, rhyme the deck log entry for the watch. I wrote my log last year in rhyme. Here it is again. I am going to attempt it again this year.

Garland’s Deck Log Entry 2015
By: Garland Davis

Zero dark thirty New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day Already,
Can’t figure it out ‘cause I have been drinking steady.
To ring in what is supposed to be a better year,
But so far it has been the same old bull and will be I fear,
The days of boilers on line and mooring lines doubled,
Are in the past and of which we are no longer troubled,
Pour a shot of Crown and pop the top of another brew,
And here’s to a Happy New Year for the Asia Sailor crew,
Our wake is straight; our course for Branson is steady,
We hope this year that the Miller’s distributor is ready,
Many old and some new shipmates make the pilgrimage,
To the Westpac’rs Reunion while it is still the rage,
Make your reservations before it is too late,
Looking forward to seeing you there Shipmates.

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The Bridge

The Bridge

by: Garland Davis

It doesn’t seem so long ago that I crossed that bridge for the first time.  It was 1962.  A couple of hours at the club to get a buzz on before you hit the gate and crossed the infamous “Shit River Bridge.”  Your shipmates had told you about Olongapo and the one peso beer and the four peso shortimes.  You halfway believed them.  You really wanted to believe them. But could it be that easy?  They were right about liberty in Sasebo and Yokosuka.  There was no way liberty in Subic could be better than Sasebo.

Stopped at the on base money changer.  The exchange rate was P3.85 to one US dollar.  Supposedly you could get a better rate from the money changers across the river, but a lot of guys had been burned with worthless Japanese occupation Pesos.  Better safe than sorry.

With almost forty P’s tucked into the inside pocket of my white jumper, My watch in my pocket. (I had heard about the watch snatchers.) I headed for the gate only to be blocked by Marine Private brandishing a billy club.  He looked my uniform over, told me to square my white hat and asked how many packs of smokes was I carrying?  After he was satisfied that I was squared away and wasn’t going to wreck the Philippine economy with black market cigarettes, he motioned for me to pass.  I walked to the edge of the bridge to wait for my shipmates.

Suddenly I  was hit with a god awful smell.  Something like the combination of a leather tannery, a paper  mill, a landfill, and an overflowing shitter.  It was all I could do to keep from gagging.  I surmised that it was the odor of the much talked about Shit River.  They had damned sure named the son of a bitch correctly.  After a few moments, my friends satisfied the Marine Corps and joined me.  As we walked across, we looked at the boys in the water begging for sailors to throw coins, wondering why they still lived after swimming in that black viscous liquid.

The tales about the delights of Olongapo proved true.  It became a looked forward to port of call on many WestPac cruises.  Of course, there were other ports, the aforementioned Sasebo and Yokosuka in Japan and later Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, and Keelung.  They were all sailor towns and catered to the American sailor.

As the Viet Nam War dragged on, the economy of Japan and Hong Kong improved and they became less enjoyable and more  expensive than in the past.  New liberty ports were discovered in Singapore and a small fishing village in Thailand known as Pattaya.  All these ports were welcome interludes in the endless hours of flight operations, plane guard, gunfire support, constant rearming and refueling.  The cold drinks and the warm willing women healed us and maintained our sanity.

Viet Nam ended only to be replaced with Indian Ocean cruises.  A stop at Subic on the way into the IO,  if lucky,  a stop in Freemantle/Perth on the way out and, of course, Subic.

The one port, the one city that became the Asia Sailor’s Mecca was just across that bridge.  Olongapo and onward to the much more debauched, if that is possible, Barrio  and Subic City became the one liberty port that I looked forward to over all others.  I guess one of the best descriptions I have ever heard is, “Big Boy’s Disneyland.” I could do and did shit in Subic that they would put my ass in jail for in Oklahoma City.  Am I proud of all that I did there?  No.  Am I ashamed of some things that I did there?  Probably should be, but cannot find it.

Twenty-five years, eight Seventh Fleet ships and numerous trips across that bridge passed until I made the last trip across.  It was 1987. That time it was in a Special Service’s van to Clark AFB to catch a flight to Japan and on to Hawaii for my twilight tour before  retiring.

Sometimes when I am walking my dog in the mornings, I will see one of my young Filipina neighbors walking to the bus stop and catch the odor of a Filipino mother cooking their breakfast and I flash back to  the past and wish I could go back, Just One More Fucking Time!

 

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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.

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