Toys

Toys

by: Garland Davis

While visiting a friend’s house recently, I was talking with his nine-year-old grandson about the boy’s possessions.  He showed me an I-pad, (required by the school he attends), an Android Smartphone, an X-Box, but told me he also wants a PS4 (whatever that is). He also told me that he plays lots of different games.     It took a minute before I realized he was talking about electronic games.  He doesn’t play any sports. His parents feel that sports are too rough and have discouraged him from playing football or baseball, although they did let him play soccer for a while.  Because they both work, they don’t have the time to take him to practice and games.  They don’t let him go out alone or with other kids his age.  He said that was fine with him, he would rather play with his X-Box or watch TV. He is pretty much relegated to the house and his electronics.  After a time, he excused himself.  He said he wanted to Skype a friend and watch a favorite program, Lab Rats, on the Disney Channel.

I believe today’s children are missing something in their life.  There are three parks within three miles of my house.  They are empty of children unless parents are with them. I got to thinking back to my childhood and comparing my yesterdays to their today’s.  It seems as if the kids of today are surrounded by high technology gadgets that waste/consume their time.  They play games about mad birds, candy drops, stealing cars, and Warcraft with their electronic toys.  They meet and talk with friends in the ether.  The only physical and personal interactions are at school.  I think this must leave a hole in their psyche.

The only electronic device that I remember from my childhood was the transistor radio but their cost of eight dollars was a fortune and outside the reach of a North Carolina farm boy.  The most sophisticated toy I had was a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun and it took years of begging before it showed up for my eleventh birthday.

During the fifties, a boy’s toys were ten cent yoyo’s, nickel bags of marbles, an old baseball missing its cover, and a bat with electrical tape holding it together where it had cracked.  We were envious of the guys that had gloves.  My uncle gave me an old glove that I repaired with electrical tape to make it quasi-usable. We would have loved a manicured park to use as a baseball diamond. Our playing field was the cow pasture (keep an eye out for the bull) and the bases were dried cow flops.  We were Duke Snider, Gil Hodges or Pee Wee Reese through many summer afternoons.  Yeah, that’s right.  We were all Brooklyn Dodgers’ fans.

I was eight years old when I saw my first television program.  I was nine when my Dad bought a used seventeen-inch TV from an uncle.  We could get two channels regularly. Sometimes we could get a third channel from Charlotte.  I guess the wind had to be blowing from the right direction to get it. Our TV watching was severely limited.  Chores, homework, and bedtime took precedence.   On rainy days, I remember watching the test pattern waiting for the National Anthem to start the day’s programming.  There was always the Saturday Game of the Week with Dizzy Dean.  It was extra special if they were showing the Brooklyn Dodgers.

My treasures were a fifty cent pocket knife, missing one side of its genuine plastic imitation bone handle.  After hours of working with my Dad’s whetstone, that knife was as sharp as a razor.

An old inner tube, a pair of discarded leather shoes or boots, some fishing twine, and a pair of forks cut from a sapling were essentials in the repertoire of a formidable weapon in the hands of a pre-teen boy.  The slingshot!

When in the woods, we were always on the alert for that most critical of components of the slingshot, the perfect sized branch that forked into a “V”.  It was best to cut the fork and let it cure before constructing the slingshot.  It was always good to have a backup weapon, in case the one you were using broke.  Every boy I knew had at least two standby slingshots.

With these slingshots we were ferocious hunters, roaming the woods, wantonly slaughtering birds, squirrels, and other small animals.  This is something that I now deeply regret and hope to be forgiven for someday.

I am not sure what modern day children are learning from their electronic world.  In the woods and on the baseball diamond, my generation learned to shake it off when you were hit with the baseball. We learned to function as a member of a team.  We learned leadership and how to function in a lead position, whether on a sports team or in the tobacco fields.

I believe, upon attaining adulthood we were better prepared for life than the coddled and sequestered children of the modern generation.

 

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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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XO’s I and CO’s Mast

XO’s I and CO’s Mast

By:  Garland Davis

 

The first CO’s mast that I ever attended was in USS Vesuvius as a newly minted CS3 and the accused’s immediate supervisor.  There were two people to be seen at Mast that morning, both for unauthorized absence.  The first miscreant was brought before the Captain.  He made the excuse that he had forgotten to set his alarm and had overslept.  The CO awarded him two weeks’ restriction to the ship.

My cook striker was brought in and stated the he drank too much the previous night and somewhere he had lost his neckerchief.  He stated that he would have made it to the ship on time, but the Marines at the gate held him up hassling him about an improper uniform.  The CO thought for a minute then asked me, the Chief, and the Division Officer about his performance.  After our replies, he dismissed the charges and said, “Son, the next time you go drinking, take better care of your uniform items.”

Yes, there was a time in the Navy when drinking too much could be used as a credible reason and wasn’t held against miscreants at Mast!

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In Midway, XO’s Investigation was conducted aft on the first deck, just aft of the legal office.  There was a large space just forward where witnesses and divisional representatives gathered and waited for their miscreant to be called.  There was usually quite a crowd and the wait could be protracted.  I was there with Red, an airdale AECS, waiting for our dirtbags to be summoned.  I usually attended because as Assistant Food Service Officer, I was rewarded with attending for each Cook and Mess Cook who was summoned.  Red and I were bullshitting when a brand new Ensign approached. He introduced himself and informed us he was the newest addition to B Division.  He was seeking advice on how to conduct himself as he had never before attended one of these functions.

Red immediately says, “Sir, the XO has to make a decision whether the person you are going with is guilty.  To do this, he needs as much detailed information as you can give him.”

I jumped in and seconded Red’s recommendation.

In actuality, the XO didn’t want any bullshit.  He just wanted to hear “good Guy, who messed up” or “dirtbag whom the Navy would be better without.” He had forty or fifty sailors to process and just didn’t have a lot of time.

The Ensign’s criminal was called before ours. He was almost shaking as he went in to the function.  He was shaking when he came out.  He told me and Red. “I don’t know what happened.  I was giving the XO the information about the FN and suddenly he told me to shut up and sent the FN to mast.  I don’t understand.”

Red says, “Sir, I’m glad I’m not you.  The XO hates you.”

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Another time, another XO “I”.  Red and I together again.  The same Ensign comes over and says, “I hope this doesn’t take too long today.  I’ve got paperwork to do before entering Yokosuka tomorrow.  It is going to be good to get back to Japan.”

“Pisses me off”, says Red.

“Why?” questions the Ensign.

“Cause we don’t get our sea pay when we are in port.” goes Red.

The Ensign says, “Of course you draw sea pay while you are attached to the ship whether you are in port or at sea.”

“Me and Dave don’t believe we can morally accept sea pay unless the ship is actually at sea.  They pay us the sea pay for inport days and we return it to the Disbursing Officer,” Red says.

“Really, that’s amazing.” From the Ensign.

“Let me explain our theory of Sea Duty,” Says Red.   “The earth is seventy-five percent water; if you spend your first twenty-five years ashore then you owe seventy-five years’ sea duty.

Later that evening we are in the CPO Mess having coffee when BTC Mudge comes in, pours a cup, sits down and says, “Will you two clowns stop fuckin’ with my Ensign, I am trying to train him and you are fucking him up. Right now he is in awe of Chiefs and for some reason thinks the two of you have your shit together.”

“Mudge, anything we can do to improve your world is our goal in life.” I said.

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Captain Owens was CO of Midway.  Mast was usually held in a ready room.  Divisional Representatives could take a seat and observe until their “Dirt Bag” was called for punishment.  One particular mast, the first three cases were called and their Division Officers, Division Chiefs, and Petty Officers lauded their men as outstanding examples of the North American Blue Jacket.

After the third one was adjudicated, Captain Owens told the CMAA to hold the next one for a moment.  He clutched the podium, glared at us and said, “All right gentlemen, let’s knock this shit off.  If these were such sterling characters they wouldn’t be up here this morning.”                                                                                                   *********************************                                                                                       There was another time we were gathered in a ready room, again, with Captain Owens.  The first case took about thirty minutes and the second one was dragging on.  At the rate it was going, we would be there most of the day.  After finally clearing the second case, Captain Owens told the CMAA to wait a minute, looked at everyone and said, “I can’t take any more of this today. Dismissed.”

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Another time we were gathered in a ready room for Mast.  Again with Captain Owens.  The accused was a BTFR.  He is brought in front of the CO and is joined by the Division Officer, his Chief and a BT1. The charges are read, and the FN’s statement given.  The Division Officer told the CO that the FN was one of the division’s poorest performers.  The Chief reiterated the DO’s statement.

The PO1, when asked about the offender exclaimed, “Look at him, just look at him, he’s a scrounge.”

We all saw a clean, neatly dressed sailor in a perfect uniform.  The BT1, almost dancing around pointing out various items, goes on, “Those are my pants, the hat, shirt and shoes are borrowed.  He doesn’t have any skivvies and I had to buy the socks.  I bribed the SH1 to get him a haircut and threatened him with bodily harm if he didn’t take a shower. I thought about letting him come up here as he was, but I was too ashamed that someone in my division was that fucked up, sir.”

The CO asks the BT1, “What do you think we should do with him BT1?”

Shit can him, Captain,” replies the BT.

And it was done.

 

To follow Tales of an Asia Sailor and get e-mail notifications of new posts, click on the three white lines in the red rectangle above, then click on the follow button.  To see a menu of previously published articles, click on the three white lines in the red rectangle above.

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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