By: Garland Davis
I talked about the clubs yesterday. And lamented their passing. The CPO Club in Yokosuka was operating four years ago when I was there. I am fond of that building as the P.O. Club. I spent many an evening in that stag bar. Also many a productive lunch hour during the work week. Four years ago I stopped in at lunch, went into the lounge and ordered a beer. During the lunch, I had about three beers. The only other customers were two male and two female Chiefs. They sat at separate tables and had iced tea and sandwiches. The highlight of the day; as I was leaving, with a heavy heart, I bumped into Ivan Chute, an old Midway shipmate, and we retired to the FRA for the afternoon.
Back in the day, I saw Petty Officers make decisions on the fate of subordinates, cut deals for badly needed gear for an upcoming evolution and settle shipboard grievances peacefully. I also saw fights. Laughed until I cried at sea stories or the antics of some of my contemporaries.
I saw wives come in and drag their errant husbands out, to the applause and laughter of all. If I was to tell the truth, the manager (his name was Stansell) escorted me to the door a few times while informing me that I was barred for a week, a month, or for life. Usually after a few days, he would relent and let me return to the madness.
Another great Yokosuka Club was the old Club Alliance. You could have dinner and drinks there, stop in at the package store for a case of cold Oly’s, change MPC to Yen before retiring to whichever bar your current Honey-ko worked in.
One of the two other clubs I remember with the fondness that I do the P.O. Club is the old CPO Club at Pearl. The front entrance was outside the gate in a Navy Housing area. The back entrance was inside the base. It was like the CPO community had their own personal pedestrian gate that conveniently sold drinks. The club managers were Skip Ogilvie and John “Doc” Cottingham. At closing time, the doors were locked, but that didn’t mean the party ended. I often went to the club for dinner and drinks and left after having breakfast and drinks. I was initiated there.
The other club I loved was the China Fleet Club in Hong Kong. The pints of beer, the snooker rooms, and the flophouse where you could rent a bed. I don’t recall if they ever closed. In my memory, I was always able to get a beer and some fish and chips there. Then there was the Brit’s Singapore EM Club adjacent to the Fleet Landing. Drank my first Guinness there and fought the Australians and English because one of my shipmates referred to an Aussie as a Fucking Limey. I loved the English and Australians, their customs and their accents. They loved a good liberty. Unfortunately, the British are no longer “East of Suez.” A good thing ended when they departed.
The legendary Beeman’s Center at the Submarine Base Pearl is now a fast food restaurant and MWR game room. I remember when the Beeman’s CPO club had a strip show for lunch every Friday. I also remember the furor when a group of Chiefs’ wives stopped in for lunch while a Bubblehead A-Gang CPO and one of the strippers were having each other for lunch. The large EM Club at Pearl has been transformed into a vendor operated food court and MWR game room. The Banyan’s Officer Club at Pearl, dating back to the thirties, was bulldozed to make room for a pier side Navy Exchange and Uniform Shop. The eighth-floor lounge, “Top of the Q” at the BOQ is now classrooms.
I guess that if you want a drink on base you buy it at the Mini Mart and smuggle it into your barracks room and hope you pass the Breathalyzer tomorrow morning.
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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.