The Nasty City Snake Ranch
By: Garland Davis
Most sailors understand the term “Snake Ranch.” Many of us were involved as either renter, co-renter, shareholder, or tolerated as a visitor at a “Snake Ranch” one or more times during our Naval career. They were usually located within a reasonable distance of the base with a NEX Beverage Store or a liquor store located on the direct route between the base and the Ranch. Most were located in areas that were prime cross-pollination areas. If you couldn’t hook up and get laid out there you were one ugly son of a bitch or had major halitosis or hygiene problems.
I am reminded of an especially memorable Snake Ranch in National City. Now “Nasty City” was the chosen hunting ground for Navy wives whose husbands had the duty, WestPac widows, ex-Navy wives, and every girl hoping to become a Navy wife, often known as National City Purty Girls. Many homely girls, and some downright ugly ones, not to mention the heavyweights, with a tube of lipstick, two pairs of clean cotton skivvies, and a bus ticket eventually found their way to the environs of National City. Mecca of the First Fleet. Right outside the main gate of 32nd Street Naval Station, a bastion of the largest per capita population of totally irresponsible sons of bitches with resources of disposable income, and a monumental appreciation of sexual commingling.
The National City Snake Ranch was, to put it mildly, a dump. Not an ordinary dump, but a spectacular dump, with a record-breaking backyard collection of empty beer bottles and cans, as well as, a co-ed bathtub used more often for hanky-panky than actual bathing.
The house was furnished in a hit and miss fashion. What passed for the dining room had a wire spool for a table surrounded by three or four three-legged stools. The table was usually cluttered with the Colonel’s buckets full of gnawed bones and sacks from the Jack in the Box on the corner. The kitchen had a stove and a frying pan. There were no plates of utensils. I don’t recall anyone ever trying to cook anything. The kitchen sink was used to give the dog a bath. The living room consisted of a couple of sofas and some stuffed chairs with sprung springs. There was a big God Damned anvil where a coffee table would normally be situated. No one had any idea where it came from, why it was there, or who thought it would enhance the ambiance of the room. I guess it stayed there because it was too damned heavy to move. Oh yeah, the beer reefer was along one wall of the living room.
The house mascot was a mutt dog who answered to the name Son of a Bitch. He drank beer, ate Fritos and farted. He tolerated cats. He was so lazy, he just let them wander in and out. All he did was lay around, lick his nuts and ass, and fart. He seemed to just fit in with the occupants of the Ranch.
The rules were pretty straight forward.
- You had to be single.
- You had to be a Petty Officer. No non-rated and No Chiefs.
- No parking your cars in the yard.
- When you contributed beer or booze, log it in. The log was checked to see who wasn’t contributing.
- When the rent was due, pony up your share or you are out.
- Don’t throw beer bottles into the backyard from the second-floor windows.
- No goddamn phone. (We knew if there was a phone, the number would get out.)
No Chief or Officer could ever know about the Ranch. If your mother was being tortured by the Commies and your sister was raped by Marines, you were dead if someone showed up to tell you. The Ranch was a serious Monastic Brotherhood dedicated to fermented beverages and porking ugly damsels.
The house had three bedrooms. Someone had rescued about fifteen mattresses from Navy Salvage and they were distributed between the bedrooms. There was always someplace to crash when, after drinking beer for twelve or sixteen hours Old Morpheus hit you over the head with his sack of sand.
Over the years a number of different sound systems had been installed in the Ranch. There was often a battle between Rock and Roll and Shitkicking music being waged between different rooms of the house. There was no problem from the neighbors as they were drunks and derelicts of whom the female members were often in attendance at the Ranch. After all ,it was a “Snake” ranch and we tried to be good neighbors.
You would think that a First Class Electrician and a Second Class ET would know the danger of running six or seven cheap extension cords in a daisy chain to power the stereo. Luckily with our Damage Control training, we were able to put the fire out with a couple cans of beer and one asshole pissing on it without having to call the Fire Department.
Somebody had drug home a glass fronted refrigerator that was emblazoned with the Coca-Cola logo. It didn’t work, but the AC&R MM from the ship brought his gear and Freon tank and got the bitch working. He tweaked it until the temp was between 33° and 36°. Cold beer! It would hold a hell of a lot of beer. Seven or eight cases.
We did have a TV for a while, but there were too many arguments about what to watch. Guys would get pissed off when they were watching something and everyone would vote to switch to “I Dream of Jeannie.” A Boatswain’s Mate got pissed one night and threw the TV through the back window into the backyard where it rested among the beer bottles. It was still there when I transferred and relinquished my share of the Ranch.
For all, I know the Nasty City Snake Ranch is still going strong. When I returned to San Diego with a wife, I never went to check. I knew I wouldn’t be welcome. I had violated the first rule.
The only other Snake Ranch I know of that was more depraved and debauched than the Nasty City one was located in the Barrio, but that is a story for another time.