The Bamboo Telegraph
By Garland Davis
Did you ever leave the Main gate in Subic, stop for a beer on Magsaysay and then catch a Jeepney to the Irish Rose and walk in as the girl you had been rolling around with opened a beer for you and asked, “Why you stop at Brass Rail? You have girlfriend there? You buy her a drink, I think you butterfly!”
Shipmate, you have just experienced one of the most efficient communication systems ever to exist. Some call it the “Bamboo Telegraph,” others call it the “Grapevine.” Whatever name used, it is damned good.
I remember hitting the beach with a shipmate and we worked our way down toward the Jolo or New Jolo where his steady girl worked. When we arrived there, she was pissed and read him the riot act telling each place we had stopped and the names of the girls we had talked to. And then she gave him shit about not bringing me right away because she had a lonely young cousin to introduce me to.
I remember a time when a shipmate and I were bar hopping, drinking and talking to the girls. His steady came bursting into the bar and started on the girl sitting with him. Fortunately, the waiters/bouncers grabbed them as the butterfly knives came out.
Back in the day, there were hungry kids who, for a couple of Peso’s, would wait at the gate and follow a sailor and report to his Honey-ko. They could relay information up and down Magsaysay at a speed that would make Western Union envious.
Usually, the Bamboo Telegraph was more up to date on your ship’s movements than CTF 73…