By Garland Davis
He grew up in the fifties. He was what would later be referred to as a “Geek” or “Science Nerd.” His only attempt at being cool happened one summer during the late fifties when his schoolmates called each other Daddy-O. His cool got stuck there and in the mid-seventies he was still calling others Daddy-O.
He was slight, pasty-white, and hunched over. He led one to think that he had been the inspiration for the cartoon character Casper Milquetoast. But he was a hell of a Sonarman. It was said that he could distinguish between a transient sound by a Soviet submarine and a Beluga Whale with stomach problems cutting a fart at thirty miles.
The crew called him Chief Daddy-O. He wasn’t a very good chief. Instead of running the Sonar Gang, they ran him. A couple of excellent First Class kept things in order and actually ran the shop. His Division Officer, some of the other Chiefs, his division, and even the mess cooks ordered him around. He always did what he was told with good humor, saying, “Okay Daddy-O.”
He was married to a real ballbuster. She demanded and ordered him around incessantly. I don’t know if he loved her or was afraid of her, he never disagreed or disobeyed her.
We were leaving for WestPac, and the ship’s Legal Officer was preparing Power of Attorney documents for married personnel giving their wives authority to act in their behalf during their absence. Chief Daddy-O’s wife insisted on an unlimited Power of Attorney, and he acquiesced.
Seven months later the ship returned to Pearl Harbor. All the Brown-baggers were excited because Puss and the kids would be on the pier to welcome them home. Chief Daddy-O was as excited as a Seaman Deuce on his first run to the Samari. I was standing with him as he searched the pier for his wife. She wasn’t there. My wife was in Japan and would be coming to Hawaii in a couple of weeks.
He waited nervously while a phone was installed into the CPO mess and called his house only to get a message that the number was no longer in service. An old shipmate had kept my car for me while I was in WestPac and brought it to the ship. Daddy-O asked me to drive him to his house in CPO Housing. I reluctantly did so. I was fairly sure what he would find. I followed him to the door and inside after he unlocked it.
There was nothing in the apartment except a pile of stuff in the center of the living room. The one bowling trophy he had won the night divine intervention had caused him to bowl a 225 with his 130 average, a stack of documents and photos commemorating graduations from Navy Schools and promotions. The album containing their wedding photos was also there. She had used a magic marker to cover his face in each picture.
If you are thinking, “That’s not so bad, at least he is free of the bitch,” hang on to your asshole, that was just the beginning. She had shipped all their furniture to Virginia charged to his next transfer. She had maxed out their credit cards and contracted for new ones using the Power of Attorney and maxed those. She had taken loans from three different credit unions and a couple of banks.
When the smoke finally cleared, he found that he owed sixty seven thousand dollars. Navy legal helped him trim that down some and helped lower the interest rates. But the bottom line was, “he had given her the pawer of attorney.” In other words, he was fucked.
Shortly afterward, I transferred to Pearl for shore duty. Three years later I transferred to an FF homeported in Yokosuka and there was Daddy-O. He told me he hadn’t been on liberty in over four years. He said he had less than twenty thousand dollars left to pay off and he would finally be free.
But look in his locker and her picture was displayed on the inside of the door.
I guess it was love…