Monthly Archives: May 2016

A Pocket of Resistance: William (Tad) Jenkins

Another note about Memorial Day.

Yesterday, my cousin, Lori Oxendine, posted a photo of this young man on Facebook and told of his and his ship’s heroics in WWII. Later yesterday, i found the program included here (again) among my grandmother’s keepsakes handed down to me from Aunt Naomi (Jewell) Martin, to her son Maxwell, to my father, and finally to me. I am in the process of sorting this box of memorabilia and more from Mother, Daddy, and Aunt Bettye Kate Hall.

The photo on the program is the same as the one Lori posted. i’m sure my cousin Joann has a copy, but this one is special in that it has our grandmother’s writing on the side of the front page. i am imagining Carrie Myrtle Orrand Jewell,”Mama” to me, in that house at the beginning of West Spring Street writing the note to file in those special things she kept: “Jessie’s boy that they took care of when he was young and went into the service.”

i do not know the circumstances around Uncle Jessie and Aunt Alice bringing Tad into their family. Knowing them, they saw someone in need and took action, making Tad a part of their family. The sisters, Myrtle, Joann, and Shirley, considered him a brother.

Lori called him “Tad.” The program lists his nickname as “Tab.” i’m pretty sure Lori is correct. i didn’t know him as he and his ship, The USS Rowan (DD 405) were sunk eight months after i was born.

It makes me shudder to think of the sacrifice of all Americans during that war, and Tad’s hits close to home. i can envision the church on North Cumberland Street: dark wood inside with stained glass  windows. i can imagine reading the typed program, and reciting the litany in unison with the congregation. i can hear the rustling of quiet in the minute of silence at the conclusion. i can picture Aunt Alice, Aunt Naomi, my mother, and Mama Jewell tearing up while Uncle Jessie remained stoic during the service. Here’s the four-page program:

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While thinking about how powerful a service this must have been, i wanted to say something more and did another web search. There, just as powerful, perhaps even more so was this newspaper clipping:

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i found myself wishing Tad had been one of the young men in this photograph. At that moment, i was in tune with the agony of World War II.

i am sending the program to my cousin Joann, a wonderful caring lady in her own right, who knew Tad as her brother.

A Pocket of Resistance: Memorial Day

This morning, slightly after first light, i climbed the rough-hewn railroad tie steps up my hill and then up the remaining slope to my flag pole. i lowered the flag, flying at night because it is lit by a solar light, in accordance with U.S. Flag protocol, to half-mast.

At noon, i will repeat my hill ascension to raise my flag until it is two-blocked.

The weather  was cloudy and cool on my morning climb. It is predicted to be moving toward “sunny” on the second climb. “May Gray” is transitioning to “June Gloom” with a vengeance this year. We even had a light rain for an hour or so this morning. i like it that way now that i’ve gotten used to summer not really hitting the Southwest corner until July. It seems somehow fitting.

i am not a rah-rah person (unless it comes to Vanderbilt athletics). i prefer quiet observations of significant events rather than large crowds and pompous speakers. There are a number of old veterans like me who will drape themselves in old uniforms if they still fit and other replicas of when they were warriors, and will salute (some improperly) at certain moments as the bands play, the speakers pontificate (or make some unfitting political plea), and the crowd “oohs” and “aahs.” That’s just not my way of memorializing men and women of honor.

i’m not against that kind of demonstration, by the way, as long it is intended to honor the fallen, not some veiled attempt at a political agenda. i think such celebrations are a good thing, just not for me, not anymore.

flag-memorial_dayi’m sure there are quite a few of those we honor today who would shy away from such celebration about them. So i am honoring them my way. i walked up there in the early morning, pulled the lanyard to the proper position, and secured the lanyard to the cleat. i turned and looked upon the Navy ships silhouetted the gray mist and thought of shipmates and those officers and sailors who did not make it to retirement.

This is the ensign…er, flag (ensign is the Navy term i used for almost a quarter of a century) after being lowered to half mast. The ridge in the background is Point Loma.

i turned my gaze northwestward toward the silhouette of Point Loma. i could not see the white stone markers from this distance, or even the Fort Rosecrans cemetery boundaries, just the silhouette of the ridge in the marine layer. But i will know it is there, and i silently thought of those soldiers, sailors, and marines lying there in repose who will later be honored in a red, white, and blue festive, but respectful ceremony with a large crowd. My silent little ceremony is no less of an honor to them. Those men and women deserve both the festive recognition and my quiet reflection.

Last night, Brian Lippe, a retired Navy SEAL, excellent photographer, and good friend, posted his view of the Rosecrans cemetery at twilight. It is even better than my recollection of what the cemetery represents:

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The sun coming out midday is also appropriate. At noon when i raise the flag to its normal position, i will know those fallen honorees will be with me as i refocus. Thinking about the symbol representing why they gave their all. You see, that flag is not a person, a political party, a section of our country. We pledge our allegiance to our country. That allegiance must continue.

Military enlisted personnel “…solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

In their commissioning oath, officers “solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”

It seems we forget those oaths. The oath does not allow for disrespect to the President. We swore to obey his orders.  But not because of who he or she is, or what their political bias happens to be. Our military is led by a civilian because that is the way our forefathers designed the best model for a country before or after. We are all in this together. We are not supposed to be divisive. We are all immigrants, even those tribes of people who came long before others. We are not separated any longer as second-tier inhabitants or citizens. We are all citizens. Those men and women lying in those graves didn’t stop because of another citizen’s race, religion, or political leaning. They died for all of them, all of us. They died for our country symbolized by this beautiful flag hanging at half-mast until noon.

When i die, i have arranged to have my ashes put beside my parents’ graves in Wilson County Memorial Gardens. Maureen may follow suit. That is her decision. The small grave markers lie flat in the ground in that section of the cemetery. I hope there is room on the marker to simply note i served my country. That, and knowing i have joined those whom i honor today is enough.

Thanks, this country of America, for being just, and kind, and free, and for honoring those who have served you nobly with the greatest sacrifice.

A Pocket of Resistance: Another, and probably final (for real) “F” Word Story

For those who are against profanity, beware…again. And i lied again (or simply forgot) because while writing this story, i remembered another classic “F” word story. So there is at least one more coming, and i’m no longer declaring anything the “last one.”

With the story about JD’s dad, i thought i had exhausted my supply of “F” word stories. Then this morning, i woke up with one of the best ones, untold here, in my head.

i think it was the first “F” word story i heard from JD, the legend in the Navy’s aviation community. It may have been the first funny story he ever told me but not the first hilarious thing in which he and i were involved.

JD was a petty officer in the aviation maintenance shop for F-14’s at Miramar when it was a Naval Air Station (remember “Top Gun”?). His work center was run by a crusty old chief petty officer who had his own office separate from the work centers’ spaces. Communication between the chief and his crew was often accomplished through the 24MC, one of the archaic voice communication boxes (they looked like a huge drive-in speaker; remember them?) with buttons to select for connecting to various other spaces via a loud speaker.

The maintenance guys, being sailors, decided to yank the chief’s chain. So they devised a plan. The speaker system was connected to a number of offices and work spaces and the receiver of the call could not be identified. So the gang gathered around their 24MC, punched the button to the chief’s office, and one petty officer said, “Hey Chief, do you know who this is?”

The chief responded, “No, who is this?”

The petty officer responded, “Well, fuck you!”

The chief called all of his work centers together, chewed them all out since he didn’t know who the culprit was, and declared he was going to find out the guilty and make them pay.

The maintenance shop would lay low for several weeks and then repeat the call.

The chief, livid and frustrated, would chew everyone out again, and swear he would get the perpetrators.

In JD’s work center, there was a new kid, an airman named Farber. Farber quickly established he was not too bright and had a penchant for screwing up almost everything he attempted. But he was fascinated with the joke the gang played on the chief, and asked continually to be the one to call the chief.

The leaders of the joke replied, “No, Farber, you would just screw it up and get us all in trouble.

But Farber continued to bug everyone, and finally tired of Farber’s insistence, the gang said he could do it but only after hours of practice and several dry runs done perfectly. Farber agreed and worked hard practicing, punching the imaginary button, running through the two sections of calling and cussing the chief. After several weeks, the crew agreed Farber was ready after going through the routine perfectly several times.

Everyone gathered around the 24 MC as Farber leaned into the speaker and punched the button to the chief’s office.

Farber: “Chief, do you know who this is?”

As usual the chief responded, “No, who is this.”

With success just a reply away, Farber came back: “This is Farber, Fuck you!”

The work center was immediately mustered before the chief.

JD didn’t tell me of what the chief’s revenge consisted, but he did acknowledge the joke was discontinued.

 

A Pocket of Resistance: Another “F…” Story, Perhaps the Best

As with the other two “F…” stories, sensitive folks may want to  consider whether they read it or not because, as it was proven in a previous post, sometimes the “F” word is the only thing that can be used in a situation.

As i was writing my previous post on the use of the “F…” word — i kept thinking of one last story on the subject, recognizing i needed the originator of the story to okay my using it here.

Last week, i got his approval.

Maureen and i stayed with our close friends, JD and Mary Lou Waits, in their great home in the Tahitian Village development outside of Bastrop, Texas. They were wonderful hosts.

In 1982, JD and i moved from his apartment in the Oakwood complex in Coronado and his boat slip on Harbor Island and from my rather remarkable apartment on 8th and E in Coronado to 72 Antigua Court in the Coronado Cays (visiting ten-year old daughter Blythe approved of the move). The second floor condo patio looked down on our boat slip where JD’s 25-foot Cal sailboat was berthed.

It was the perfect bachelor pad for a single commander and a single CWO-4 aviation maintenance officer. It was September 1982. In December, JD became engaged to his former wife, Mary Lou, and in February 1983, i became engaged to Maureen. The Waits were married in the rotunda meeting room on a small peninsula across from our condo. i was the best man and Maureen was the maid of honor. The four of us were the complete wedding party. There were about fifty guests. Maureen and i married that summer. JD’s and my assessment: we really screwed up a great thing.

We all hit it off. JD and i were known by our wardroom on USS Okinawa (LHA-3) as the “Booze Brothers,” a takeoff on John Belushi’s and Dan Ackroyd’s “Blues Brothers.” JD made Maureen laugh nearly non-stop. Mary Lou was the perfect foil for JD’s and my play off each other into absurdity.

It was and still is a great relationship. This is JD’s story as close as i can remember:

JD was raised in Houston. His father, the original John David Waits and his mother, Wanda Pearl ran a diner known for some of the best barbecue in Houston. One of the frequent customers knew Mr. Waits was a huge fan of Spike Jones, the band leader of the absurd with a network television show. When the patron learned Spike was performing in Houston, he gave John David three tickets to the show.

JD’s father planned out the evening in detail. He left almost an hour earlier than necessary to get to the theater. When Wanda Pearl wondered why, her husband explained his plan was to get there early for good parking and ensuring they would be there long before the performance began. He wanted to see all of his admired Spike Jones.

As if from a scene (without snow) from “A Christmas Story,” after beginning their journey to downtown Houston, a tire blew. It took Mr. Waits a significant time to replace the tire with the spare, but when he got back in the driver’s seat, he assured Wanda Pearl they had plenty of time to get to the show. Then as they got to downtown, the barrier bars to the railroad crossing lowered, and a very long freight train took over a half-hour to clear the crossing.

It was getting a bit tight, but Mr. Waits was calm, sure they would make it in time.

When they arrived at the venue, the parking lot was now full, not empty as it would have been had they gotten there as early as Mr. Waits planned.

They had to park at the very back of the lot and walk a long walk to the entrance.

Hot and exasperated, they entered the theater with the show having started, and Spike Jones doing his crazy stuff. With his flashlight, the usher escorted the Waits trio to the third row and then hurriedly scrambled back to his post.

The threesome then began to stumble and quiety apologize to the other attendees as they made their way to their seats in the middle of the row.

Spike stopped his routine and snidely remarked to them through his microphone, “Glad you could make it.”

Wanda and JD quickly took their seats. But Mr. John David Waits, fed up to the gills with all that had happened, still standing, slowly turned to face the band leader and said loud enough for all to hear:

“Fuck you, Spike!”

The entire crowd gasped. A silence ensued for a few seconds before Spike turned and directed the band to start the next number.

A Pocket of Resistance: Friday, a day to get away

The newspaper ink in my blood sometimes is a negative.

My process is to write a news story, current. My schedule, my procrastination, my obligations, and my golf often interfere with publishing something if it’s more than a day old…old news, you see. So i archive it, thinking i might someday use it.

This kind of behavior adds to my frustration and stress, adding it to my inability to address and complete my schedule, my obligations, my golf, and even my procrastination (i like to procrastinate; i think of it as goofing off).

So FMG (Friday morning golf) is one needed relief for me. i put my phone on “silent,”  unless i forget like i did yesterday; open up my golf GPS app, and play golf with my buddies. They are a super group of guys, nearly all retired military veterans (but the others are just as as much good guys) who pull no punches in making fun of each other, telling sea stories, and drinking just a bit more beer than we should (it produces wonderful and long afternoon naps for me). i can say what i like and catching crap for saying it is perfectly all right. We are fast friends, and golf, unless it’s a particularly bad round of which we’ve had a few) is an escape by itself.

Yet walking the Sea ‘n Air course on Naval Air Station, North Island is happiness in itself. The views are spectacular, particularly the thirteenth through fifteenth holes, which play into and the along the Coronado beach with the Hotel Del Coronado looming to the east and the majestic Point Loma to the west (the beach faces south). F18’s, helicopters, and many other types of military aircraft fly over our heads on their landing flight path, sort of a reminder of what we did once, and a feeling of pride for what military service was and remains. It is always a good walk of about five miles.

And there are always a reminder of this world’s relationship with nature. The obnoxious and pretty much useless coots have apparently left for the summer, i hope, and the fairways, greens, and even the rough will be much better because of their departure. Occasionally, we will see ospreys. This season’s batch of youngsters are now flying, hunting on their own. We watched one set of parents in their nest in an eucalyptus along the second fairway tend to two as they grew and learned to fly.

There are the ubiquitous ground squirrels, seagulls, and crows hovering about, waiting for someone to drop a snack or even snatching a goodie out of a golf cart — the four young men in front of us yesterday declared one crow had eaten about six dollars worth of M&M’s, chips, and pretzels from their carts while they were on the green putting out.

Yesterday, we approached the third green haphazardly. I think it’s the toughest hole on the course with a large water hazard running on the right side from the 150-yard marker almost to the green. At the green end, there was this sight, which was a calm, appreciative moment for me:

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A drake and hen watching over their seven ducklings.

It is a nice reminder the world goes on in spite of us.

This post is a day late by my newspaper standards, but i’m fine with that.

Can’t beat my FMG.

A Pocket of Resistance: Road Trip Gone

Three thousand, one hundred, and four-tenths miles.

8:45 a.m. PDT Monday, May 16, to 3:00 p.m. CDT Tuesday, May 17: 29 hours.

8:00 a.m. CDT Monday, May 23, to 1:00 p.m. PDT Tuesday, May 24: 29 hours, 15 minutes

Stops: Monday night, May 16 – Day’s Inn, Van Horn, Texas. Monday night, May 23: Comfort Suites, Lordsburg, New Mexico.

Diet: Medium bag of Fritos, two one-egg omelets, one link sausage, two pieces of toast; one apple, chile relleno, beef taco, margarita, two beers, medium bag of Fritos, and four cups of coffee.

Final equation: 3100.4 miles + 73:15  hours + 72 years = not very bright old fart.

But, in spite of a few spells of fighting sleepiness, the solo trip was strangely rewarding, not including the rather incredible stay in Austin.

i was planning a long and probably boring accounting, but even with a nap, i’m not going to last very long. And tomorrow, i have a round of golf.

It has been a wonderful eight days, road trip included.

A Pocket of Resistance: Trip – I

It is 8:30 by one of the time zones i’m living in.

i have traveled near eight hundred miles in just over eleven hours. It should not surprise you this old man is tired, and therefore, this will be short.

Other observations will follow. But as i curl up for a short sleep and early rise to complete the voyage, a couple of observations:

Dust devils intrigue me. So does this world i’m in.

i’ve stopped in Lordsburg, New Mexico. i’m pretty sure this is where my friends Henry and Beetle Harding have relatives. i was surprised it is as small as it is unless i’ve missed something. i thought i should contact the relatives, but not this time. Sleep is the driver.

i’m staying at the Comfort Inn right next to I-10. When i asked for a good place to eat with a bar — i think i deserved a martini — the clerk informed me the only place in town with a bar was El Charro, a Mexican restaurant, literally across the tracks from the main part of town.

It is a sprawling place, a bit run down, that reminded me of a VFW hall gone south. When i entered the restaurant, the waitress, serving all of one older couple in an area with seats for about seventy-five, pointed me to the bar, another cavernous area that apparently is a venue for parties.

i sat at the bar to order my meal and my much desired martini.

“Do you have Bombay Sapphire,” i inquired. The bartender, replied, “We only have well gin.”

i had her margarita. Good. i also had a chile relleno, my gauge for good Mexican fare ever since Virginia Harding made it for me and her sons back home in Lebanon, and a beef taco, of course with a beer.

But i kept wondering what George Harding would think of this.

A Pocket of Resistance: Feelin’ Good

i am sitting on the porch of my daughter’s rented house she shares with a couple of guys.

It is raining. Southern rain: occasional thunder and lightning in the distance, a summer coolness in the air with the wind blowing the mist through the air to where i sit. i miss it in the Southwest corner.

i sit here thinking about how much i like George Lederer, one of Sarah’s housemates. He is simply a wonderful, caring, and intelligent young man. The landlord is selling the house, and George and Sarah will be moving to different places by the end of May. They are friends by the way, but they are the best friends i’ve ever known not to be romantically involved.

George and i sat up and talked until Sarah got home from a late appointment. Then the three of us talked some more: good stuff but tinged with problems normally associated with relocating.

But yesterday afternoon, i was lucky enough to be given a “feelin’ good’ feeling. After the monopoly game of which i posted a photo earlier on Facebook, the boys; son-in-law Jason, grandson Sam, and i went out to get a pizza (Blythe was leaving for an evening presentation). We came back their home to eat, while Sam went to play in the other room and Jason and i talked about a myriad of things. Jason and i connect. Cool.

Then as i was getting ready to leave, Sam came in with a lunch box.

“Papa, this is a gift for you,” he said, but added, “The lunch box is just the wrapping; you can’t take that with you.”

Sure enough on the top of the lunchbox was a sign:

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He opened the lunchbox for me and handed me the small stuffed animal. There were a number of small figurines at the bottom. Sam announced, “And you can have one of these too.

i picked one out. After thanking Sam profusely, i put my gifts in my backpack and began my evening good-byes. Sam and i hugged about a half-dozen times before i got out the door, then a couple of more en route to my car parked about twenty-five feet away, then some “hand hugs” through the open window.

When i got back to Sarah’s place where i have stayed until Maureen arrives at noon today, i opened my backpack and put my gifts on the dresser top.

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My desk in my home office is pretty much cluttered with mementoes. But these gifts are going to have special place of honor there when i get home.

It is simply amazing how wonderful a grandson can make you feel.

A Pocket of Resistance: David was too

i have just arrived in Austin to be with my grandson, two daughters, and Jason (sorry, Jason: in that order).

It was a non-life threatening but very long and sometimes harrowing 1300 miles and 32 hours of minor misadventures and a few discomforts, all of which i enjoyed…after i arrived.

Traveling alone gives one plenty of time to think. i put my iPod (4700 “songs”), on shuffle, clicked ahead through most of the classical stuff because it’s hard to hear in a Mazda 3 doing eighty, and sang along when i wished…and i thought a lot.

There was one overriding thought throughout the trip produced by a voice mail Sunday afternoon. It was from Judith Pendergast. I knew it was not good news.

Judith is David Pendergast’s wife. David and i were partners in a two-team foursome who worked on reorganizing the (then) 18,000 work force for the Department of Energy’s Richland Operation Office, which was responsible for the management of DOE’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation, 640 square miles dedicated to creating nuclear bombs during WWII and the ensuing aftermath.

When Judith and i finally connected, what i suspected was verified. Only the timing was a surprised.

David died last July of pancreatic cancer, a disease he had temporarily conquered several years before. Because Judy could not penetrate Internet and computer security and government regulations on divulging personal information, it took her ten months to connect with me.

I was shocked. After David retired from organization development, he and Judith moved to Naples where they bought, renovated and resold homes for a while. We kept random and infrequent communication. i had actually thought about seeing if he would be interested in working, or at least providing for a book i was contemplating writing.

But i didn’t. Now, he is gone.

The timing of the sad news would not have made much of a difference had it been earlier. he is still gone.

David was one of the most intelligent, caring, and honest people i have ever known. This is slightly amazing in that he worked for the most part in improving organizations of Nuclear Power companies, and DOE, damn near an oxymoron from my experience, but he did it.

We made a good team. After about seven months of commuting from San Diego and Naples, we both volunteered to move to Eastern Washington’s tri-city  area because we realized how much our weekly commuting was costing the government and ultimately, the taxpayers. Until Judith arrived, David and i spent our free time together exploring the southeast corner of Washington, a delightful experience.

We also had the same ideas about effective management of the operation at Richland.

David, because of the respect he had earned from nuclear organization, was the leader, and he never missed a beat. There are several stories here that must wait. But after Ian Urquart, Frank Gatos,  David and i, evolved into the team, David and i became a one team and Frank and Ian were the other. alternating our time in Richland. And David and i  connected (another story).

i will write more of David later, but in this late Austin afternoon while my family are doing their thing, i am sitting in a much-younger-than-me bar, disguised as an eatery, listening to a strange mix of music, which suits my proclivities in the music world, but too loud: something i don’t understand since all of the young middle-agers here can hear better than me.

But on my crazy ride and sitting here, i keep coming back to something that actually involves two of the folks i’ve met in my rather diverse pursuit of living.

When i was getting input for that book i was contemplating, one of the first people i contacted was Peter Thomas. Pete is an incredible man who has accomplished things physically, professionally, and as a good human being as  exists. I asked him my question i planned to ask a bunch of my leader heroes what was the one thing most important to being an effective leader.

My question was, “What’s the most important thing for a leader to do to be most effective.

Without hesitation, Peter replied, “Do the right thing.”

Peter’s response has become my mantra in everything i do.

While talking to Judith, she reflected on David’s assessment of me.

“Jim had integrity. You could trust him,” he told Judith.

Then he said, “Jim always did the right thing.”

For him to assess me with the most important aspect of a relationship with anyone, not to mention satisfaction with your own being, is on of my most welcomed aspirations.

So did David.

i don’t like to toot my own horn, but this one is special because David was a special man.

So i am sitting in the Workhorse bar, writing this while listening to music way too young for me and writing this post. But you see, i ordered  their best bourbon because they didn’t have George Dickel (David always enjoyed my claim of Mr. Dickel’s bourbon excellence) or Jack Daniels.

i had one more than i should have. But i don’t care. David would laugh at that. And that, makes it okay with me.

RIP, David.

A Pocket of Resistance: Another Sea Story about that “F” thing

Again, if you are not fond of profanity, you might wish to  skip this one. As you can see, Walker Hicks showed me how to get a colored font. i’m green.

This sea story is not verifiable from my experience, but it is one of my favorite sea stories. In fact, i may have shared it here already, but i am old and can’t remember, and this “F” thing is now on my mind.

Back in time, before the Navy left Newport as a Naval station with ships, and before the station had the destroyer-submarine piers, destroyers anchored or moored to buoys in the the bay, requiring them to continuously steam.

It also meant to go on liberty, sailors had to take a liberty boat into Newport’s Long Wharf, the location of the legendary bar (it was a restaurant, but sailors knew it as a bar). When the sailors disembarked from their liberty boat and began walking up the pier, the sign in front of the establishment read “Leo’s First Stop.” When the sailors headed back to their ships before liberty concluded (back in those days and into my early years in the Navy, when liberty call expired sailors below second class had to be back by 2200, second and first class liberty expired at 2300, and chiefs’ liberty ended at midnight. Officers’ liberty hours varied, but was nearly always later, often only until morning quarters), the sign for the same establishment read “Leo’s Last Stop.”

The end of the Long Wharf also served as the mid-day snack bar. Geedunk trucks (similar to today’s food truck fad, but much more archaic; geedunk refers to snacks and cold drinks) would drive out to the end of the wharf and serve sailors who would take launches, usually motor whale boats. Ships’ crews would pick some designated runners who would take orders and money from other crew members, make the run and return with the geedunk.

One minesweeper’s executive officer had recently reported aboard. He was very religious and dedicated to limiting, if not eliminating profanity from the crew and wardroom. As part of his drive against profanity, he was holding an officer’s training session in the wardroom on the topic of not cussing. In concluding his exhortation, he empathically pronounced, “And there is no situation where a better word can be used rather than profanity.”

The minesweeper had a Chief Warrant Bosun, an old salt who was sitting in the back of the wardroom with his chair leaning against the bulkhead. He raised his hand. The XO, knowing the Bosun was an old school cussing deck hand, reluctantly, acknowledged him.

“Beg your pardon, XO, but i think there is one place where that might not be correct.”

Feeling like he was trapped, the XO said, “Go on, Bosun.”

The Bosun continued, “You see, sir, the other morning, Seaman Fritz was making the geedunk run for the deck division. There were a lot of orders that day, so he took two shit can tops (trash can lids) to carry back the geedunk.

“When he got the orders, he was holding the two shit can lids in each hand. Holding one lid in each hand, he put one foot on the gunnel of the motor whaleboat. The bow hook had not secured the forward line and the boat began to drift away from the pier.

“Seaman Fritz with one leg on the pier and one leg on the gunnel began to spread. Knowing he was about to do the splits before getting dunked, he looked at the shit can lids in each hand and said, ‘I’m fucked.’

“And sir,” the Bosun concluded, “There ain’t no other word you could use in that situation.