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.




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

  1. Just today I was reading “Helmet for my Pillow” by Bob Leckie and the following would fit right into your blog…..
    “Always there was the word. Always there was that four letter ugly sound that men in uniform have expanded into the single substance of the linguistic world. It was a handle, a hyphen, a hyperbole: verb, noun, modifier: yes, even conjunction. It described food, fatigue, metaphysics. It stood for everything and meant nothing; an insulting word, it was never an insult; crudely descriptive of the sexual act, ugly, it modified beauty; it was the name and the nomenclature of the voice of emptiness but one heard it from chaplains and captains, from Pfc’s and PhD’s until finally one could only surmise that if a visitor unacquainted with English were to overhear our conversations he would, in the way of the Higher Criticism, demonstrate by measurement and numerical incidence that this little word must assuredly be the thing for which we were fighting.” Not much has changed!!!

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