U.S.S. MISSOURI BB63
The photo shows General MacArthur boarding the ship before the landing and bombardment of Inchon Harbor, Korea. The only similarity
between this boarding and the one I made for my first time is the deck is the same.
I didn't have an honor guard, the Paparazzi or
a contingent of officers trailing behind.I also didn't use the same gangway. VIP's had a gangway with rigid railings to hold onto;
I had a rope. Their gangway was securely fastened to the side of the ship to prevent sway; mine seemed to be free-swinging. Their's
had wide and deep steps; mine had narrow rungs.
The word came down late evening that we were to board for assignment the next morning.We
were sleeping in a Quonset hut in Guantanomo Bay,Cuba and living out of a sea-bag, which is canvas and about as big as a good size
trash bag.We also had with us a canvas hammock and thin mattress with two covers.
We got up early and stuffed our sea-bags with all
our possessions, and tied it securely.We then laid out the hammock on the floor with the mattress on top.The sides of the hammock
were then folded over to make a rig about 16 inches wide. Then the sea-bag was placed on top and the hammock folded over and tied
together. The whole rig when laid on it's long side came up to my waist. The word was that we were going to have to carry this on
the left shoulder while climbing the gangway and going aboard.The right hand was needed for the salutes.The rig weighed almost us
much as I did. I managed to get it on to my shoulder and step onto the gangway from the small boat, which was lurching in all directions.The
Coxswain and boat-crew were enjoying the whole operation.I followed someone up to the top and all the while wondered if I was going
to make it or fall over the side.I stopped to salute the Officer Of The Deck, while trying to hold my rig and come out with the prescribed"..
request permission to come aboard, sir!"The return salute did not look anything like the one you see in the photo above.It was more
like a flip of the hand in the direction of the head.
I then turned to salute the Ensign ( US Flag ) and stepped on to the deck. I
put the rig down and breathed a sigh. The largest vessel I had been aboard before this was the water- slide at Paragon Park Nantasket.This
thing was huge! My papers directed me to sign in at H division. I asked someone how to get there and he told me I had to go down three
decks and I could find the entryway just after the swimming pool on the starboard side forward.Swimming pool? Sure! I thought the
worst was over until I had to negotiate the steep narrow ladders and pass through the small hatches with my rig.
If I could find a
swimming pool,I was ready to toss in a canvas float.
The Importance Of Timing The Ship's Roll
Aboard any ship, timing is
everything. If you expect to spit over the side, it is critical that you time the expectoration with the roll of the ship from side
to side. If you don't , the product can hang loosely from the life line and if you are observed by an officer or Master-At-Arms ,
the punishment can be severe. The morning after one such episode ,we did not get the usual call on the loudspeaker...
" NOW HEAR THIS!
NOW HEAR THIS! SWEEPERS MAN YOUR BROOMS! CLEAN SWEEP DOWN FORE AND AFT." The perpetrator was the only sweeper to man a broom.
will determine how one experiences a passage at amidship. Between the superstructure and the lifelines , a narrow passage of about
six feet is all that is available to get from one end to the other. If one is poised to make the journey, he must time it with the
roll of the ship from side to side. It isn't wise to start when the ship is about to roll in the direction of the lifelines. The view
over the side ,especially in a storm,can be "puckering", to say the least.
If one has to get out of his hammock at night to visit the
head, it is a lot easier when the exit is accomplished to time with the ship's roll.
When one leaves the chow line with a tray of food
and he is headed for a mess table, it is always better to wait for an uphill trip. Downhill can produce some pretty messy scenes.
The photo on the left, taken in 1942 , was posted on almost every locker aboard ship. It is quite possible there were more of these
posters available in all the Armed Services than there were letters mailed home. The Gilda poster appeared with the movie in 1946.
reared it's ugly head once again , during the showing of the movie.Everybody was looking forward to the new movie.It was one of those
evenings in the Caribbean with a warm breeze and calm sea. We were sitting cross-legged on the deck and perched on turrets waiting
for the sunset to recede...something more beautiful than a mere show of nature's glory was about to appear on a white screen.The following
is a review of the film by Tim Dirks:(The reader must remember, this was heady stuff for the forties)
The film's most memorable scene
follows - it is Gilda's bawdy, sexy casino performance/glove striptease while singing the torchy number "Put the Blame on Mame, Boys."
The lyrics of the song, filled with double entendres, describe a dangerous, threatening kind of woman who is often blamed - unfairly
- by men. Instead of finding love in a spiritually-healing relationship with Glenn Ford, Gilda finds herself caught in a complicated,
hateful marriage. She fights back in the only way possible - with a defiant, drunken sexual exhibition that doubles as a self-fulfilling
Swathed in a black satin dress displaying bare upper arms and shoulders, her dance is deliberately designed to shame, humiliate
and infuriate Glenn Ford in public. As she sings, she beckons with extended arms toward the lusting men in the audience and peels
off one of her long, elbow-length black gloves - keeping the casino audience (and crew), in suspense - wondering whether the strapless
gown will remain suspended on her frame. Receiving accolades and encore-applause( from the men on the screen and the crew ), Gilda
flings her second glove toward the hungering audience. As she starts to shed her strapless dress, she entreats the men for assistance:
"I'm not very good at zippers, but maybe if I had some help."
" I will! I will! " were shouts heard from the deck and turrets.
is where the concept of timing appears:
Like a plan out of Hell, the projector stopped projecting and the screen became all white.
If the previous shouts were deafening,the ensuing outcry was earsplitting. The projectionist couldn't be seen with all the bodies
hovering around him, exhorting him to make the repairs. After a while , everything quieted down as the whirr of the projector could
be heard.The scene continued with Rita being dragged off the stage.We all wondered if anyone helped with the zipper.It became a topic
of discussion for many days...until we got to shore and went to the movie theater to see what happened. We didn't miss a thing, which
in itself was kind of disappointing.