Navy Life -- #3 Final in this venue

After this one I'll move on to better stuff hopefully! And so it continues;

When you had committed a particularly heinous act that incurred the Company Commanders ire, he had a way of wreaking havoc on you that I still remember to this day. He would have you go to your locker and take out your seabag and commence to fill it up with everything you had in that locker. It went into the bag in the prescribed Navy order thank you very much! Then you would pick it up and go collect your 1903 .30-06 caliber bolt action WWI, 8.5 lb rifle and proceed to the aforementioned "grinder". Once there, you would commence to make as many circuits of said premesis as he thought necessary to bring you into line, and to help you mend your ways! He always preceded his awarding of punishment with a small speech that went something like this. "Foul Balls! The Navy does NOT like foul balls and I don't like foul balls, and Littlefield, YOU are a FOUL BALL!! Now get out there on the double and go round and round until I think you can stay within the bounds of the playing field"! It was absolutely miserable out there doing this in the middle of the afternoon for a couple of hours. It was, after all, June through September in the South! Oh yes, I forgot to mention one thing. Before you started loading up your seabag for this land-bound voyage, you would have to dress yourself in your very best set of Dress Blues! This is a dead of winter uniform too. Oh man did they ever smell by the time you had finished paying the price for your transgressions! This happened to me on two seperate occasions, and after the second one, I "saw the light" and realized that I should probably keep my mouth shut for the remainder of my incarceration. This I did admirably, considering that I was regarded as some sort of a wise ass by the powers that be.

Well after 16 weeks of being verbally assualted by the Company Commander and his henchmen, and having had our poor feeble brains stuffed with Naval lore of all types, we were deemed ready to graduate and to go inflict ourselves on the poor unsuspecting Fleet. Graduation day finally came and as our company, 252 lined up on the grinder with all the other company's, The Drill Team, me included passed in review with all the other graduating companies following us. For this day only, the Drill Team got to use chrome plated rifles with bayonets attached. They really flashed and looked good as we marched by twirling and flipping them in the air. For most of the guys, it was the beginning of a two week leave before reporting to their next duty station or ship. For a few others and myself, we got to hang around good old Bainbridge for another 6 months, because our schools didn't start out in Norman Oklahoma until April 1st.
In the intervening 6 months I found out that I did not like working in the Galley as a full time vocation! I had managed to escape during service week but now I was just a lowly old swabby like the rest of them waiting to go somewhere. That three month period of "mess cooking" was a miserable affair for the most part. There I was, right back in the same exact building where I had been eating for the last four months, only now I was one of the cooks. Well, not really a cook, more like a cooks slave you might say. We did all the stuff the cooks didn't like to do like peeling thousands of pounds of potatoes,washing dishes, trays, silverware etc., swabbing the deck. All the rotten menial jobs. One day I got promoted to the line where the Waves were served. Those are the Lady sailors in case you didn't know. We were to stand there at parade rest with a serving spoon and put the food in the appropriate compartment on the tray. You were NOT allowed to speak to them, nor were you to make eye contact with them. Well after I hd been there for a couple of weeks I started sneaking peeks at them to remind myself what a girl looked like! One day while sizing up a fine looking young lady, I managed to put a big spoonful of whipped cream right smack in the middle of her stewed tomatoes, insted of the strawberries where it should have gone! I had been checking this gal out for a few days and wondering if I had the gall and gumption to defy orders and say something to her.That chance was taken from me when she looked down at her tray, then up at me, and then said in her New York accent, "You dumb son of a Bi---, it's supposed to be on the strawberries"! She concluded her tirade with a few other "expletives deleted" that I hadn't up till that time heard come out of a girls mouth! Well there went my budding, in my own mind, romance! I didn't know such a sweet-faced young girl could talk like that! None that I had ever known talked that way. Being the thoughtful and gentlemanly person I was at the time, I immediately and without thinking of the consequences of my impending speech, answered her in kind, with all the Navy jargon, lingo and swearwords I had picked up in my woefully short Naval career! Needless to say, the large hand of the Chief avenging Cook descended onto my shirt collar and I was physically yanked away from the serving line. I was dragged/pushed to the DEEP SINK room where I was to spend the rest of my mess cooking career. The DEEP SINK room had this particular name because it had five or six very large, very deep stainless steel sinks in there. Now there was at least one logical thing in this mans Navy! This was the place where all the big old cooking pots and pans came too, to be restored to pristine condition before the next meal. They had to sparkle like they had just been bought brand new. This entailed some kind of steel wool that looked like it had been made out of a piece of chain link fence, and about twenty foot pounds of elbow grease per pot or pan. This was true of all pots and pans except for the sheet pans on which the cake and rolls were cooked. The Cook's liked them nice and black but still hygienically spotless. Needless to say I guess, is that the first thing I did was to screw up and get two of them back to that store-bought brightness before I was apprehended!

This room was a good approximation of Brer Rabbits briar patch. Nobody wanted to get put in there till the actual deed was done. It has been one of the best kept secrets in the US NAVY! Why do I say that? 'Cause this was the place that ALL the leftover food came too, to be disposed after the meal! Steaks, porkchops, all sorts of veggies, and best of all, all the left over desserts! It was all the stuff you could never get enough of out in front of the serving line. Now here it was , mana from heaven! Man, now when they had strawberry shortcake, I didn't have to worry about getting it in the right slot on the tray, all I had to worry about was which hand to plunge into the berry or cream pot and stuffing it in my mouth by the HAND FULL before the other nine guys ate it all up! One other advantage was that we didn't have to be there in the sinks thill thirty minutes after the chow hall opened. Then we were usually out of there an hour before the rest of the guys got through cleaning the whole chow hall from top to bottom. Every Day! The Navy was fanatical about cleanliness in body as well as domicile!

This unvarying routine was carried out with monotonous regularity until my three month tour funally came to an end and I was reprieved and sent on to my next job at good old Bainbridge MD. As I remember, I spent the next three months being what my rich Uncle euphemistically called a "compartment cleaner". Thats a nice sounding name for "MAID"! I swept, swabbed, scrubbed and cleaned like a fiend for the remaining time I spent there.

I did manage to get on the Base drill tem for that last three month stay there, and got to go on a lot of places around the area putting on demonstrations of our prowess with a chromed rifle with a 12 inch chromed bayonet on the business end. It is actually pretty impressive to watch those spinning rifles as they are tossed back and forth to each other with those shiny blades reflecting the sun. Lots of oohing and aahing as the watchers wondered who was going to get there nose cut off, or get stabbed in the heart first! Well the end of my house-cleaning career finally arrived and we were sent off to Norman Oklahoma where the Navy owned a prep school for prospective aircraft maintenance folks, one of which I so dearly wanted to be!

Next duty station was to be Quonset Pt. RI of all places!!

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