Friday, May 18, 2012

‘From Radio Shack To Internet Café’

In life there’s an evolution to the whole shebang. Over time, things progress… they become more refined and defined. Back when I was a young ‘Crackerjack’ in this ol’ Canoe Club… if you smoked you had an ashtray on your desk… now you get treated like a leper and shunned from normal society!! In earlier times they collected enemy intelligence and analyzed it… then called the enemies Reds and Commies!! Now they collect your piss and analyze it and act like Reds and Commies!!!

Yes things have changed over the years… not sure for the worse or the better… but I can surely remember how important mail call was back in the day!  Mail was the singular lifeline that linked us to the real outside world!! It took weeks… sometimes months to reach us… usually sporadic at best, but it was special… one of the most important parts of daily life!! It could be tough being away from Momma back home… or that sweet ‘Suzie Rotten Crotch’... but we also had radio!!!

The Radio Shack was like ‘Grand Central Station' for information exchange. It was usually a tiny locked up spook chamber full of transmitters & receivers allowing long & short range communications… and other than ‘Snail Mail’… it was our only link to the civilized world!!!

And those sons-a-bitches hated it when anyone came to the door… it was like a big secret squirrel cage!!! Every time you’d buzzed the door some arrogant little ‘RMSN’ son-of-a-bitch answered with a smug attitude like his time was too gauddamned important to be screwed with!!!

If you were lucky enough to get a ticket in you might witness some ‘Sparky’ listen’n to ‘something’ with a set of headphones…

“Whadd’ya listening too?”

 The smart ass response would be...

"If I tell ya I’d have to kill ya!!!"

If you were chums with one of the radioman, you could get the scores before they got posted… this might be favorable for placing bets… but don’t ever get caught!!!

Yep… ‘Sparky’ or ‘Sparks’ was the endearing name given to Radiomen back in the day stemming from when Noah navigated the Ark!!!

Back in the day radiomen usually lay hidden in the ol’ Radio Shack never to be seen for work’n parties… Sea-n-Anchor details… Berthing Cleaners or anything that required gett’n dirty or break’n a sweat!! I never saw one of them sons-a-bitches runn’n to get radio traffic or pick up their guard mail!! Hell… as a Chief Section Leader I had to pull teeth to get one to stand watch on the Quarter Deck… but I digress!!!

Way back when… and this is a no shitter… we had what were known as ‘Family Grams’ that came from Radio! These were short messages from sweet ‘Betty Lou’ over the radio system to let you know she was still thinking of you!! Usually ‘Flagged’ for content… these messages were brief and often didn’t allow for much!!!

‘Sparky’ screened the notes for overly sexualized script… or anything that might send a ‘Crackerjack’ already tanked on Xanex or Prozac from jump’n ship!!! We wouldn’t wanna get the obligatory ‘Dear John’ letter in the mix!!!

But some of these Gems were quite ingenious to say the least… an A+ for creativity that’s for damned sure… Here’s a few that I’ve conjured up through e’mails and remarks from fellow bloggers…

“Watching the dog bury his bone in the yard; can’t wait for you to get home and bury yours.”


“Curly and the twins miss you!”


“Red River Flowing, no need to worry!!”


“Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, I sure miss your candlestick!!!”

Would’a never figured any of those would’ve passed screening, but shit happens…

I heard of another instance where a lonely wife had sent a series of Family Grams… Her first message read…

 “Uncle Harry is lonely!”

The Sparky who delivered it was probably think’n… ‘Who the hell cares if Uncle Harry is lonely’…  But apparently Uncle Harry was code for the ol’ ‘Bearded Oyster’ hiding under her panties… had the young Sparky known he surely would’a spread it around the ship like wild fire!! The next message read…

 “I think uncle Harry is going to be sick.”

Then came…

“I think uncle Harry is going to die.”

At that point the young wife received a phone call and an appointment to visit the Base Chaplain! On her way there her mind raced… Had the ship sunk… Was her husband hurt… Was she gonna be a widow at such a young age???

She was ushered into the chaplain’s office and seated across a large desk from the fully uniformed Chaplain with crosses on his collar. She was frightened… ready to cry… prep’n to morn!! Then the Chaplain said…

 “Ma’am… We’re very concerned about your Uncle Harry.”

She didn’t know to laugh or cry to hide from embarrassment. I think her response as she all but ran from the office was…

“He got better!!!”

So for the short term it was either that or the whole MARS communications setup where you could over…  Roger… & Out your wife!! But noth’n very personal or tantalizing could be said with the Commo standing right over your shoulder!!! But those days are all but over…

Now Family Grams and MARS have all but died out in the ol’ Canoe Club… all to be replaced by the digital age of E’mails and Cellphones!! Nowadays these young’ns can partake in decisions as simple as what brand of toilet paper to wipe their ass with on the home front!! Hell now all these young whippersnappers have to complain about is how long the internet is gonna be down… Can you imagine that?? We’d wait six weeks at times for a piece of snail mail and now they’re suffer’n from a couple of hours of internet withdraws!!! We used to leave the family issues behind while we concentrated on the ol’ mission… now these kids get a pack of Xanex for going a day without ‘Facebook’ or e’mail!! I wonder how many grievances the CMEO gets ‘cause his Chief wouldn’t let him check his internet before going on watch?!?!

Yes… we live in a world of instant gratification!! Back when I was a young’n we had to play cards… read  book… watch the same gaudamned movie for the thirtieth time!! Now they just go to the ship’s library now referred to as the ‘Underway Internet Café!! I think they need one of them metal signs… ‘Starbucks not Available’!!!

But I still remember look’n back to when we had to sit around and wait for our names to be ‘Hollered’ out at mail call… and the perfumed letters with lipstick that made Gun Plot smell like a whore house!!!

And radio?!?! Now Sparky’s called an ‘IT’ (Internal Communications Techie)… I remember they never let us in the secret squirrel cage back in the day… but as a Tomahawk Tech I practically lived in radio when sett’n up for MDUs and AEHF!! Those Sparky’s just couldn’t stand it… kind’a like I was stepp’n in on their turf!!!

Yep, life is easier for the young ‘Crackerjack’ these days… Back in my day we had to go to sea uphill both ways… through thorn bushes… nekkit in a hale storm… Hahaha… the simple pleasures of life… those wonderful memories keep rushing back into my head!!!


  1. I was twlling some youngins about getting snail mail and how nothing was ever sequential. You'd get mail in no order at all

  2. Chief, ummm, Starbucks is available, how far the Navy has fallen from when we were young crackerjacks getting our dicks wet in Thailand, PI or Hong Kong..

  3. It was good to be a Sparky back then, except for the part where everyone hated us.

  4. That is so very true, but it was the officers that access to Radio that would try to get all the news/scores before hand. Those were the days. Did that for over 20 years.