Friday, May 1, 2015

'Great Mistakes'

Here I am again ready to inflict more Crackerjack Ramblings on the unsuspecting! This yarn is woven with a bit of touchy feely foolishness so ladies, break out your hankies ‘cause this could be a tear jerker!! No not really… but you get the jest!!!

It’s been almost thirty years and I can still feel the spine splintering cold from those Great Mistakes winter months, the bone shiver’n marches back and fro BE/E school! OH… and the split moment of warmth you got crossing the steam vents up from the sidewalks!!  A jumble of them type episodes race through my brain... like an uncontrollable seizure!! Fiery, wretched, chilling & terrifying all the same!!!

Joining the ol’ Canoe Club couldn’t have made me feel any better about myself and could have possibly led to bed wetting had not someone shaken some gauddamned sense into me! It was a rude awakening to just how arduous life could really be… as though a snot nosed nineteen year old  straight from the sunshine state still wet behind the ears knows anything about ‘Life!!’ I was young and dumb and didn’t know shit from shinola… I was about to find out!!!

It started right outta High School… Dad warned me I was making a mistake! He said I’d be better suited stick’n around and taking over the family business!! But he never ‘really’ tried to talk me out of it… If you think about it, just about any ‘job’ can really suck… some worse than others!!!

Besides, we knew more than our parents about everything anyway… and wrought with the appropriate amount of reckless stupidity! Little did I know how much I’d miss the back seat doing the horizontal mambo stretching panties and part’n legs!! That’s all an average red blooded American bred male could possibly think about!! Little did I know it was gonna be lonelier than the last crème filled éclair in a dirty doughnut box!!!

It was a few months outta Boot Camp but I couldn’t seem to attach any weight to it! I was still a little lost and not quite sure what to make of it while crossing the street!! Then Winter hit and the Fat Lady Sang!!!

All of the sudden it was wintry! I remember spending many an hour stamping my feet and watching the dew off my breath!! Jack Frost had come and the wind was gauddamned despicable… like the ol’ saying… it was colder than a witches tit in a brass bra!!!

I admit… I wasn’t much of a studious young man, partly the reason for joining this outfit! We had a Chief that looked like Little Rascal’s ‘Spanky’... but I don’t rightly remember his name!  Chief ‘Spanky’ would say…

“Since books are readily available, your lack of knowledge implies a lack of interest!”

I was that kid looking out the window instead of looking at the chalkboard!

“Where you from Swing?”

“Florida, Chief!”

“Well Seaman Swing… You’re a long way from vacationing in Buttfuck, Florida… you’d better get your head outta your ass and stop think’n about ‘Suzie Rotten Crotch’… now get back to those books!”

I spent more time as a mando commando and failed more test modules than any Bluejacket in history! I swear… I’m in the Guinness Book of World Records as the dumbest twidget ever gradiated the BE/E & FC’A’ schools!! I was capable… just too damned lazy!!!

It sucked worse than an Amish Virgin! Half my liberty was gobbled up treading through subzero conditions doing the two hour mando commando shuffle between the school house and barracks!! I felt like a neutered hamster on a hamster wheel gett’n poked and prodded every step of the way!!!

I’d went from ‘Dan the Man’ to just a number standing nut-to-butt, no better & no worse than the one in front and the one behind! Always made me think of that old saying…

“Always remember that you're unique...just like everyone else!”

… But it wasn’t just on base… I reckon the town folk made sure we understood as much!! Between the salesmen buzzing in circles like flies on a plate-glass window to Waukegan Wendy shrieking at you like an escapee from a leper colony… it was rough on the ol’ self-esteem!! ‘Sailors and Dogs keep off the Grass’ was the unofficial motto!!!

And shoveling snow in that ‘brass monkey’ weather making tracks through the blizzard! Pale faces and ice encrusted brows… frozen to the gizzards type weather with five layers of Pea coat, dungaroos, thermals  and a couple sets of skivvies that didn’t make a damn bit of difference!! You wrapped yourself all up and still felt the slush forming in your veins!!!

My personal plumbing fixtures shriveled up into my kidneys! I swear at one point I got frost bite on the tip of my tally wacker!! It’s the kind of miserable pull your watch cap over your eyes with gloves the size of a catcher’s mitt kind’a cold!! OH Yeah… did I say it was cold?!?

I regress…

Then there was that juicy piece left back home! It’s damned near impossible to maintain a long distance relationship with your high school squeeze when you’re so far away!! Jules was her name… Actually Julie… she preferred Jules!! She was a cute and shapely brunette with the perfect figure and aerodynamic torpedoes for tits… that’s all I could think about… always and forever… those torpedo tits!!!

The phone calls were long and the letters even longer…

Dear Jules,
I am currently attached to the Naval Training Center here in Great Lakes… It’s right across the street from Boot Camp! I am one of hundreds of men assigned to this desolate wasteland with bone chilling weather!!  We are now in the dead of winter and totally isolated from the outside world… except for a limited extent of time each day when the city bus comes by but it’s too gauddamned cold to sit and wait for!! If it weren’t for your phone calls and letters I would surely have gone insane!! The constant howl of the wind, the bitter cold temperatures and my roommate fapping his willie in front of everyone… it would have surely driven me nuts!! You’ll hear more from me again tomorrow…


A day goes by…

Dear Jules,
Another day… another snowstorm! The grey sky is ominous today!! We haven’t had above freezing weather in nearly two months!! The wind is my enemy as it will not cease!! The others are slowly going insane… but not I!! I have you to thank for that… I am now up to phone call fifteen today!! You’re in my thoughts!


Then the next…

Dear Jules,
Today was particularly hard! We lost another shipmate!! He ran naked into the cold and barren tundra!! He cannot survive for long, as the wind chill is nearly sixty below. There are only few of us sane in this God forsaken place!! The others are growing mentally weak... but I am now up to twenty phone calls to prove my love to you… Please send money, or cannot afford to call!


Then it happened…

Jules… why did you break up with me? I don’t understand? What is that you say wind? You want me to take off my clothes and walk toward you? I will obey you great howling and frozen wind... You are my lord and master now!

… Okay… I borrowed that line from someone else… but you get the quip!!!

By this time I was like an emotionally retarded pit bull! I’m sure my incensed whining became a real drag for all my shipmates!! Looking for reasons to get outta this shithole I plotted and connived my way to medical and dental fainting sickness to get outta duty!! Yes I had become a pariah to my shipmates… even going AWOL on a few occasions thumbing a ride from Great Mistakes to Polk County Florida!!!

It was like Hell in a Hand Basket and after a couple Skippy’s Mast the Commander had had it with me! I’d been exiled to ‘X’ Division while gett’n the boot… an ‘OTH’ Discharge!! I’d realized this was all a big mistake and called my Pops to apologize for being such a miserable disgrace!! I remember shaking like a coon shitt’n a peach seed when I called him… I was so ashamed!!!

Next thing I knew I was back in the Commander’s office… he wanted a word or two! Glaring down his bulbous nose with pores so big birds could nest in, his voice ravaged like he’d been gargling gravel…

“Seaman Recruit Swing… I got off the phone with your Father… what am I to do with you?”

“Duh… I dunno Sir!”

You get stupid like that when standing tall in front of the Skipper!

“I figure I got three choices here… process you out like I had intended… send you to the fleet and make you someone else’s problem… or keep you here and place an eye on you making sure you learn a thing or two about growing up!”

“I think I like the third option if it’s alright with you Sir!”

“Well Son… Here’s the deal…”

And the next thing you knew I was back in school slicker than Vaseline on a porn star!!!

The only caveat beings I had to hang out at AA meetings and listen to people with real problems! It should be painfully obvious I was as thrilled as going to an Amway Recruiting Party!! Well… I could go listen to them, or have the grace to shut the hell up and just deal with it!! It put me in touch with my feelings… because I didn’t feel like whining anymore!!!

I tell you there’s nothing like sitt’n in on somebody else’s group therapy session! It was an eye opener taking note on how Seaman Jones got fondled at the age of twelve by his Scout Master as a Boy Scout… or how Jimmy stood by all those years watching his mother whore herself out so she could score more crack!! I figured there was nothing wrong with me… just a snot nosed punk kid that needed to mature!!!

I learned a few things… most of us get a raw deal sometime in life… it’s no honeymoon in Vegas, so just learn to deal with it! Maybe if you stop feeling sorry for your damned self… like a fine wine things get better!! And it occurred to me as plain as the zits on a Prom Queen… all I needed was a swift smack upside the head, a good kick in the proverbial ass… because you know no deed goes unpunished… just don’t quit, and make the best of it I reckon!!!

And that’s my story… Twenty-Three years later I’d retired a Chief Petty Officer… how’d you like them apples?!? Hell… If you can’t beat’em… Join’em!!!


  1. As an MMC assigned 2nd Reg., SSC in 1985 I wondered WT...? After IT school, I was assigned to the 22nd Batt. as a company commander. This was a BE/E Battalion. Later promoted to MMCS and Batt. Commander. Finished out my career on USS SAVANHA AOR-4.

  2. 3 times at Great Mistakes. FC "A" Phase 1 1980 FC "A" Phase 2 and CIWS 1982. Instructor RTC, MK86, and ET "A" 1995-1999. Who you calling a masochist? Medically retired as FC1. Used to ell the kids from warmer climates that in the event they felt themselves freezing up they should assume a proper military pose so that they would look good on the Admirals lawn until the spring thaw when their training would continue.

  3. Went to gun school in 79 (the year of the record snow) It was a little easier for me as an E-6. Not all the boot camp duties the majority of the sailors up there had. But the place sucked. I swore I would never return, and I haven't. Florida is much better.

  4. Went to FT School 64-65; now that's when you had the bone-chilling wind blowin' up yer ass off Lake Michigan. Nothing like going to Galley 5 to pick up Midrats for the 'Watch' on a rickety old bicyle while you shined a flash-light to keep from getting run over.... Day-um!!!

  5. I was there for boot camp, BE/E and FT 'A" school in winter of 72-73 . It was so cold they cancelled much of fire school training as the hoses froze up. I swear the waves on the lake were frozen in place. Worse was that they were running BE/E school in shifts and lucky me got to go at night when it was even colder marching to and from class. I do remember one of the chiefs telling all of us that the Navy had tested us and knew we were smart enough to pass. If we didn't pass it was because we were lazy and he had plenty of extra duty to cure us of that!

  6. nobody it seems has ever commented it was actually warm ever was there oct 72 till April 73 froze solid

  7. From 21Jun-23DEC73, RTC, BE&E and EM 'A' school. From the heat of the summer to the coldest of winter, Great Mistakes sucked. (Although, it wasn't as cold as getting Blue Nosed in the N.Atlantic in the fall of '76) Good thing I found and hooked that cute blonde HM WAVE I saw at the Philly airport the day I shipped out for boot. She helped me deal with the cold in more ways than one.

  8. Also from central Florida, BE/E and EM A school in 79, I'd never been so cold, at least until I got stationed at Groton, CT.

  9. MM "A" School in winter of '71-'72. -56ºF. One of the reasons I live in The Sunshine State.

  10. I was there in the winter of '79 as well (EM "C" School, I think). The amount of snow on the ground was unbelievable. It was so cold that my buddy and I would get up early, run from the barracks to the canteen, thaw out for 15 minutes, and sprint the rest of the way to class. The only other place that approached the cold was the shipyard in Bath, Maine.

  11. Winter 78-79 ET"A" school. Before they put the kibosh on POV's on base at NTC for non-rates, there was this old beater yellow car parked where steam from the heating pipes would frost it up several feet thick. The passenger side door had frozen puke all down it like icicles that lasted until spring... I confess I walked right over the fence to shortcut in and out of the base a time or two, the snowdrifts were tall and packed enough.