This one comes from an ol’ Boiler Tech named Wally Erspamer during the Sixties Era! My how things have changed…
We were onboard Preble for about a month before the commissioning in 1960! During this time Engineering was lighting the plant off and securing it each day getting used to the systems and learning our jobs!! At the time there were only two BT's that had any experience with ACC (Automatic Combustion Control) boilers, but the rest of us had no ACC experience!!!
On one of those days the after plant was lit off and carrying the electrical load while we (forward fire room) were attempting to light off and transfer the load to the forward generator plant! We were experiencing some difficulties with the burners (I was watching the feed pumps so I don't know exactly what the problem was) and BT1 was running around the fire room like a lost ball in tall weeds trying to solve the problem!! While BT1 was running around, one of our Firemen attached himself to BT1 and followed him everywhere he went like stink on shit!!!
Now BT1 ignored the Fireman for the most part but the rest of us could tell that he was getting flustered at not being able to solve the problem! At one point BT1 was looking into the firebox of 1B boiler and the Fireman was leaning over his shoulder trying to see what BT1 was looking at!! That's when the aft plant dropped the electrical load and we were plunged into darkness except for the battle lanterns!!!
In the dark, BT1 backed up and stumbled over the Fireman! The only thing he said…
"Gauddamn it, Shithead go get me a bucket of sunshine!!"
Well, the lights came back within a few minutes and the rest of us kind of snickered at BT1’s remark but the Fireman was nowhere to be found! Needless to say that didn't bother BT1 as he was still frustrated over the problem we were having getting that boiler lit off!! Eventually the problem was solved, we got the plant up and running and the load shifted forward!!!
A couple of hours later the Fireman came back down the ladder with an empty bucket in his hand and tears in his eyes...
“BT1, I can’t find a bucket of sunshine.”
… The rest of us nearly shit ourselves laughing …
“Boy, you’d forget your balls if they didn’t come in a bag your dumb as shit!”
You know we had a time with the young Fireman after that little incident! He was one of those fellas whose belt didn’t quite make it through all the hoops if you catch my drift!! I guess he must’ve been the result of too much chlorine in the gene pool!!!
We had so many fun filled escapades with him! We even sent him to the bridge with a bucket of grease to grease the relative bearing once and the XO caught him there sending him to DC Central!! We almost lost it when we found out the XO had a sense of humor!!!
In today’s Canoe Cabaret the velvet noose of political correctness ensures that only appropriate behavior can be practiced! This form of hazing was pretty common back in the day!! But you don’t want to trigger somebody and have them running to their ‘safe space’… then again maybe that’s where the Fireman was all that time!!!