Every once in a while our ol’ shipmate, Owyn Bradford, tells us a tale or two of the times tossing down suds in some ratty gin joint playing drunken power fantasies and debaucherizing the women folk! It was a hell of a time wasn’t it?!?
Instead of signs written… “Sailors Stay off The Grass,” they should read …
“Do Not Feed The Drunks!”
I guess it was a lack of blood in the ol’ Migoo system, who knows!!!
So whatever happened to the days when everybody carried a lanyard and a knife onboard?!? Here Owyn explains a poignant time in his days being haze grey and underway!! It’s a good account of his past, so enjoy the read…
Hey shippy got a question what with Halloween coming up and all! Got a Sea Story about meeting a Marine at Marilyn's who was in school with me and he gave me a cigarette holder carved out of a Viet Cong’s femur!! You think that's maybe too much over the top?!? Gonna dig it out and take a pic to go with... HaHaHa!!!
Now shippies this ain't no shit! One fine autumn evening I was in Subic, sitting in Marilyn's sucking up Magoos, and I happened to be looking around and at another table when I saw this MO-reen corporal who looked mighty familiar come walking over!!
He looked up, jumped up and stuck out his hand...
"Owyn from high school! DAMN! Sit Down you Squid!"
So we went over old times, told the tales of how we got where we were right then! I bought him a shitload of rounds!! His lighter crapped out and I lit his smoke with my Snoopy lighter... He admired it!! Snoop was big just then in '66 - so I gave it to him!!!
From there we got slobbering drunk! Finally he wobbled to his feet ...
"Good to see you! Hey you been good to me, so here, take this!"
He reached into his pocket and came out with a bone cigarette holder with a little dragon carved around the outside!
"Kinda Hollywood director style ain't it?"
… I said with a laugh …
"Hey you'll be ‘Billy Badass’ with this in your mouth!"
… He shot back …
"Over in 'Nam I had four of these carved out of a piece of Charlie leg bone I brought out of the jungle!"
Well holy shit... Yeah I still got it somewheres around! Gotta dig it out so's I can spark up on Halloween night!!!
Back in the day, when Vietnam was going on and ‘Political Correctness’ wasn't even a bad dream … and we wore seafarers and either white hats or ball caps! There were two things every tar had on his person: a halyard clip key ring and a knife!! The halyard clip, scored from an obliging SM or SM striker (or "appropriated" from the flag bag) was attached to the belt loop!! A boot had one key, the key to his locker!!!
The LPO had about 'leventy gajillion’ keys and if he were to fall over the side, he'd be shaking hands with Davy Jones faster than you could say "Aye, Aye, Sir!" These rigs caught on nearly everything but they made us look and feel salty, so we put up with the inconvenience!!!
Most liked to hang them on a belt loop aft of the hip to cut down on this difficulty! The knife was a Case or Camillus with a folding marlinspike, or perhaps a 2-blade Case knife and a separate marlinspike, both kept in a leather belt sheath!! Even those who weren’t Boatswainmates loved them, because back then pop tops hadn't come around and everyone needed a way to punch holes in Coke or beer cans!! Some had a Buck One Ten and spent lots of time in berthing getting a razor edge on them!! If you were in tight with a parachute rigger, he might be cajoled into sewing you a belt sheath out of nylon parachute harness material!!!
Keys and knife, worn and displayed together, put you in a special mindset. Some of us, yours truly included, haul them around to this very day! I guess a knife like that would do wonders while helping the cook with a few spuds!!!
… Yep, sharing coffee and trading bullshit stories with fellow dungaree wearing, flee bitten salty bastards… For that I will be eternally grateful!!!