Can you still hear the sounds … smell the stench of eighty other bodies … while trying to bury yourself in that sweaty pillow?!? Then it came …
“Reveille, Reveille … All Hands Heave Out And Trice UP … Now Reveille!”
“Breakfast For The Crew!”
Reveille would go down and you just laid there ... missing out on breakfast while making any excuse you could pull out of your ass to get a few more winks of shut eye! That was until someone told you to get your ass up! Which was usually Puckett … the ‘Super LPO’…!! It would be my gauddamned luck to have the top rack right over the Senior First Class in charge of me!!!
That’s when you knew it was time to get up and slide on your dungarees! If it weren’t for that vent duct, potable water pipe, or some gauddamned valve stem smacking you upside the head as soon as you tried to go vertical …
“Son-of-a-Bitch That Hurt!”
… Trust me when I say a valve stem can leave one hell of a mark! I was just lucky I never put my eye out!! I didn’t even mention the flickering fluorescence of the lights once Reveille went down!!!
Then there came the incredible task of jumping out of that son-of-a-bitch! Now you figure I was about ‘five foot seven’ and the top rack was higher than I stood tall… on a step stool!! Now mix in about three or four busy bodies underneath you in and out of their racks flinging wet towels, butt naked and packed together like a sardine can trying to get ready for morning Quarters!!!
You had to be an Olympic Grand Gymnast or Ringling Trapeze Artist to make the landing! It wasn’t wise to be sleepy, drunk or hung-over when tempting to put both feet solid on the deck below!! And I usually fell in at least two of those categories on any given morning!!!
Needless to say I was inevitably one of the last shipmates out of berthing heading up for Quarters! As soon as it fell a bit silent I knew I was free to slap on my dungaroos, shoot towards the head and get me a quick shave while slicking back that mop on my head and a shot of mouthwash to calm the fermentation brewing between my tonsils … that’s from the night before!! A shipmate could look like a shipwreck at 0730 in the morning!!!
“All Hands To Quarters For Muster, Instruction And Inspection!”
“Damn that was loud and I’ve got a throbbing headache!”
Then I’d show up all red faced and puffy eyed looking like something the cat dragged in! I was about as feral as a Sailor could be!! First time I ever heard Chief Cavanaugh say …
“Swing! If you’re gonna hoot with the owls at night you’d better be able to soar with the eagles in the morning! You understand what I’m saying?!?”
He’d cock his head back and shake his head in disapproval with his arms crossed, but I never got put on report! I suppose I was one of the lucky ones … then again, Beaver, Robinson, Hoz and a few of the Gunnersmates were also guilty as charged on several occasions so what could they really say?!?
I suppose those were some of the lessons I’d learned in my early days … That was before all the alcohol deglamorization hogwash! I reckon something had to give!! I always wondered how the other half of the service survived … you know, the Army, Chair Force and Marines!! They’d have to paint arrows on the sidewalks if they expected the drunks to make it to morning Quarters!!!