Yorktown Photo Lab Christmas Card 1969
Boy, did we get into trouble over this. I
We all looked forward to hitting the beach in Europe to get laid by some nice
white girls (if truth be told). Many of us had Dads who served in the Army in
"the Big One" and we wanted to see what Europe was all about, since they all
told us of the good times but left out the stories of their buddies getting
blown to hell and facing the Nazi guns.
As most of my buddies were photographers, we wanted to scarf up some German camera gear or something at cheaper prices.
But one strange duck, a "white crow" as the Germans would call him, searched all over Kiel Germany and came back with his prize...A COO COO CLOCK! He was a PH3 from one of the squadrons. He was the type who could never take a joke, had a very brittle personality and felt deeply insulted with the usual male bonding/practical joking that took place on a US Navy ship around the clock. You could put a wig on him and a dress and he would be the perfect, most extreme bitch. He thought his new purchase was splendid. He hung it up in the photo lab on the bulkhead and pulled down the weights and and sat there and marveled at this fine German craftsmanship. We all thought he was crazy.
But wait, there's more! (as they say in the info commercials).
2/3 of the division was at liberty in Germany leaving just one E3 to watch the photo-lab. I was in my dress blues and had to run up to the photo lab to get something before I hit the beach. I turned the door knob BUT THE PHOTOLAB WAS LOCKED.
In my 3 years plus on board aircraft carriers I don't remember the door to that photo lab ever being locked! As a PH2 I had a key and swiftly opened the door only to see the very quiet, very large muscular sailor E3 Bauer admiring himself in the mirror, wearing a Nazi German Army uniform, with a tiny little mustache drawn under his nose, his hair was combed at an angle across his forehead and he was holding a big stick that we used to stir our 20 gallon tank of developer.
I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. He looked at me very alarmed that I saw him like this. Apparently, when he had liberty earlier in our visit in Germany, he found a junk shop that sold him a Nazi uniform under the table, as I am sure such items were outlawed in Germany in the late sixties.
I got my shit and got the hell out of there. He had about 100 pounds on me and it was all muscle. He was the VERY QUIET TYPE who never said two words to you and today I see him dressed up like Der Fuehrer!
I didn't want to say anything to him or even look at him directly or make eye contact for fear he would mistake me for Poland for something and beat the living shit out of me with the chemical stiring rod.
Looking back...to think we all shared the same berthing spaces with these psychos and slept helplessly and innocently through the night. (Hey Pat, should I tell the VA about this? Sounds like a genuine "Stressor" for PTSD, eh?)
The Yorktown tied up at Yakoska Japan several times and it was just a train ride away from Tokyo. A group of us, wearing our US Navy dress blues, went to Tokyo to see the bright lights. We stopped off at the largest Tokyo Department Store in Japan's crowded big city. After shopping there for a while, we went out the front door and stood under the big overhang of the Department Store and hailed a taxi cab. We told the Japanese driver "take us to the USO" He kept saying NO NO NO. We said, "we'll pay you what do you want?' He kept saying "No no no!" Finally, we paid him and in advance.
About six Yorktown sailors stuffed ourselves into that tiny cab and the driver stepped on the gas. He made a quick left turn, then another quick left turn down the big alley behind the department store. I looked out the window to see hundreds of Japanese faces flash by and the neon signs of Tokyo. He made a couple of turns and suddenly and before you know it; our final stop.
We get out and go inside the building of the USO. Its on the second floor. We all buy a coke and I wander around to look at things. I walk over to the window to look out at Tokyo and what do I see?
Right across the street from the USO is the Department Store entrance where we just left! The cab driver took us down an alley, down a couple of streets and dropped us off across the street from where he picked us up!
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