Copyright © 1999 Ronald D. Stalma
Sailors and Marines
Back on Mare Island, when I was on the Springer, I was coming off of liberty one time. I was in a cab that stopped at the gate, because the Marine Sergeant on duty was supposed to search us before coming back in. As I started to get back into the cab after the search, he tried to shove me in. I said to him, "What's your hurry." He then replied, "There isn't any hurry, sailor", he jerked me back, and told me to stand there for awhile. He came back out of the gate house about an hour later, and said "Are you in a hurry yet?" I replied "Nope." This went on for a few hours, until it was getting late. The Marine Sergeant was getting annoyed with me. He called up his Captain, and told him that he had a whole list of charges against me, and that he wanted to throw me into the brig. The Captain came in a jeep to pick me up. First, he took me to the Infirmary. The Medical Officer was required to give you an exam, before they put you into the brig. So I went in, and the Medical Officer took me into another room to examine me. He looked over the list of the charges against me, and he asked me what I did. I told him what happened and he left fora moment; then, he came back in with the Marine Captain. He said, "This man can't go to the brig. He has to be hospitalized". So the Captain called up the Sergeant and told him what the doctor said. I overheard him raising his voice on the phone saying, "And in the meantime, I'm losing a lot of sleep over this." The Sergeant ended up dropping the charges, and the Captain left. The doctor said; "You know, they were waiting for you down at the brig with billy clubs." So, he released me and I went back to the ship. Every time after that when I went on liberty, I looked for that sergeant, but I never found him. Lucky for him!! It seemed like those Marines didn't like us Sailors very well.
Another time, I was in a bar called "Jacks", in Vallejo California, near Mare Island. It was crowded in there, with mostly Marines. There was one other Sailor beside me, sitting at the bar. He was short, only about 5'8" tall. There weren't any empty chairs, and he was minding his own business, when a big Marine walked in. He came over and said to the sailor, "You're in my chair, get up out of there." So, the Sailor got up and proceeded to beat the cockiness out of that Marine. None of the other Marines raised a finger to help their friend. That little Sailor fought like he had been boxing for years! He knocked that big Marine out cold, sat down, finished his beer, then got up and walked out!
We were in Tsingtao China for a while, and some of us decided to spend some time a bar on a Saturday night. Later that night, more of the guys from the Sea Dog joined us, and one of them happened to be the yeoman. (See the picture of the gang) We were carrying on as sailors usually do, and ended up staying there all night. The next day was Sunday, and usually, we didn't have roll call on that day. Come morning, one of the Sea Dog's officers needed some paper work done. He decided to search for the yeoman and couldn't find him. He realized some of us were missing, so he had roll call and caught us all!"
For punishment, we were restricted to the ship for a month, and also we were to paint the topside of Sea Dog. (See Painting photo). So we did what most sailors might do - figure out an easy way to do it! We hired a gang of Chinamen to help, and we painted the deck in one day! After the restriction was over, the captain threw a big party for us, and invited the whole crew (Click to view). Boy, he was really a good captain! Well the rest of the crew were upset because he threw a party for us after restriction was over, so they never showed up for the party!! (See the photos in Seadog's Photo section)
Fight In Tsingtao China
I remember another time we were docked at Tsingtao. I ate some food that was bad while on liberty. Man did I get sick. I decided to go back to the ship by myself, so I went outside of the restaurant where the rickshaw driver was waiting. I got in to the rickshaw, and headed back to the ship. Halfway there, the driver stopped and said that he wanted five dollars to take me back to the ship. I told him that I wasn't going to give him five dollars because it only cost me one dollar to get there. He got mad, and grabbed my hat and started running. I took off chasing him, and soon after there were a whole gang of Chinamen chasing me! When they caught up with me I started to fight them off. Then the shore patrol came barreling through the crowd in a jeep, and yelled at me to jump in. They took me back to the ship, and I had so much blood on my whites that the pharmacist mate made me strip down to see if I was hurt. I didn't have one cut on me, so I guess it was from the Chinamen that I was fighting!