port since before Christ and the town looks much as it did then. Ivory
and ebony are the big deal (1959) and you see it everyplace. Every shop
every bar even street vendors all are selling Ivory and ebony pieces.
Things that could be sold for thousands go for $50-$100. Seamen from all
the world are all over. Not the big ships you think of but small ships
some with sails. The crews look like a page out of history also. Hands
missing, ears gone, half dressed, bare foot like out of a bad dream.
And the smell! 100f and 100% humidity. The rotten smell of the jungle
mixed with open sewers.
So I decide this would be a good place to get drunk with a lot of
money on me and make sure every one knew I had it.
That was not my original plan. What I thought I'd do was take some money
over and buy some of that ivory and ebony I had been looking at. I had
seen a chess set that was wonderful. Not big but carved much better than
most. I had the man talked down to $100 and a bargain at that. Because
of work I got off the ship late carrying about $400 as I was going
shopping for other stuff also. When I got to the shop I was late and he
I thought I'd have a drink or two and decide what to do next.
What I decided to do was have another drink. And another, and another
and..........well you get the idea. The last I remember I was playing poker
above a bar with a bunch of those sailors I told you about. The guy with
the ear missing and the one with a hook in place of a hand were in the
game. Were all betting big..opening $10 and such. Drinking hot rice
wine, sweat dripping, stinking ass ed drunk playing cards like dollars
The next thing I knew I came to on the ship, in my bunk and
it's morning. As soon as I could I took inventory. Both hands, feet ears
and eyes in place. No new damage to the body except a hang over. Found
my billfold on the floor empty but my papers OK. $400 gone but i felt
lucky just to be alive.
I picked up my uniform off the floor and I had just less than $1,000
in it. I WON?!?!?!? A $1000 in 1959 money would be over $10,000 today.
The next day I did get my chess set, got drunk several years later and lost it.
So off for home. We stopped in Capetown to refuel stayed one night and
I stayed on the ship. I had the lighting off watch the next morning so I
got up at 3:30am. I went to the mess hall to get coffee and a mess cook
came running in shouting Bill Baily's dead! Bill Bally was a cook on the
ship. He got up went to the head (rest room) took a pee, grabbed his
chest and died of an acute hangover. Bill did drink a bit. If we (the ship)
reported it to the authorities in Capetown we'd have had to stay for days so
we wrapped him in plastic and put him in the freezer for the ride home.
So with tears in my eyes I said good by to Africa. Glad I saw it, never care to see it again.
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