The USS jonas Ingram was in Mayport FL and roumers started that we were going to Africa. Soon everyone was talking about it. Then it came out in the "plan of the day" that there was no truth at all to that. A month to the day we left for the Charleston shipyard where we were fitted with two salooting 20mm gun mounts on the bow.
There was no way we could cross the Atlantic on the fuel we could carry unless we went a shouter way. So we went to Trinidad refueled and went from there.
We were in Trinidad three days and I went through all the money I had and all I could barrow. Drank a lot and had fun with the fine solection of prostitutes there. In fact on my way back to the ship the last night a girl solisited me and I told her I was out of money. (true) I ended up getting a BJ for a half pack of sea store cigaretts worth 50 cents at the time.
A day out of Trinidad was payday. After I payed all the money back I
had borrowed picked up smokes, soap and all those things I had less than
a dollar. I went up on deck and started odd manning for change. Before
long I had $8. I went down in the sleeping compartment and before
morning was up $150 a good bit when I made around $120 a month at the
time. Before we hit Africa I had loaned out $500 and had that much in my
pocket. Got on a lucky streak that lasted a year. Went away and never
came back. We crossed the equator at 0000/0000 off the coast of Africa
and went through the whole ceremony and I became a shell-back. I don't
remember much of it but I have never been beat that bad before or since.
We hit Africa in Dakar and went around the coast going into every port
that was deep enough. Several things happened worth telling about but
sadly I can't remember the names of the towns they happened in. As we
pulled into port we'd come in as fast as we could and as we were coming
in would give a 21 gun salute. In this one port natives were lined up as
far as you could see until the guns started going off and by the time we
tied up there was not a black face in sight.
Every morning we had to stand in ranks in dress uniforms while our national anthem and theirs was played. In one country every thing was going OK. They played ours and then started to play theirs. Their anthem was the Bunny Hop. The record was full orchestra but it was the Bunny Hop. We were there four
days and every day 250 sailors stood at attention trying not to laugh
while they played the Bunny Hop.
They had told us that if we had contact with anyone from the soviet block we should report it. A friend and I had gone to this club overlooking the whole town. We wanted to eat but no one spoke English so it was hard to order. A man at the next table ask if he could help and we told him of our problem. He ask if we would join his party and we accepted. It turned out it was the Russian
ambassador his wife his son and sons wife. We had a good meal and he
picked up the check. We talked about life in out countries family and
nothing. The next day I told the guys on the ship and our chief about
it. About an hour later we were called up to the Security officers office.
They wanted to know why we had not reported it. I ask when the chain of
command had been done away with and told them we had told our chief and
that is how it worked. He grilled us for the next 8 hours. It only took
1 to eat! I made up my mind then that if I ever met another ambassador
I'd keep it to myself.
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