Monday, November 05, 2012

My Dad

This is Dad, in his navy uniform. He was called up in WWII, went to Great Lakes training center, and then off to New Caledonia in the South Pacific. He was a torpedo repairman. Which always seemed strange to me, as a child. Why would a torpedo need to be repaired? They would either blow up or not, if they didn't then wouldn't then be lost at the bottom of the sea?
Now I know that this is what they do:
Torpedoman's mates maintain underwater explosive weapons such as torpedoes, rockets and missiles and the systems used to launch them. They are also responsible for the safe loading and unloading, shipping and storage of these weapons.

Dad told us that his job made him very popular, because he had access to the grain alcohol fuel used in the torpedo motors. He swore that he himself had never indulged, but that others had bartered with him for fuel to use in making 'torpedo juice', a sometimes lethal mix of fuel and pineapple juice.  Could be true: Dad did love his beer, but never was one for stronger drinks. The only drink I ever saw him with, other than beer, was his 'cold remedy'. He'd buy a bottle of Mogen David wine, in the old squat jug; pour himself a jelly glass * full, chug it down, break out in a sweat, go to bed, and wake up better.
Dad told us he used the bartered goods to make little stoves. That he would then barter again. Those barter skills came in handy, after the war, when he was trying to take care of a family of 7 on quarry wages. We never had new bikes, but we always had bikes. He'd find broken ones at the town dump, take the good parts and make them into a 'new' bike.

*If you're not old enough to remember this: jelly used to be sold in jars that could then be used as drinking glasses when the jelly was gone.  And they were good, heavy glasses. We went through a lot of jelly in our house. So we had a cupboard full of jelly glasses.

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