Monday, June 06, 2005

Dad's Navy Days: The Pie Story

Over the weekend, I had a chance to discuss my Memorial Day post over the phone with my good friend Vulture Six, who had the honor of knowing my father before his death. Dad and V6 got along famously because they were both Navy vets. Like I did as a child, Vulture loved to listen to my dad's Navy stories. In the time he was in the Navy, my father managed to cram in a lot of interesting experiences, and loved to regale us with memories of them. Scott is of the opinion that I shoul,d commit some of those stories to my Blog so that I can preserve them for posterity. I think it's a capital idea. So today I am going to share my favorite story:

My father was a sonarman on a destroyer in the early 60's. Back in those days, he would tell me, on a small ship like that you were often called upon to do jobs not normally associated with your rate. In my father's case, he had some experience as an electrician, so he often found himself doing wiring in addition to his sonar duties. One day, that job took him into the ship's galley (kitchen) as he rasn wiring through it.

My father's ship was one of the best run destroyers in the navy, and was the flagship of its Desron (Destroyer Squadron). This meant that in addition to the skipper of the ship, it was home to the Commodore (an officer of the Navy rank of Captain who was in command of a group of ships) of the Desron. The Commodore had on board with him his own cook, who was also busy working in the galley at the same time. He had placed out to cool two blackberry pies. I've already mentioned how dearly Oregonians love blackberries.

The Electrician's toolbox that my father was using consisted of an upper tray full of tools, and a lower compartment with two curcular cutouts to hold spools of wire. As it would happen, these circular holes were of an ideal circumference fgor holding a pie plate. When the cook was not looking, my father lifted out a spool of wire, set the pie in its place, replaced the tool tray, and continued to work. A little while later, he left the compartment to continue his work elsewhere. Late than night, while standing watch in the sonar shack, he ate the pie.

Now, the commodore's cook was no dummy, and he put two and two together. A few days later, as they were having inspection, the Commodore approached my father.

Commodore: "B., do you like pie?"
Dad: "Yes, sir, I love pie."
Commodore: "Do you like Blackberry pie, B.?"
Dad: "I'm from Oregon, sir, that's probably my favorite."
Commodore: "B.?"
Dad: "Yes, sir?"
Commodore: "My cook would like his pie plate back."
Dad: "Aye aye, sir!"

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