Always On The Go!
By Tom Hayes
served on the Noxubee from Aug '51 until Mar '53. She was my first
ship and I still remember the day I reported aboard in Norfolk 50
years ago.---I loaded my seabag and myself into the back of a pickup
truck at the receiving station for the ride down to the pier. When we
got there my first impression was, "where in hell is the
ship?" It was low tide and the tank deck/ quarterdeck was way
below pier level. The next thing that caught my eye was a large sign
mounted midships on the catwalk life rails. It proclaimed in large red
letters. VIETATO FUMARE!
Hmmm, very strange, is this really a U.S.Navy vessel? I learned
later it means NO SMOKING! in Italian. It seems the dockworkers in
Italy where Noxubee spent a lot of time didn't appreciate the fact
that the smoking lamp should be out while pumping AVGAS. They'd light
off one of their little crooked stinking black cigars any time they
wanted. This caused a previous CO loss of sleep. Hence the sign.
Noxubee was definitely different. I climbed down the 45 degree
sloped brow, reported aboard, and began one of the greatest
experiences of my life. I was a 19 year old SA so I was assigned to
the deck force and worked in the 1st division on the fo'c'sle. BMC
Campese was in charge up there and he promptly sent me back aft to the
galley for a 90 day mess cooking tour.
When I checked in at the galley I was plugged into the scullery
where I spent a good part of my time in a cloud of steam which wasn't
much fun when we got to Gitmo. The potato peeler (machine) helped
matters somewhat by conking out. I became its replacement which gave
me a chance for a breather topside in the fresh air and sunshine while
peeling spuds at the rate of 100 lbs per day.
Noxubee moved over to Craney Island to take on a load shortly after
I came aboard. We then got under way for Bermuda to deliver it. So my
first morning at sea (after doing my breakfast scullery bit) found me
seated on an upturned bucket on the fantail, a potato peeler in my
hand and a 100 lb sack of spuds by my side. We were out in the Gulf
Stream where the sea is bright, bright, blue. The porpoises and flying
fish began leaping out of the water around the ship and I was happy as
a Rhode Island clam, mess cook or not. I had wanted to go to sea since
I was 12 or13 years old and this suited me just fine. I served on four
more ships and never did get tired of watching the sea. So I mess
cooked for the next three months as the zubee went down to Gitmo
(Cuba) for underway training and then across the Atlantic to begin a 9
month Med cruise.
After mess cooking I went back on the deck force where BMC Campese
and his main man BM2 Smith got busy turning me into an all-around
fully qualified seaman. I started standing helm watches and manning
the boats. I had previous boat handling experience so qualified as
boat coxswain pretty quick. If I had known what Narragansett Bay is
like in the winter, I wouldn't have been so happy about that.
Noxubee may have
been a service force work horse but she was a Man 'O War as well.
Noxubee's skipper was a mustang LT. named Johnnie J. Wilkes during my
time aboard and he was real gung ho about gunnery practice. He sent
all the gun crews through the gunnery school at Dam Neck, VA and had
us put in a lot of practice time on the dummy 3 inch practice gun
mount on the boat deck. He was ready, willing and eager to fight the
ship if the chance arose--(I think he wanted to be a destroyer skipper
but what the hell, ya gotta go with what ya got.) We also practiced
live firing fairly often. My battle station was hot shell man on mount
31. New guys are always plugged in where they can do the least damage.
(Better an expended shell casing dropped than a live round.) I was
given a pair of arm length padded asbestos mittens.
"Here, wear these things, they'll keep you from getting
burnt too bad when you catch them red hot shell casings."
" But don't worry, the doc's got plenty of petrolatum and stuff
in sick bay."
"Jeez, thanks Guns, that's very reassuring"
"Soon as the first loader rams the round into the breech he steps
back, you move in behind the breech and catch the shell casing on the
recoil when the gun fires."
"Stand close but not too close, if the breech block hits you in
the head it'll really ring your gong big time."
"Remember, the recoil is 11 inches."
"Don't miss, we can't have loaders dancing around bouncing shell
"Soon as you catch the casing, fling it over the splinter shield
clear of the gun tub and get ready for the next one."
"Yhere's not a moment to lose" "Got It?"
"Good, get in there."
and that's all there is to being a hot shell man.
I've carried a lot of great memories of the Noxubee ever since I
left her in 1953. I'm amazed how vivid they remain after all these
years. Reading the other shipmate's recollections has reminded me of a
lot more experiences. It wasn't all fun and games, of course.
I'd just as soon forget about being so tired that I could fall
asleep standing up. I often skipped chow for a noonday nap, which, for
a real chowhound, says a whole lot (Three things a good sailor will
never miss---Chow call, Liberty call, and Payday) I could flake out
and crap out on a moment's notice anytime anywhere whenever the
opportunity arose, and I still can, for that matter. I guess most
sailors acquire this ability, I remember seeing a snipe in the engine
room cutting some serious ZZZZZZZ's while propped up against one of
the main propulsion diesels as it was hammering away.
Running boats back and forth across Narragansett Bay from Jamestown to
Newport in the dead of winter was another experience I wouldn't mind
forgetting. Running boats at night through the sea smoke, snow
squalls, fog, freezing spray and 2 kt. tidal currents with only a boat
compass to help find the bell buoys was no picnic as anyone who's
tried it will tell you. Boat crews would arrive at the fleet landing
coated in ice from head to toe. Lips would get chapped and stay
cracked and bleeding with salt water sores from Thanksgiving till they
finally healed about Easter time.
I was looking for some adventure and the Navy obliged me. One thing
I really liked about the Navy was the way a young sailor would be
entrusted with serious responsibility early on. When the coxswain
shoved off in the MWB he was on his own with full responsibility for
the boat and for the safety of his passengers. ----- No boat officers
rode along in charge of Noxubee boats like they did on the birdfarms
and other large combatants.
Newport harbor was alive and swarming with Navy ships and boats in the
early '50's. Practically the entire cruiser- destroyer force had to
anchor out in the middle of the bay before the destroyer piers were
built. Noxubee would moor to Mike 19 on the west side of the bay near
the Jamestown ferry landing. If she was gas-free she had a berth at
the foot of long wharf, a few minutes from Leo's First and Last Stop,
which was pretty handy. Mike-19 was a 10ft diameter mooring buoy. My
special sea detail was to man it when mooring the ship. The MWB would
tow a hawser out to the buoy and drop J.T.Cahill and myself off on it.
We would reeve the hawser through a big ring in the middle of the buoy
and the MWB would return to the ship with the bitter end of the hawser
and bend it onto one of the anchor chains. The crew on deck would
heave around on the inboard end of the hawser with the capstan and
haul the ship up to the buoy so we could shackle the anchor chain onto
the mooring ring.
The only problem with this handy maneuver was the mooring buoy was
covered an inch deep with seagull shit, rotting fish scraps and other
unfinished seagull meals. If there was much of a breeze, and there
almost always was, the waves slapping against the buoy would send
spray onto the seagull guano so it was nice and soupy, slimy, and
slippery. I'll not mention the flies and smell. When the fo'c'sle crew
heaved around on the hawser the buoy would lay over till its top was
almost vertical. The only way to stay aboard was to lay down, wrap
your arms around the mooring ring, and wallow about in the guano. When
we got back to the ship everyone would quickly move to windward.
Another choice chore for the focsle crew was flaking down the
anchor chain. This job was usually awarded to whoever had recently
screwed up the most. I qualified on a number of occasions. One time
I'll never forget happened in Naples, (lots of things happened in
Naples) My #1 liberty buddy Cahill and myself pulled a little caper
which seriously aggravated the exec who aggravated the first
lieutenant who aggravated BMC Campese who,--- well, you get the idea.
Noxubee got underway early the morning following this episode and
Cahill and myself, hung over and sick, found ourselves removing the
dozen or so nuts from the chain locker access plate.
The deal here was to climb into the chain locker and flake down the
anchor chain as it came down the hawse from the anchor windlass by
using some big hooks to pull it back and forth athwartships. This was
done so the chain wouldn't pile up, fall over on itself, and jam back
up into the hawsepipe in a big ball the next time the anchor was
dropped. The main problem with this particular job was bottom muck.
Naples had bottom muck that had been accumulating and rotting for over
2000 years. It was really ripe! It would stick to the chain and
couldn't be hosed off completely. Some evil-smelling gobs would come
off in the hawsepipe to plop onto the heads of those poor unfortunates
down below in the chain locker. I can still hear Cahill retching and
railing at the injustice of it all.-----PLOP!----- "A little
simple fun, for chrissake! OROARK! Good for morale! GUS!" "Ya
got that right, UURRK!"
One of the fixtures in Newport harbor in those days was the USS
Vulcan AR-5 She stayed moored on her coffee grounds a short way off
Goat Island. The Noxubee went along side her one day and tied up in
the same spot recently vacated by a large garbage scow. Shortly
afterwards two messcooks on the Vulcan struggled topside with a
brimfull 15 gal. garbage can. They wrestled it to the rail and, before
looking, disgorged the contents down the garbage chute. The CMAA
happened to be stepping out of the aft end of the crew's mess just as
this incredible torrent of garbage came cascading out of the heavens
to splatter all over Noxubee's fantail right before his incredulous
eyes. As soon as he recovered from the initial shock he looked up at
the two mess cooks peering down at him and bellowed, "What the
f--- do you people think you're doing?" One of the mess cooks
said, "Sorry, chief, We thought you was a garbage scow".
I'll let you imagine the response that generated.
I'll run these memories by you as they occur to me, This happened
during the '51-'52 med cruise: I had a really great experience in
Naples. The coxswain was Charley Parks BM3. We made a run into the
fleet landing, when we got there and tied up, a young American couple
came over to the boat. They were newlyweds on their honeymoon cruise
and were in a hellava fix, the gal was bawling her heart out. They had
got lost in town and their ship had sailed without them. It was just
clearing the inner harbor bound for the Suez Canal with all their
baggage and money aboard. (No credit cards back in those days.) They
begged us to take them out to the ship. I've got to give Charley
credit, the OD's orders were: "Make the fleet landing, and return
to the ship". This could have got him in hot water but he didn't
hesitate. We loaded them into the MWB and took off after the ship. I
didn't think we had a chinaman's chance in hell of catching it but it
was worth a try.
We cleared the breakwater with everybody waving like crazy. We tied
the gal's white sweater to the boathook and started waving that. The
ship rang up all ahead full and started pulling away. The situation
wasn't looking very good. We were a mile astern her and losing ground.
We were just about ready to give it up when they spotted us. The ship
backed down and stopped. We ran up alongside with hundreds of
passengers lining the rail on the ship and giving us a great big
cheer. The ship's crew dropped a jacob's ladder and a line for their
hand bags out a cargo hatch in the hull and we had them aboard safe
and sound in a jiffy. Yessir! The United States Navy saves the day
once again! --- it really felt great!
I have a lot more memories, some of the names may have faded away,
But many faces and places are still vividly clear. My girlfriend in
Napoli will always remain a 19 year old beauty in my memory. Ah! where
are you, Giovanna?
Noxubee encountered a number of sand storms while alongside the
mole in Tripoli or sailing along off the African coast. (They're
called sand storms but they're actually dust, like tan talcum powder).
The ventilators sucked the dust into the ship where it made little
piles in the corners everywhere. The Ghibli (Sirocco) blew out of the
Sahara for days at a time with 100º F temperatures and close to zero
humidity. The wind could dry out your eyeballs if you weren't careful.
Sweat evaporated soon as it squirted out and dungarees got white and
crusty with salt from the dried sweat. Fresh water was in short supply
which limited showers and made the crew real salty at times.
The engineering spaces had high humidity with even hotter
temperatures. I don't know how the engineers stood it. When the
smoking lamp was out. (often) I'd go down to the engine room for a
smoke break and be standing in a puddle of sweat in 5 minutes flat. My
Bull Durham roll-your-own cigarettes soaked up sweat from the inboard
end and extinguished themselves half smoked. Damn! It was enough to
put you onto Chewin' Tobacco.
I tried that for awhile. Nothing like chawin' a big cud of Mail
Pouch or Red Man to cure a nicotine deficiency. Quite a few shipmates
took up chewing, or at least dipped snuff. So then there's the problem
of where to spit. Spittin' on deck is absolutely a no-no. Spittin' to
windward can ruin your entire day if it blows back into your eye or
worse, the chief's eye. The only solution here is to carry a little
spit kit around which is a big pain. I dunno, If it ain't one damned
thing it's another. I gave up chawin' in short order as did most
others. Oh well,--enough whining for awhile.
Sunrises and sunsets in the Med were the most beautiful I've seen
anywhere. I think that the dust blowing out of africa filtered the
sunlight to create an incredible pallette of pastels, gorgeous blues,
golden yellows, oranges, reds, violets, deep purples. The light had a
glowing, lambent quality that I haven't seen since. It could be that
microscopic bits of mica in the air caused it. I was always struck by
the stark contrast between the artificial flourescent lighting, the
flat white, bilious green, and machinery grey colors inside the ship
and the beautiful ever-changing color displays of the surrounding sea
One afternoon Noxubee had passed through the straits of Messina
(between Italy and Sicily) bound for Naples and had arrived a few
miles east of Stromboli at sunset. The island of Stromboli is an
active volcano with a perfectly formed cone. I was sitting in the
crew's mess when I happened to glance through a porthole. The sky was
a beautiful lavender color so I went topside to watch the sun go down.
This was where I saw the most beautiful sunset ever. The sea and air
were calm and Stromboli was sending a thin plume of smoke aloft. It
went straight up through the still air for a few thousand feet where
it spread out horizontally to form a brilliant golden parasol over the
island. The sun dipped below the horizon and the sea and sky and
Stromboli with her smoke plume put on an incredibly beautiful display
of color that is far beyond my ability to describe. Paydays on the
Noxubee may not have been so great but there were many other rewards.
That beautiful sunset which has decorated my memory bank for the past
50 years is only one of many such unforgettable experiences.
Yes indeed, in the words of an old song: "I've got fortunes in
memories" from my time aboard the Noxubee.
a fair wind and following seas to all---Tom
Far Away Places
By Tom Hayes
|Back when I was a kid in high school, one of my
all time favorite recordings was "Far Away Places" sung
by Margaret Whiting. It still is a favorite, come to think of it.
"Far away places with strange sounding names, Far away over
the sea. Those far away places I keep hearing about, calling, calling,
me. Going to China, or Maybe Siam, I want to see for myself. Those far
away places I've been reading about, in a book, that I took, from the
shelf. I keep getting restless whenever I hear, the whistle of a
train, I pray for the day, I can get underway, and look for those
castles in Spain. They call me a dreamer and maybe I am, but I know
that I'm longing to see, those far away places with the
strange-sounding names, calling, calling me".
The Navy recruiting posters back then were a straightforward call
JOIN THE NAVY AND SEE THE WORLD!
That struck the right chord with me so I quit high school after 3
years and joined the Navy at age 17. After boot camp and dropping out
of ET school, (I made it thru later on my next enlistment.) I was
Transferred to the boathouse crew at NTC GREAT LAKES. When My tour
ended there and I finally got my chance to go to sea, the old salty
bos'n mates at the boathouse advised me. "Join the Dungaree Navy,
kid, put in for a small auxiliary". Good advice. I followed it
and got the Noxubee. I could hardly have done better. She was a real
steamer and always on the go, poking her bow into all kinds of far
away places. So when I went aboard the Noxubee and the word was
passed, "MAKE READY FOR SEA, STOW ALL LOOSE GEAR, MAKE ALL
PREPARATIONS FOR GETTING UNDERWAY" "CAST OFF ALL
LINES FORE AND AFT", and then, when the last mooring line
made it's splash. "UNDERWAY, SHIFT COLORS" and
Noxubee departed Norfolk bound for Bermuda, my dream of going to sea
to see the world was coming true at last. it wouldn't be an easy life,
far from it, but the Noxubee was a home and a feeder and I had my own
cozy bunk that I could strap myself into when the seas ran high and
$90 a month to spend when we pulled into port. Hey, what more does a
19 year old sailor need? (an 8oz draft beer cost 10 cents in Leo's
First and Last Stop back then.)
Here's a list of the ports Noxubee visited while I was aboard. Some
of them were visited several times.
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Gulf Juan, France
La Spezia, Italy
Pireaus, (Athens) Greece
Souda Bay, Crete
Marsaxlokk, Malta (20 min. to Valletta)
New York, NY
Tours were arranged while in port so other places could be visited: I
went on tours to Rome, Paris, Pompeii, Pisa, and Sabratha in Libya.
Also took a trip up Mt. Vesuvius in Naples and Mt. Etna in Sicily.
Some other tours were available, one which I wish I had taken was a
tour around the island of Cyprus. and one I didn't mind missing was a
wild boar hunt in Turkey. I much preferred pursuing the sort of
wildlife found at the Snake Pit in Naples, John Bull's in Pireaus or
The Al Jolson Bar at the foot of the Gut in Valletta, Malta. Public
transportation was pretty good almost everywhere. The entire French
Riviera from Cannes to Nice to Monte Carlo was within reach from Golfe
Juan even on a Cinderella liberty.
began to fall in love with the French Riviera before ever setting foot
ashore there or even seeing it for that matter, except for the coastal
lights from sea. I had the 04-0800 lookout watch as Noxubee was
entering Golfe Juan for her first visit there with me aboard. We
slowed to bare steerageway awaiting first light before moving in to
anchor. As if on cue, a gentle land breeze wafted out to welcome us
bringing the fragrance of a million flower blossoms, an agreeable
change from the donkey dung odor of Tripoli. Dawn lightened the
eastern sky. The sun's first rays set the distant snowy peaks ablaze
in fiery rose and gold.The early morning light flowed downward over
the foothills to the sleeping shore. It flooded the land in a lovely
lavender light mirrored in a molten purple sea. The red tile roofs
along the shore emerged thru the violet veil of sea mist as the
enchanting panorama was magically revealed in the brightening dawn. A
church bell tolled on the beach as we entered the tranquil anchorage.
I fell forever in love with the place.
Noxubee's Med cruise was an educational experience as well as an
adventure. When my high school classmates were college freshmen
looking at 4th rate artbook reproductions and listening to boring
lectures in art orientation 101, my shipmates and me were standing in
front of the original masterpieces by Raphael, Michaelangelo,
Leonardo, Donatello, Caravaggio and the ancient Greek and Roman
Masters in the Vatican Museum, the Louvre, and the National
archeological museums at Naples and Athens. When they were looking at
B&W photos of the Parthenon, Pompeii and Pisa We were exploring
the actual sites and enjoying the view from the top of the leaning
tower at Pisa (kinda scary).
Aside from a first rate introduction to western art and culture.
the crew picked up a highly useful assortment of survival skills while
interacting with the locals. You had to be mighty nimble and quick
when dealing with any of these middle eastern rug merchants, bum boat
operators, "guides", money changers, peddlers, cab drivers,
assorted venders and other characters on the lookout for a fast buck.
Constantly dealing with different kinds of '"funny money"
kept things real interesting. ---- Francs, Lire, Drachmas, Turkish
Lirasi, British, Maltese, Cypriot and Libyan Pounds. They all had to
be converted into and from the Yankee Dollar off the top of your head
on the spot. If you didn't stay up to speed on this, you would be
taken to the cleaners molto subito.
Tripoli, Libya, where we spent the most inport time was the best
training ground for dealing with the money changing game. Tripoli had
four main currencies in circulation at the same time. The Yankee
Dollar, British Pound, Italian Lira, and the Kingdom of Libya Pound
that was being phased in. They also had script money issued by the
British called MAL (Military Authority in Libya) that was being phased
out. Each had a different rate of exchange with the US dollar and when
you made a purchase your change could come back in any combination of
A simple example: I bought a sheepskin for 1875 lire and handed the
guy $10 american. He handed me the sheepskin, $5 american and 1250
lire back in change. Hmmmm---- Was he trying to fleece me? Ans. Nope,
$1= 625 lire. You can figure it out. Actually US dollars seldom came
back in change. They kept them if they could. Now, you might ask, What
would he want with a sheepskin? Well, one evening after quaffing a few
liters of warm Oea bee at the British NAAFI in Tripoli, I encountered
a peddler selling full sized sheepskin fleeces. I got a bright idea:
"Why go to college, I can get a sheepskin right here for $3 US.
I was very rudely awakened early next morning with the goddam thing
wrapped around my head. I rolled out of my rack, lurched to my feet
and Clawed my way out from under it. "My God! What is that
horrible stench? My eyes are waterin, WHEW!" "Camel piss,
you nitwit, camel piss. They tan their leather with pure,
unadulterated, CAMEL PISS!!! Get that stinking thing outta
here!!" and I was given the bum's rush out of the berthing
compartment. I took my fragrant treasure topside to the boatdeck and
hung it up to air out in the fresh sea breezes. It flapped up there
for a couple months and stayed rank as ever. I finally gave up and
consigned it to the deep. When last seen it was floating far astern in
the wake on it's way over the horizon.
I had another experience with the wake when things went the other
way. I had a brand new pair of Seafarer bellbottom dungarees that
weren't getting to look salty fast enough to suit me so I was towing
them in the wake to give them that salty, lived in, sea-going look. I
was taking my after dinner sauna in the scullery when the ship started
to shudder and shake. "Hey, What's happening?"
"We're backing down, dummy." says Diamond Ted Pahanish,
the baker. Diamond Ted was a bonafide character:
"quit sweatin in the dough, Ted"----
"Hell no, It helps the leavening."
"Hey Ted, What about all them weevils?"
"a damn shame, these ovens bake all the goodness right out of
(Ted was putting me on, of course, most of them got sifted out).
"What do you mean backing down, we're out in the middle of
an empty ocean for chrissakes, back down for what?" (getting
a little frantic and bolting for the fantail) "They ain't
supposed to be backing down for chrissakes!" I run back to
the taffrail and frantically start hauling my seafarers in, oh oh, too
much slack, I can't take it up fast enough, my seafarers are waving
goodbye 3 fathoms down and fast disappearing under the counter. Too
late! The next thing I know, I'm in a major tug of war with the port
screw. No contest, So long seafarers-----Damn it all! I could have
inhaled 60 draft beers at Leo's with that money.---back to the
Noxubee had a
ship's mascot during the '51-'52 Med cruise. He was a little black
dog. I think he came aboard at Cyprus, but not sure. Anyway he got
seasick the first few days under way and laid on deck rolling back and
forth with his tongue flopping out in the forward crew's berthing
compartment. He soon had his sea legs, however, (all four of them) and
was scooting all around the ship. We named him Jet because of his jet
black color and the way he scooted around. He would go all the way up
on the bow and poke his head over the side to bark at the dolphins
while his ears flapped in the breeze. He used to take his naps on the
cargo hatch. One day the hatch covers were removed. Jet came scooting
across the fo'c'sle and leaped up to his favorite spot. OOPS! nothing
there. Down he went into the hold where he landed on all fours and
banged his chops on deck. Fortunately the lower hatch covers were in
place so he only dropped 12ft or so. He was rushed to sick bay where
the doc examined him and pronounced him OK except for a fat lip. He
was a smart little bugger.Whenever he wanted a nap after that he'd
stand on his hind legs and put his paws on top the coaming to check
things out before hopping up on the hatch. After a few months we
decided he would be happier on shore duty so we transfered him to
Wheelus Field in Tripoli where an Air Force family adopted him.
Well, Shipmates, I've been going on too long here so I'm gonna sign
All The Best,
Send some of your memories so the good old Noxubee will continue to
live on for us all.
a fair wind and following seas to all---Tom
Music! Music! Music!
By Tom Hayes
|Many of my memories of the
Noxubee come back accompanied by the popular music of those
days-('51-'53), and, in my case, it was mostly the music coming out of
the juke boxes in waterfront watering holes. Songs like Theresa
Brewer's all-time biggest hit:
Music! Music! Music!
Put another nickel in,
in the nickelodeon.
All I want is loving you
and Music! Music! Music!
I'd do anything for you,
anything you want me to.
All I want is kissing you
and Music! Music! Music!
Closer, my dear come closer.
The nicest part of any melody
Is when you're dancing close to me.
So put another nickel in,
In the nickelodeon.
All I want is loving you
and Music! Music! Music!
Juke boxes back in those days really were nickelodeons. One nickel got
you a play, a quarter got you 6 --- pretty cheap even on an SN's $45
payday. I spent a lot of my liberty time hanging around in the
waterfront bars and taverns in Newport, Norfolk and Boston where many
of the bars had those big Wurlitzer juke boxes with the colored
lighted bubble tubes and lava light effects. They also had damned good
speakers with plenty of bass that filled the places with sound. The
juke boxes boomed away night and day sending music out the door to
echo up and down the street. The music beckoned passing sailors such
as myself with a siren song's promise of fun and frolic within, and,
hopefully, maybe, even a friendly honey to nest up alongside. Guy
Mitchell backed by Mitch Miller's band was a big favorite in all the
Navy bars. Tunes like "The Roving Kind" were great for
carousing and sometimes shipmates would carouse a little too
exhuberantly and end up in the Newport, RI. slammer charged with
"Reveling". A local quaint archaism which means
"disturbing the peace" which probably goes all the way back
to colonial days.
"The Roving Kind"
She had a dark and a roving eye-eye-eye
and her hair hung down in ringelets.
She was a nice girl, a proper girl but,
one of the roving kind.
As I cruised out one evening
upon a night's career.
I spied a lofty clipper ship
and to her I did steer.
I hoisted up my sig-a-nals
which she so quickly knew.
and when she saw my bunting fly,
she immediately hove To-woo-woo.
I took her for some fish and chips
and treated her so fine.
and hardly did I realize
she was the roving kind.
I kissed her lips, I missed her lips
and found to my surprise,
she was nothing but a pirate ship
rigged up in a dis-guy-eye-ise!
So come all you good sailor men
who sail the wintry sea,
and come all you apprentice lads,
a warning take from me.
Beware of lofty clipper ships,
they'll be the ruin of you.
For 'twas there she made me
walk the plank
and pushed me under too-ooh-ooh!
She had a dark and a roving eye-eye-eye
and her hair hung down in ringelets
She was a nice girl, a proper girl,
but, one of the roving kind.
Some other Guy Mitchell songs that were standards in all the Navy
hang outs were:
"My Truly, Truly Fair", "My Heart Cries For You",
"Belle Belle, My Liberty Belle" and "She Wears Red
Feathers" Back in the '50's owning a car was not practical on a
sailor's pay. Beside the prohibitive cost, Noxubee was "always on
the go" and you never knew when you'd get back, if ever.
The upshot of this was that almost everyone, (single pukes, that
is, which most of us were), hung around within walking distance or a
short bus ride of the fleet landing. Most crews adopted a "ship's
bar" where shipmates could meet to hoist a few, hang out, run a
bar tab, get messages, etc. I spent many hours bellied up to the bar
nursing a draft beer and listening to the juke box in the navy hang
outs along Long Wharf and Thames street in Newport. (There were at
least 19 of them between Leo's outside the fleet landing gate on Long
Wharf and the Snug Harbor in "Blood Alley" about half a mile
away down Thames st.) I remember this because one of my goals in life
was to have a small draft beer in each place from the fleet landing
all the way out and back non stop. I never made it, but not for lack
Noxubee's main hangout in Newport was the "Franklin" next
to the post office. A lot of the senior PO's hung out there. I
couldn't get served in there because they knew I was under age.
(doctored ID or not). Also, I suspect, because some of the PO's saw
enough of me on the ship already. Some other Noxubee hang outs were
the "Blue Moon", "Skipper's Dock", the
"Oyster Bay" and Leo's where they weren't so fussy about who
Some more of the popular songs that got a lot of play in these
places in addition to those listed above were: "You Belong to
Me", sung by Jo Stafford, "Half As Much" by Rosemary
Clooney, " Harbor lights" by Peggy Lee? "Good Night
Irene" by the Weavers. and one of my big favorites, "Faraway
Places" by Margaret Whiting. Noxubee was in the Navy Yard at
Boston when "High Noon" with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly hit
the theaters. The title song sung by Tex Ritter played constantly for
Some favorite Boston places were Izzy Ort's and the Hillbilly Ranch
in the "Combat Zone" and the Big Potato in Charlestown close
by the Navy Yard. One of Noxubee's favorite hang outs in Norfolk was
the "Pearl Harbor" where we'd go to get bombed. Norfolk's
juke boxes had many of the same selections as those in Newport or
Boston. "Mona Lisa" sung by Nate King Cole, "Bali Hai"
by Perry Como, "Some Enchanted Evening" by Ezio Pinza.
"That Lucky Old Sun" by Frankie Laine, "Auf Wiederseh'n
Sweetheart". by Vera Lynn. Norfolk also had a lot of country
music, but all I can remember is Hank Williams songs "Cold, Cold
Heart", "Lovesick Blues" and "Sailor's Blues"
which was also recorded by Ernest Tubb. "Sailor's Blues"
On my way to Italy
from the gulf of Mexico.
Riding on a tanker
feeling mighty low.
left my gal behind me,
no loving for so long.
I'm going back to Texas,
cause that's where I belong.
Well, shipmates, those are some of the tunes I remember best, give
them a listen if you get a chance, I think you'll enjoy hearing them
if you do. and here's a final one.------ "Now is the Hour".
Now is the hour
when we must say goodbye.
soon you'll be sailing
far across the sea.
While you're away,
Oh then, remember me.
When you return
you'll find me waiting here.
A fair wind and following seas to all---Tom