Saturday, February 21, 2009

Visit from an old shipmate

Back in the era shortly before this photo of me as a kelp-diver was taken, I was hanging out with shipmates in Cordova, Alaska. One was Bob Westover. I hadn't seen him but once since the late '60's. He and his wife came up visiting and we all got together. A lot of his memories of those days were a complete blank to me. I used to get drunk a lot and chase the ghost of Dylan Thomas. But we both remembered the night that could have landed us in a military prison. We had a hard-drinking warrent officer sitting behind 3 of us lowly seamen in a bar (Westover, me and Jim Beckwith). Mister Schultz took a disliking to Westover and kept trying to pick a fight with him. We tried to ignore him but he wouldn't leave. He intended to wait for us to walk out at closing time and jump Westover. The bar closed, Schultz walked out, and as soon we were walking out, he tried to reach passed me and grab Westover. I grabbed this big, bear of a man who started spinning me around in the alley. Beckwith ran up and with one punch, placed Schultz on his back. Then Westover ran up (in his motorcycle boots) and started kicking him. Then we left.

Assulting an officer can result in "hard time" in a federal pen. If that wasn't bad enough, we figured that since it was war-time (Viet Nam), they could shoot us. But, what-the-hell, there was no where we could run off to, in the middle of Alaska, so we just went back to the ship to await certain incarceration.

They next morning, he was no where around until about noon. Then he walked back aboard ship with his arm in a sling. He'd just returned from the hospital where they tended to his broken collar bone (thanks to Westover's boots). He never said a word to anyone about the event.

I noticed yesterday, the sixty-something Westover now wears crepe-soled footwear. Ahhhh, maturity.

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