I received this in the morning email ..... what a great post, brings back a lot of memories to me ....
First night out, after under the glorious Golden Gate: The dreaded ground swells! We were at a table for several, with an Army Major at the head of the table. It was rolling enough that several people ate little and left early, but I was ravenous and ate and ate. Mom began feeling queasy and she left for our cabin, after asking the Major if he would mind keeping an eye on me. He graciously agreed, so I ate more, I think multiple desserts, while plates and cutlery crashed to the deck from several tables during some really heavy rolls, and the crew were busily cleaning up the mess, and the Major calmly smoked and drank more coffee with a smile on his face, which I later realized was most likely at my capacity for food. I ate long enough that we finaly were the last two in the mess, and we eventually tip-toed our way out of the mess through the broken china on the deck.
I've often thought of how well all the crew seemed to at least tolerate us brats, but I don't remember any who weren't always nice to us. I still have images of the "canteen" (my term - can't remember what Navy would term it), leather-tooling, and the wardroom for us dependents.
We could get snacks and toiletries, etc, at the canteen, but I most remember that was my first taste of Hawaiian Punch! and I loved it. (I've researched Hawaiian Punch, and it was first marketed on the West Cost and hadn't yet made it to Dallas before our voyage.)
The leather-working was a great idea - it kept us kids stationary for a couple of hours. A sailor would patiently teach us how to use punches to tool leather, and I made a belt for myself and a wallet for Mom.
Ah, the wardroom. Couches and plenty of board games to keep us kids occupied. I know at least some kids got seasick, but I never did on the entire trip, and more moms seemed to get queasy and retire to their cabins than kids. That meant that during rough seas eventually the critical ratio of moms to kids became low enough that we kids took control of the whole place. We learned that bouncing off a couch just as the ship began rising from a low swell meant a MUCH higher soar than usual. If we got too rowdy for the moms we'd go out into a passageway and find a handrail to hold and jump up with the same timing. Until a crew member came along to shoo us off.
I have one image of the Line-crossing celebration, of Mom and me standing at a railing looking down at some partying going on on the aft deck, but Mom removed me shortly. I do remember a classmate in Japan who had crossed the Dateline on his birthday, though I don't remember on which ship. He told the story of the crew making him the honorary King Neptune and cheering in his honor, which I think was just great of the crew, though I suspect he was also bundled off shortly to make way for some more bawdy partying.
After a year and a half in Japan, we sailed from Yokohama for Seattle in October, 1954, on USS Mann, though with a stop in Pusan to debark troops and pick up more for return to the States. The "police action" was over by then, but I remember sticking my head out our cabin porthole to watch the troops tromp slowly down the ramp to the shore, but later seeing smiling boarders walk much faster up the ramp to board. I remember that crossing less well, save for one day when Dad was Officer of the Day, and he took me down to troop quarters to walk through with him on "inspection", which mainly consisted of a sort of meet-and-greet. I remember shaking hands with several of them, and of course all of them were elated to be going home.
I've long wished I'd kept a journal of our crossing on Mitchell, so I could have recorded the names of so many, to later be able to track down the Major and laugh with him about my appetite, and the guys who ran the canteen, and the mess crew who took care of us - and the messes - so well at meals, and the sailors who taught me how to tool leather. Great memories.