Sid's N T
I N S Locker
Everybody experiences one of those days
in their life. Away from home, away from the family and friends that you
grew up with. Away from everything that makes holidays the special times
Thanksgiving, 1975. I was a freshly qualified
submariner, dolphins proudly worn
for only a couple of weeks. An "old" man of 21 years. Homesick, lonely,
glad to be back in port. We had just returned to our home port of Mare
Island after an extended underway. Some of us had leave, but the junior
guys, like me, didn't have a prayer of getting time away from the boat.
Nubs (new guys, or at least junior guys) always had to take leave during
the non-holiday periods. Somebody had to stick around and keep the plant
safe, or so the Navy thought. So what to do during the holidays?
Fortunately for me, there were enough jocks
around that a good rousing game of "touch" football [defined as "you're
out when you get slammed and tackled by the opposing team, and you touch
the ground] was planned for the pre-dinner hours. Garbage Bowl '75 was
on. We had enough players to scrape together two teams, THE CONERS and
THE NUC'S. Who played on the coner team is lost to memory, but the picture
of THE NUC'S shows a hardy band of youngsters. It's almost impossible to
figure out what happened to the time, after looking at those young bucks,
lined up for the "official" team picture. We all had a lot more hair, and
a lot less waistline in those days!
The game was played on the parade field
in front of the Marine barracks. The usual friendly rivalries between the
non-nucs and the nucs generated some spectacular tackles. The quarterbacking
was at least on par with the best of the pros, and the game strategy was
bone simple....get touchdowns, and keep the other guys from doing the same.
The day was wonderful. We played, we rehashed,
we embellished, until the most mediocre move was transformed into a graceful
sidestep within an hour of completing the game. Those of us that didn't
have a home to go to drifted to the boat. There, we replayed the game for
the guys on duty, laughing about the pratfalls, and exaggerating our prowess
and skills, as required by the guy code. We had come back to the boat to
be with the only family we had available. We came back to share with those
that couldn't be there, to help ease the isolation we all felt.
Dinner was served, and the one thing I
can say about the boat is that they took a lot of effort to insure that
even though we couldn't be home for the holidays, at least we would be
able to have a traditional dinner with all of the fixings. Some of the
crew had their families down on the boat for dinner. Although none of us
would have admitted it, and even groused about there being kids underfoot,
we loved having the sound of children laughing around during dinner. We
may not have been home with our moms and dads, our brothers and sisters,
grandparents, or any of the rest of our families, but we had our families
with us there on the mess decks. We had our brothers and their families.
It was enough.