Noilly Prattle: Looking Back: 7 – a parting shot from Nofuck Virginia.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Looking Back: 7 – a parting shot from Nofuck Virginia.

USS Salinan ATF-161
     In June, 1961, after a year and three months assigned to the USS Hoist another shipmate and I were transferred to Florida at the same time. My next ship was to be a fleet tugboat, even smaller than the Hoist, called the USS Salinan ATF-161, a glorified tugboat for towing operations on the open sea as opposed to within protected harbors and tighter spaces. The Salinan was homeported in Key West. The other guy, whose nickname was “Gatch”, and I both had cars and we decided to drive to Florida together in a sort of two-car caravan. We were both itching to get the hell out of Norfolk and excited about going to what in our minds was the fabled golden resort of Miami Beach, of swank hotels, great beaches and swaying palms—in short, paradise. We were only nineteen. 

       With our transfer documents in hand we left the base and headed out of Norfolk speeding and weaving in and out of the evening rush hour traffic in our haste to put distance between ourselves and the no-love-lost-between-us Nofuck Virginia. But Nofuck wasn't so eager to see our backs just yet it seems—it wanted to give us one final shake down. Accordingly, an alert state trooper caught us in the act and stopped us. Of course, we tried to bullshit our way out of it saying that we were sailors of the United States Navy fer Christ sake being transferred to Florida on emergency orders or some such line of nonsense. The trooper wasn't buying it and we expected to get a traffic ticket with X number of days to pay the fine. Oh no, not that simple! We were ordered to accompany him to the nearest precinct and any attempt to try and escape would be met with dire consequences.

       So, we were hauled in, booked for reckless driving and driving to endanger, etc., etc., and escorted to the drunk tank with its typical nightly haul of other derelicts. Gatch and I had to share a roughly 1.5 by 2.5 meter cell with one steel cot (no mattress) and open commode (no seat or seat cover) overnight before going before the judge in the morning. They had quite a neat little shake down operation going there thought I. It seemed to be an awful lot of trouble, time and expense for a mere traffic violation that would have resulted in a speeding ticket most any other place. But there we were, locked up for the night in a 2 x 4 cell with only one cot. Somehow we managed to sleep by putting our heads on opposite ends and feet beside our heads. Just delightful! 

      You can imagine what bedraggled condition we were in by the time we were marched to the courtroom and stood before the judge. We both got slapped with a hefty fine. I think it was around $50 in 1961 terms. That was highway robbery. Neither of us had enough cash on hand to pay our fines. The icing on the cake was that I, like ET, had to phone home, admit that I was in jail and needed $50 wired to me in care of the courthouse before I could get out and continue on my way to Florida. Of course, the cash was forthcoming in a matter of a couple hours and we continued more circumspectly on to the deep South without further incidents.


Anonymous said...

I think it is amazing that you have taken photos, over the years, and still have them, of your adventures!

Just in Norfolk, myself, so am smiling having seen all of the ships hanging out.

Ahhh…the folly of youth!

Noilly Prattle said...

What on earth were you doing in Norfolk?

Some of the older photos are scans of old family photographs "tweaked" a bit to suit my requirements.

Folly isn't restricted to "youth" I'm afraid. ;^Q