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CHAPTER XI ­ BARBERS POINT, HAWAII - page 2 / 10

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The Misadventures of Me and My Family Tree

where

I would take these newspapers and magazines to our

ine shack.

we

hung

out,

when

it

was

our

turn

to

service

incoming

aircraft.

The line shack was Usually there was t

anything to

do

except

for reading or playing

penny ante poker.

Cheat

poker

would

have

been a better name for our little game. The ante was kept down to one mill, or a tenth of a penny.

That way no one counted as mills.

could get hurt financially. We had a box of white poker chips that To break the monotony of endless hours of play, all forms of cheating

were were

legal.

There was only one penalty.

If a player was caught

cheating, he became ineligible to

for

that particular pot. The game was more of

Try and catch the cheat

than it was poker.

Everyone would usually go back to the barracks at about 10 P.M. One man would have to stay behind, in the line shack, just in case of an emergency. The only thing I hated about staying alone all night was when things got quiet the rats came out. Midway was heavily infested with rats. Some of the guys enjoyed rat hunting at the dump. They would borrow a 22 caliber rifle from the armory for an evening of rat hunting. The only rat hunting I did was when it was my turn to stay over at the line shack. I would gather up a bunch of empty soda cans, sit myself on top of the card table, and wait for them to come out. After things were very quiet for awhile, these nasty creatures would start scampering about. I would then try and hit them with my soda cans. I don t believe I ever hit one.

PRACTICAL JOKER

We would try almost anything in an effort to pass the time and maintain our sanity. One of the more popular pastimes was the creation of elaborate practical jokes. One of the best practical jokes ever was pulled on a naive young sailor, not too long after his arrival at Midway. A long­time member of the detachment decided he would have some fun and find out just how gullible the naive newcomer really was. The seasoned resident told the newcomer that the Federal Bureau of Prisons had built a woma s barracks on the nearby uninhabited Eastern Island to house women prisoners. He explained that because Midway Atoll was way out in the middle of the ocean, the Federal Prison System wasn t worried about walls, guard towers or security fences. He went on to say that a lot of the VR­21 Detachment sailors make regular visits to Eastern Island and were always well received. The youngster bought the story, hook, line and sinker. He enlisted the help of another gullible newcomer, swiped a boat from Special Services and made a futile pilgrimage to Eastern Island. The following day everyone on Sand Island had a good laugh at the young sailors expense.

GOONEY BIRD

When I was on Midway, there were several signs posted on Sand Island proclaiming Midway Atoll to be a National Wildlife Refuge. I never saw a conservationist during my entire stay at Midway. I understand that since then they have become more active and have made great strides in restoring the atoll back to nature. Midway is indeed a national treasure. The large variety of bird life did much to preserve my sanity during my time at Midway.

The most interesting bird on Midway is the Laysan Albatross, better known as the Gooney Bird. The Gooney bird stands about two feet tall and has a wing span of over six feet. I ve spent hours watching this magnificent bird. Most remarkable is the young when they are learning to take off and land. They are so big and cumbersome that they need a straight of way of at least a hundred yards in order to take off. They run their little hearts out, wings extended,

80

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