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Shipboard Entertainment

Drawing is a copy of a cartoon from ship's newspaper, The Port Hole Press September 2, 1945.

Shortly after LST 832 was launched in Pittsburgh PA, it was moved to a city pier on the Allegheny River for a short time. Here many visitors toured the ship and several left "care" packages. The largest of these "packages" was an upright piano. It was loaded by crane down through the cargo hatch onto the tank deck. Guess what?? First, it was in the way on the tank deck and, secondly it was useless in that busy space. Since it would not fit through any of the hatches (doorways), Gabby Houser, with help from other black gang members, completely disassembled the piano, literally key by key and moved it into the after crew's quarters. Here it was reassembled, welded to the deck, painted a bright red (a different color each time it was repainted) and tuned with a home made tuning tool. Harrison Allen our virtuoso of the keyboard had the joint jumping many times when amateurs were not playing "chopsticks".

It should be noted here that the war in the Pacific had no liberty ports while the European engagement had London and after liberation, shore leave in cities of Italy and France. All we had were islands, worthless for shore leave. Therefore, all the entertainment sailors had in the Pacific was that which was created aboard ship.

Each LST that was on the way to the Pacific war zone was given a movie projector, a movie screen and two reels of recent Hollywood films. Consider the number of LSTs built (over 1000) and more than half of them in the Pacific -- wow! that's a lot of Hollywood entertainment. Of course we could not show movies on deck at sea (blackouts) but in port it was a new movie every night. This was accomplished by sending our boat crew out each afternoon to trade our two reels for the movies that night. In the two years that we were in the Pacific, I don't think our crew saw the same movie twice. However there was another problem we would run into if the anchorage we were in was subjected to night air raids -- the movie would stop and we would go to battle stations with blackout conditions. One night in Okinawa, when we had several kamikaze raids, our movie which started at dark was not over till after midnight.



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