CARE TO JOIN US IN SOME TEQUILA?|
(Our last trip on the Mad Hooligan)
Finally the war is over and after two years away from home, we arrive
stateside at Long Beach CA. A point system had been put in place for
discharge and most of our crew had more than enough points to return to
the rank of civilian. However, since replacements were few, we were frozen
to the ship until we delivered it to it's final destination, Louisiana.
Although liberty was great in CA (Hollywood and LA), most of us were anxious
to get the final trip over with. Once the orders were issued for departure,
we added a non-authorized member to our crew, the skipper's brother. We even
went so far as to try to bring aboard the 1941 Ford which he had driven to
CA. Unfortunately it was difficult to load aboard and the Ford had to be left
On our first day at sea, our captain called a muster and asked a disgruntled
crew for full cooperation. In return he promised to make this a real
"pleasure cruise", starting with a happy hour that night. Work, other than
watch standing was kept to a minimum.
As we cruised along the Mexican coast on the way down to the Panama Canal,
our captain came up with a great idea. Let's make a stop in Acapulco.
Who would know the difference? Not so! As we started in, two Navy PC's
appeared on the horizon. Quickly this message was sent to them, "Care to
join us in some tequila?" Their response was, "Sounds good to us". As
The Mad Hooligan moved into the harbor, several yachts had to be moved so that
our ship could swing freely on its anchor. The two PCs then tied alongside.
We arrived on a Friday -- all three crews had a party weekend -- we
departed early Monday morning.
Our next landfall would be Panama. As we passed through the canal, the
thought was to get out into the Caribbean as soon as possible. Why? From
past experience we knew Panama to be too military for this wild crew. Sure
as certain if liberty was granted in Panama, some of the crew would find
themselves in trouble and since we wouldn't leave without them, our trip
could be delayed for days.
Entering Havana Cuba
Another decision made on our final leg to New Orleans was to make a weekend
visit to Havana, Cuba. Leave it up to our skipper to take us up the Havana
River, past The Morro Castle, and anchor off the docks of The United Fruit Co.
in Havana. This he did, defying the Navy's direction to go to the naval
base. The party weekend in Havana was another bonus on our final cruise.
At last we arrived in New Orleans. It was Mardi Gras time, but by now we
were all partied out and nothing meant more than seeing the folks back home.
Except for a skeleton crew remaining aboard, 30 day leaves were granted to
most of the crew. Almost everyone took his sea bag home with him and applied
for discharge at a base near his home. Very few ever returned to the ship.
Again, as one crew member put it, all he wanted was a "faint recollection" of
our time in the service. This was true for almost 30 years. Then our reunions
began. Now in our senior years we realize how important memories are.