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A Slow Boat To Korea April 28, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, People.

Once on the West Coast, dad boarded a slow boat to Korea.  On board, he got tapped for clean up detail since he was one of only a handful of new recruits who had not succumbed to seasickness.  He had a chance to practice his disappearing act:

“I expect that I am now about 400 miles out to sea.  We left San Francisco yesterday.  We’re on the Haverford Victory.  It’s not very large.  We have been underway for about 28 hours.  At last I think the fellows are getting over being seasick.”

“We had been at sea for only half an hour when the latrine was full of sick guys.  At chow the first night a lot of fellows were sick in the chow hall. They lost all their K.P.’s that way.  When they found out I wasn’t sick, a sgt. put me to work.  I disappeared in about 10 minutes.”

Wikipedia ~ Victory Ships (in Public Domain)

The crossing from California to Korea coincided with the World Series, with every game played over the loud speakers.  Saturday, Oct. 12:

“Today is our 4th day at sea.  We are approximately half way to the Hawaiian Islands.  We expect to reach there Monday.  So far we have had every World Series game put over the loud speaker system on board. They have programs and music on from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M.”

As time and tides rolled by, the constant oceanfront views lost their appeal. Sunday, October 13:

“There is little to write about aboard the ship.  All we see is ocean and more ocean.  Our quarters are down two floors below the main deck. They are pretty crowded.  There are four bunks, one above the other in each group.  They are composed of canvas tied between pieces of pipe on four sides.  Tomorrow we hit Honolulu. I will turn this letter in to be mailed there.”

October 26th, dad shared some thoughts about typhoons and tigers:

“We are nearing Jinsen, Korea at last.  Probably we will arrive in about 3 days.  We have been delayed a couple of times by going around typhoons or something.  One day it was so rough that no one was allowed on deck. A few waves were coming over the side of the ship.”

“I guess I won’t do any deer hunting this year.  Not in Vermont anyway. We have been told that we can hunt in Korea year round.  Partridge and tigers are the most common game. What you could do with a dead tiger is beyond me.”

Two days later, on October 28th, dad had Korea in his sites:

“Tomorrow we are supposed to debark at Jinsen, also known as Inchon.  It is located about halfway up the western coast of Korea.  Korea is about 450 miles long 250 miles wide and is occupied by U.S. and Russia. Russia is north of the 38 degree parallel.  The climate is supposed to be much like New England.”

“Yesterday we passed by the southern tip of Japan proper, close enough so that we could see the surf.  We must have been 3 or 4 miles from shore.  It looked mountainous.”

Continued next Monday . . . The Best Service Assignment Ever!



1. Over Hill, Over Dale . . . Over Seas | Spirit Lights The Way - April 28, 2014

[…] Continued next Monday . . . A Slow Boat to Korea […]

2. jannatwrites - April 29, 2014

Wow, what an experience. (1) I couldn’t imagine being on a ship for that long; (2) I don’t want to imagine what it was like with all the seasick crew members. Ew!

nrhatch - April 29, 2014

Three weeks at sea would be a long time even in a cabin with a balcony and sumptuous dinners each night. Three weeks in a crowded dormitory sleeping in a hammock strung between pipes would seem more and more monotonous.

3. Grannymar - April 29, 2014

‘There are four bunks, one above the other in each group. They are composed of canvas tied between pieces of pipe on four sides.’

I would hate to be a light sleeper in a place like that. Can you imagine the snoring? Maybe I am too soft and fond of my comfort.

nrhatch - April 29, 2014

Better accommodations than on many trans-oceanic journeys (e.g., slave ships, ships from Ireland during the potato famine, etc.), but definitely not my cup of tea. At this point, I have nothing to prove by “roughing it.” Give me a cushy bed to crash in at night . . . with no snorers in hearing range.

4. Pix Under the Oaks - April 29, 2014

And I thought we had been on the cruise from hell!

nrhatch - April 29, 2014

I hope never to be on a cruise ship that is dead in the water with no power, little food, and few operational bathrooms. ACK!

5. Behind the Story - April 29, 2014

Your father could have eaten a tiger, shared it with his buddies. It’s interesting to hear that there were many tigers in Korea then. When I was researching a post on tigers in China (“Tiger Love”), I found that there were more than 4000 tigers in the country in the early fifties. Unfortunately, tigers were part of Mao’s “Anti-pest Campaign” and were nearly wiped out. Now the Amoy tiger, thought to be the ancestor of all tigers, is believed to be extinct in the wild. So sad!!!

nrhatch - April 29, 2014

It is sad, Nicki. We have mucked up the planet in so many ways. Every day my in box is filled with alerts about new environmental issues that we’ve created with our short-sighted arrogance.

6. bluebee - April 29, 2014

Poor man – cleaning up the vomit of others in a rolling, roiling ship. I think I’d throw myself overboard! Sounds as if the radio was a saving grace.

nrhatch - April 29, 2014

Listening to the World Series must have been a “grounding” influence in the midst of that perpetual rolling sea.

I don’t get seasick . . . but I might if surrounded by a bunch of folks green around the gills.

7. pix & kardz - April 30, 2014

wow, a lifetime ago and a whole other life. i had to smile about the disappearing act after 10 min….

nrhatch - April 30, 2014

I did too, Kris. It surprised me that dad, in his teens, acted like I would have in my teens.

8. The Best Service Assignment Ever! | Spirit Lights The Way - May 5, 2014

[…] After 3 weeks at sea, dodging typhoons, dad made it to Korea on November 1, 1946: […]

9. Tokeloshe - May 7, 2014

Treasures! What a great scrapbook this would make.

nrhatch - May 7, 2014

I filed them in sleeves with the autobiography my dad wrote so that they are there for ready reference.

10. joannevalentinesimson - May 9, 2014

So, there were still tigers in Korea when your father went there. Not anymore.

nrhatch - May 9, 2014

I don’t know that dad ever saw a tiger, but it sounds like there were still some roaming around.

11. joannevalentinesimson - May 9, 2014

BTW, Nancy, when you have transcribed your father’s letters, could you compile them? Make them available somehow as an e-book, perhaps?

nrhatch - May 9, 2014

That’s something to think about, Joanne. I hadn’t planned to do any more than share excerpts from them here. I’ll give it some thought. Thanks for the idea.

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