Part III the navy chapter 8 naval advanced base bremerhaven 1955 1957 The Sailor called ‘Sparks’



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1PART III

THE NAVY

CHAPTER 8

NAVAL ADVANCED BASE BREMERHAVEN

1955 - 1957

The Sailor called ‘Sparks’

After a 2-week leave, and just after Christmas, I flew from Allegheny County Airport, then serving Pittsburgh, to La Guardia just outside NYC. I caught the Navy shuttle to the Receiving Station, Brooklyn, 207 Flushing Ave., between Washington and Clinton Aves, across the street from the Naval Shipyard. The front of the Receiving Station (RecSta) faced Park Avenue, the south end of Park Avenue not associated with the rich and famous. That part of Park Avenue is further north. The building was 7 or 8 stories. On the first floor were the usual admin offices, a huge waiting room, and the dining hall. The waiting room had a couple of doors leading to the back of the building, down cement steps, to the courtyard. That was fenced in with a gate where Shore Patrol checked your ID and liberty card, coming and going. Across Flushing Ave., was a major gate into the Navy Shipyard. Must have had a dozen turnstiles to channel workers past the Marine guards. I can't remember which carrier was being overhauled at the time, the Essex or Midway?

This is a facsimile of Naval Receiving Station Brooklyn,

the original building was demolished -- ca. 1965-70?

Fronting on Flushing Ave., the other entrance was on Park Ave.

There was a chain-link fence in front with a gate, and

the courtyard between the wings was used to muster for

onward transportation to destinations, e.g., Floyd Bennett

Field, (air transport) McGuire AFB (overseas air)

Ft. Hamilton (ship transport) or ships in Brooklyn Navy Yard

directly across the street was the Clinton Ave. Gate to the yard


I checked in with the MAA and got a bunk/locker on the 5th floor. The wing I was assigned to wasn't crowded, only 10 or so, and we were all headed to different places. For a required seabag inspection, I had to drag my gear down to the basement, unpack it, show stencils, or stencil the stuff without one, and purchase items I didn't have. The inspectors were lenient, transients like me. As a seaman, I expected to be assigned lousy details, but I lucked out. Just office cleanup on the 1st floor after 16:00 and before chow at 17:00. The rest of the day was spent loafing, reading, shooting the breeze, playing cards, and being available for whatever they wanted you to do. Between the holidays, most of the staff was gone, and it was a very slack time. After breakfast, you'd muster in the waiting room, maybe catch a detail, muster again at 13:00, repeat the morning routine, and report for cleanup at 16:00.
The upcoming attraction was New Years Eve, 1955. People were hawking tickets for this or that event. A couple of newly met shipmates and I decided to go to the USO at Times Square early in the afternoon, and see what was going on there. As luck would have it, we got free tickets to an off Broadway nightclub featuring dining and dancing. We got there about 16:00, got a table against the wall, and had a nice but somewhat expensive dinner, even after the discount. The band, 6 or 7 pieces started about 20:00 and we settled in for the evening. At about 22:30 or so, people began pouring into this place, and we suspected the doorman gave up trying to keep people out. Our table was full of drinks bought by strangers, a couple of civilians and their dates squeezed in, introduced themselves, called over some more girls, and soon, no one was sitting down. We welcomed 1955 with hugs, kisses, drinks and swaying to Auld Lang Syne. It was so crowded that bumping and rubbing ceased to be excused. The place emptied out shortly after 01:00 or so, the crowd milling out in the streets, heading for who knows where. We hung around for a while, then decided to head back. Took a very crowded 'A' train back to Brooklyn, and walked, maybe staggered a bit, back to the RecSta.
Travel manifests to various locations were posted on the big board in the waiting room twice a day; about 1000 for the next morning, and around 1500 for the following afternoon. When your name appeared, you reported to the big counter for your orders and records package, and packed your seabag. In the morning (or afternoon) you reported to the designated area in the courtyard. A Petty Officer would hold muster and tell you what bus or carryall to get on. You were then taken to the train, plane or ship for onward travel.

On Friday, January 8, 1955, my name, along with 3 others; a Bo'sun's Mate 2nd, and a seaman headed for the Rhine River Patrol at Schierstein, and a Communications Tech 3rd, ordered to the newly formed Security Group, appeared on the Port Call list for Bremerhaven. We were to report for transportation at 0900 Monday the 11th. Sunday night, I packed and locked my seabag to the bunk. I went down to the "slop chute" drank a couple of beers, shot the breeze with a couple of guys I had made acquaintances with, and hit the sack about 2100. Up early the next morning, I showered, shaved, put on my traveling dress blues and went to early breakfast. At precisely 0855, I mustered in the courtyard along with a dozen others who were headed out. The four of us were assigned to a panel truck for the ride to the Army Terminal on Fort Hamilton.




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