You’re In The Navy Now~Part 6

4 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites


Our first stop was in Santos, Brazil where, at that time, the people had never seen an American warship in their harbor before.  Because many of our crew would have to return to the east coast after we left the Coral Sea in its west coast shipyard, those crew members had been allowed to take their private cars aboard the ship for their return trip.  It caused quite a 

1stir when the people in Santos saw all those cars on the ship.  No telling what they must have thought we were doing with them, especially since there were no American cars in Santos at that time.  Moreover, because they exported most of their country’s coffee, the coffee they served there was very strong and served in tiny cups.  I had to fill the cup half full with cream in order to drink it, and then, of course, all the locals laughed at me.


2Because the ship was too wide to pass through the Panama Canal locks, we had to sail completely around the tip of South America.  As we traveled south, we were forced to change back into our winter blues as we neared and rounded Cape Horn.  The winds and waves in that area were constantly pounding the ship, and I was glad to be able to stay inside, out of the gale force winds and the freezing sea spray.

As we headed north, up the western side of South America, our next stop 3was Valparaiso, Chile, where we enjoyed experiencing much of South America’s ancient culture up close.  Nicknamed “The Jewel of the Pacific”, the city of Valparaíso is a vibrant center of Chilean culture.  We didn’t get to stay long there, but much of what we saw was breathtaking.

 4UntitledContinuing north, it was back into our summer whites, as we crossed the Equator again, and stopped at Balboa, Canal Zone in Panama.  It was there that we learned all about the history of the canal, it’s locks, and how they are used to move ships from one ocean  to the other, and how many days and miles of travel we would have saved, not having to go around Cape Horn, if only the Coral Sea had not been too wide to fit through those huge locks.

After leaving Panama, our next stop was at the Alameda Naval Air Station, in San Francisco, where I enjoyed some of the best fried oysters I have ever eaten.  As it turned out, this would not be the last time I was to visit San Francisco with the Navy.  More than a year later I would end my two-year active duty time with the Navy, and be processed back into Naval Reserve status at the Treasure Island Naval Station, there in San Francisco.  Yummm! More delicious fried oysters and other seafood delights




                                             —–To Be Continued—–

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