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Paymaster Day

 

Shore Patrol with Ensign Day
 

A few days later Ensign Day and I happened to be on shore patrol duty together in Tsingtao. It was a bitterly cold night. To stay warm during my rounds I was doing what the local Chinese did—eating peanuts, cracking the shells with my cumbersome gloved hands. My shore patrol duty involved spending the night walking from one bar to another; the bars were scattered all over so I got in a lot of walking. Each bar was a little refuge where I could warm myself over the coal brazier. The bar owners were always glad to see me, since my job of keeping the sailors out of trouble helped business. In one tiny bar, they all eyed me apprehensively. The old White Russian pianist started playing a plaintively beautiful song on the little upright piano. His beautiful blue-eyed, blond daughter began to sing. Although magnificent musicians (it is surprising the talent you find in the most unlikely places), they seemed a bit tense this night. Suddenly there was a commotion on the shelf behind the piano. A large peanut sack had suddenly come to life. The lumps in the sack were a U.S. sailor and a little Chinese bar girl. They had been interrupted when I walked in the door, and after a few minutes, he could wait no longer. It was too late for me to keep him out of trouble. I left, smiling a bit and the others smiled back.

Due to bad weather that night the landing boats weren’t making runs back to the ship so we were forced to stay overnight in the little Shore Patrol headquarters. I was exhausted after spending the whole evening walking all over town. It was fiercely cold and in the little headquarters shack there was only one cot and one blanket; so I lay on my side of the cot with my back to Day. I was very tired and went right to sleep. Into that cold night I awoke with a start, feeling something warm against my bottom. After my sleep was thus interrupted I flipped over and spent the rest of the night sleeping on my backside.

 



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