|John W. "Whitey" Glass|
|"Love to receive stories, data and pictures like this! John...Thanks for the input to the website! - Butch"|
I'm enclosing some pictures and a write up regarding how it was in the late 40's for comparison purposes.
I don't know how much of the information you might want, nor how many photos but I copied practically all I have. I've also included copies of some information, perhaps, you can use it. Among it copies of the Marine Associations membership card, passes we needed to get in and out of sun ship, when we were in dry dock and some taxi services we used, so many years ago. Also some information I had... Check out the alphabet letter the code names have really changed twice that I know of.
I was going to write up some incidents that occurred while sailing, however, I thought it might be overkill. I know you are away for seventy five days so I won't expect an acknowledgement of this material for awhile
Hope you find this material interesting.
Take care. John
Some thoughts regarding procedures and some incidents that occurred.
Being's I sailed in the latter part of the 1940's I thought I'd share some information regarding my time on the tankers....Perhaps it will be different, but, than again perhaps not.
First of how one got hired to sail on Sun Oil tankers. Many of the personnel were either
Friends or relatives on those already sailing... Sun, at that time, had a practice of requesting a letter from someone already sailing on one of their tankers. I for instance, had a friend, Ralph Brannagan, who wrote a letter of introduction addressing it to Joe Higler, the guy in charge of hiring and assigning crews to the various ships. Joe would question you and if your answers were right, whatever his criteria might be, he'd hire you... He would then issue a letter for one to show when applying for your first seaman's ticket. Which all of you know would be as an ordinary seaman. As a result of this practice many friends, of the seamen, and relatives were hired by Sun. I obtained my ticket and began my sailing days on the Texas Sun, as a mess man.
I, after six months, switched to a deck hand and a different ship… Again at these times, when one had enough experience, then when the time, after the first year, one would receive a letter outlining their experience with Sun Oil and take it to wherever they issued first year A.B. ticket (see copy attached). Sun Oil, at that time, always sent one to the Marine Inspection and Navigation Bureau at the Chamber of Commerce in Baltimore Maryland. Once there you would be tested by an inspector, who would question one on rules of the road, have you tie different knots and do splicing's, box a compass etc If you passed the ticket was issued that day. I was elated when I passed it....
When I sailed, Sun Oil, at least on the tankers, was not unionized. I haven't any idea if they ever did unionize, but, you all would know. They did have a Sun Marine Employees Association (see card attached). Also at this time, they did not pay overtime, per se, what they did do was credit one with two and a half days' time per month which you could let built up and take it off at the end of the year, fully paid, or just collect the money later.. Most guys took the cash. They did pay for extra work for instance....When one worked, after the butterworthing ( I believe that was the term) of the tanks took place and they were well aired out, if you went down into the tanks and picked up debris and cleaned them you would receive extra pay... Also if one was over the side, when under way, and was chipping and painting the side you would receive extra pay. Anything out of the ordinary.....
Talking about chipping and painting the crews were always involved in this...On a daily basis one would be assigned some location on the tanker to "Chip and Paint"...
Regarding this I imagine you are all aware of "Red Lead" well, we used to mix our own… and when I think of it now I have to laugh... Everyone now a days is so careful about handling red lead...Back then one would get a five gallon can put In the amount of red lead fill the rest with oil, I believe it was linseed oil, and then stick your arm in it and mix it up until it was ready to use. As you all know that is the base coat placed on the metal before the paint...Of course one had to wait for it to dry... We had a Boson' who also made us put on a covering of oil, which would harden overnight, and then use the red lead. Oh yes, after stirring the red lead, we cleaned ourselves with kerosene, usually your arm(s) and chest were covered with it...
Also, another painting job I always wondered if it were carried on, was painting the stacks. As you know all the stacks were black in color...Well, we would rig a boson's chair and one of us, would start painting with creosote. Damn, did that stuff burn... All of us worked with shirts off, in the Gulf Stream and when it was warm. Why creosote, no one ever knew why. That's just how it was done. Another thing we did, usually it was me, was swashing the stays with tallow. Again we'd rig a boson's chair at the top of the stays, where they attach to the mast, have a five gallon bucket of tallow and use your hands to cover the stays while being lowered down the stay by a guy holding the line...As you all know there was always someone holding the line, when another was using a chair....just in case.
Another job we did, which I don't know if others(ships) did it, was marking the anchor chain....This was done in port, while we were loading, and it consisted of letting out the anchor chain as far as it would go. By the way you know all the winches and the anchor chain were powered by steam and it got rather hot under the forward deck. It also took us hours to do. I forget how many links between the markings, but what we would do is run a line through one link, hand line, and splice it to the link so that when the anchor was run out, if one were looking, they could count the lines and know how much chain was let out. I haven't any idea if anyone ever did it… But, we did mark the anchor chain. BY the way, we got paid extra for this as all the other crew was ashore.
We all stood four on and eight off, I don't believe that has changed… We had life boat drills, I do forget how often, and it was always fun swinging out on the water side of the life boat and releasing the chocks...No we never had anyone fall in................That's another thing we did. Inspected the life boats and kept them up to date and in good repair...
We always sailed out of and returned to Marcus Hook and always unloaded there.. I understand that in later years they moved to somewhere in Delaware....Also the shore gang, as they were called, most times was made up of mariners who had previously sailed on the ships. They, of course, unloaded the ship and helped in tying up and when we left port.
Many of the crew, at this period of time, right after WWII, were made up of ex-service men.
Army as well as Navy. I guess there were more Navy guys and certainly many of the older seamen had served in the Navy and as stated many were relatives and friends.
At the time we sailed there weren't any women on the ships, not even in the Stewart's department. Also relations were not allowed to be brought on board for a trip or two.
Sun Oil had allowed this at one time, I believe just the mates could have family. However on one trip a tragedy occurred, I believe there was a fire or something (the guys weren't too clear on this) and a wife and daughter had gotten injured or died. That's when they stopped it. But Isee, from information on the site that it must have started up again... By the information and pictures shown. I note also that women are allowed to serve on the ships now.
There's one thing I have to mention about the company. Once a year, at Christmas time, when we received our pay there would be a fellow sitting beside the pay master who would hand everyone a crisp new five dollar bill as a Christmas present. Doesn't sound like much now, however, remember it was the late 1940's and that wasn't a bad gift.
Another thing I thought was unique while sailing on the Western Sun, was that someone had made, what I guess you could call an outrigger, on the port side, rear housing, of the ship. I guess the pole was about six to eight feet in length. It had a spring attached so that the pole could be pulled out and be able to snap back if a fish hit the line that was attached. The line had a large hook on the end and a white rag attached, as a lure, to the hook. I guess the line was about seventy five feet in length and was out far enough that it trailed alongside of the wake. We caught many of a barracuda with it and one time a bonita. The fish of course, were giving to the cook who cleaned them and cooked them. For you who may not have eaten a barracuda, they taste pretty good. Fact is it tasted a little sweet to me, as I recall.
Another thing I remember was that the chow was good and there certainly was plenty to eat Fact is I ate some things I never had at home...For instance one thing I remember is Ox Tail soup. To me, coming from a meat and potato's family that was exotic. I can't remember all the other dishes but there were many I had never had at home.
I have attached copies of some of the memorabilia I kept. Copies of the Maritime association card , passes we needed to get in and out of the gate, at Sun Ship Building, while we were in dry dock, some pay slips(so you could compare to what you receive now) and some certificates of discharge. I even included copies of some of the Taxi services we used down south. Also attached are some of the notes I made, regarding signals and codes etc., take a look at the alphabet. The names for each letter has changed at least twice, since I sailed. A couple of years later, when I was in the army, they had changed and since then, as stated, I know they changed again. OH yes, there's also a picture from 1948, Newsweek magazine, showing one of the stern wheelers that had sailed on the Mississippi.
There are some pictures and knowing how seamen, many times, follow up the career of relatives, perhaps, someone might see a relative, a father or grandfather or uncle. Who knows?
|Click on the links to some interesting items noted from the letter above:|
|Click on the pictures to expand:|
Copyright ©2015 by Minor W. Kates, Jr. - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED