Life on the Scottish Shore
A Taste of Normalcy
"Well, life on the base there, it was pretty good. The duty was light; we were just waiting for the ships, and they weren’t there. So we played cards. We went into town. There was very little else to do. There was a problem that I had, and again this concerned the competition for the young ladies. I mean we were healthy young men, and the Scotch lasses were comely as they say, and there was great competition, great competition to get their attentions. Now we had the goodies: we had the chewing gum, and we had the cigarettes, so… There was still competition. This one time I had a very nice-looking young girl with me, and I was in a dance hall in a place called Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow, and I was doing fine with her. Then she danced with one of my friends, and when they came back, she wouldn’t speak with me or have anything to do with me. And I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, I was dead. Now, the reason was, which I found out later, I was in what’s called the Black Gang, which is the engine room force. Now, the engine room force… Sailors ordinarily have the stripe on their right shoulder, a white stripe on their right shoulder. The Black Gang has a red stripe on their left shoulder. So my very good friends had convinced her that the red stripe meant that I had venereal disease."