I met her at the dock at Pearl with the traditional Lei and a short ride took us over the Pali to Kaneohe Bay and 441A Termite Village. It was a furnished apartment and within walking distance of the base facilities including the commissary where we bought groceries. It was necessary to hold each slice of bread up to the light and pick out the weevils. Funny I had never noticed that while eating in the mess hall, maybe they had a different source of flour.
To explain the reason for the name TERMITE VILLAGE. One night as we sat on the punai in the living room we heard a faint hum and went in the kitchen to investigate. We discovered a swarm of termites resembling flying ants emerging from the wall just beneath the kitchen window. We found that this was not a rare occurrence at all and others had been visited by these house guests.
On one trip to the commissary for groceries one of the clerks asked me if I would like a little something extra in my sack. I should have been suspicious but I stopped to inquire and was shown the cutest little tiger striped kitten you ever saw. I put him on top of the sack and took him home, sat the sack down on the table and asked Jennie to unload it. We adopted “STINKY” and set up a litter box which he took to readily. In fact the first time I let him out he about went nuts trying to get back into the box.
There was an arts and craft shop just around the corner from our apartment and most all the materials were furnished. Also one of the base personnel was a radio ham and had been given use of a shack down by the main gate. I visited with him about it, having been desirous of getting a ham license ever since grade school. This was my big chance. I made an appointment in the federal building in Honolulu and took the test. A few weeks later I received my license and went on the air from the base radio shack with the call letters W0ILY. This was right after the FCC opened licensing up again after the war as all amateur communication was shut down during hostilities.
Kaneohe was on the windward side of the island and you could always tell just how far a window had been opened as the curtains had the red volcanic ash on them and when the sudden rain squalls blew up it compounded the problem, staining them even more.
We used to watch for the good humor man in his little truck with the jingle bells on it. The wives would come running out to meet him and purchase frozen fish, shrimp, ice cream and other goodies that were not available in the commissary. It was hard to figure why eggs were $1.35 a dozen in 1946 dollars, and butter was only about 35 cents per pound.
There was a nice chiefs club right down the street but it was used mainly by the chiefs who were single or did not have their wives on the base.
We soon found we had the best beach on the island just about a half mile from our apartment and absolutely no one was ever using it. It would put Waikiki to shame and all ours, well almost, as we had mentioned it to Mildred and Roy and the three of them would accompany us once in a while. A lot of fun times relaxing in the sun out there. Right adjacent was that little cemetery with the white crosses and white picket fence where those lost on December 7th at Kaneohe were buried. One day Jennie ventured out to a large rock just off shore and while standing there a shark fin came out of the water at her feet. She came close to walking on water that day.
Lightfoots bought a surplus jeep for $225 and took us on a tour of the island. We went by the blow hole and up around Waimea Bay, by the cane fields and ended up in Honolulu.
The squadron was engaging in Sonobouy operations with the submarine fleet. We would have seven Sonobouy transmitters which would be dropped in a pattern over a suspected sub location. You could tune them in one at a time to determine which one the sub was closest to, its direction of travel and then drop the final one to let you know when it passed allowing the depth charge to be dropped on it. It was necessary to familiarize all hands with the operations so we would take sub crew members up with us and we would go down on the sub. One day it was my turn to go down on the sub and I was to be with the sonar man. We rigged for dive and the klaxon horn nearly blew your hat off to the accompaniment of “DIVE, DIVE, DIVE” and there was a noticeable change as the diesels shut down and the electric drive took over. Also I could sense the slant of the deck change. Suddenly there was a great deal of frenzied activity and the sound of water. It was blow ballast and get the bow planes up to get to the surface as quickly as possible. Once on the surface I was advised that we had dived with the main induction open. That is the main air intake for the sub.
When things normalized I told the Sonar man that I recalled reading a book in the late 30s about a sub on the east coast that dived with the main induction open and lost 33 men, it was raised and refitted, it was the old S28 boat, Squalus. He looked at me and said “This is the old S28 boat and they renamed it the Sailfish”. This was enough for me as this was supposed to be impossible, the “Christmas Tree” is supposed to be all green with no red lights before you dive. Apparently there was a malfunction both times and I vowed never to board another submarine.
Congress was cutting appropriations and we were told that we would no longer be able to throw out a set of Sonobouys and take subs out for practice. After a conference with the exec I went to the salvage yard and got a bunch of junk together and constructed a device that allowed a person to sit in the hangar and simulate the path of a sub through the water even to the sound of the props, with flight crews in the next room monitoring this on a chart. They were so proud of it they invited the Admiral to look at it the next captains inspection. I used an oblong cardboard box taped to a 33 1/3 rpm turntable with rice in the box to simulate the sound of a submarines prop under water. Upon the Admirals arrival, we turned the system on and promptly discovered mice had chewed a corner out of the box releasing the rice. We made hasty repairs and the demonstration was successful. Apparently he liked it too as I was notified that my enlistment was coming to a close and if I would ship over I would be recommended for warrant officer with the possibility of chief warrant before long.
Lightfoot tried to talk me into shipping over but I told him that once they had your name on the line they could do anything they wanted. He said he was going to ship over as he liked it out there. I told him I doubted he would stay there once he signed up.
Sure enough, he shipped over and I later found out they sent him to the Mediterranean and his wife back to Florida. We decided that the best thing for us was to take the discharge and return to Iowa.
We had bought a ’39 Packard after researching the car market and discovering that the only thing harder to get than a car was an apartment. We paid $939 for the Packard which had some rust holes in the doors. The only other possibility was a Hudson that was lying in pieces yet on the man’s floor.
At least it allowed us to get around a bit easier and we reasoned that with our mothers coming out to the west coast to meet us we could all drive back in the car. With my orders all typed up and a few good-byes we loaded our stuff into the car as the Navy was going to ship it back on the same ship we would be on. Well, surprise, through usual government efficiency they had scheduled Jennie and the car on one ship and me on another. With the help of the skipper I got that changed at the last minute. I had a little different boarding procedure than Jennie, she was comfortably on the ship and I was standing on the dock waiting to have my bags inspected. I figured they would take almost everything so I had my flight gear and 45 automatic right on top. I had previously tried to turn in the 45 and was told they had no method of accounting for it. They pushed all that stuff aside and asked if I had any lighter fluid or photos. When told I didn’t have any of that they passed me by.
We had a nice uneventful leisurely cruise back to the states with one last look at Diamond Head, leaving October 30 and arriving at San Francisco 0845, November 5 where I drove the car off the ship and we went to pick up Jennie’s mother and drove to Denair where my mother was waiting. I then went to Treasure Island and spent the day going through the separation process and receiving my mustering out pay.
To complete my role as a civilian I went to a men’s clothing store to celebrate my entry into the outside world. I remembered that six years ago I had also walked in for a clothing change.
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