April 19, 2014
Voyage to Alaska brings back memories PDF Print E-mail

Editor:
There were two items of interest in last week’s paper, the continuation of Beardstown’s Red Norvo, and Frieda Marie Crump’s interest and delight in Alaska.
In the last nine months of WWII, I was assigned Gunnery Officer, of the US?Navy’s Armed Guard Gun Crew about the Standard Oil “SS. Lombardi tanker, “Hamed”?at the Standard Oil Refinery at Martinize, located across the bay from San Francisco. By that time the Pacific coast was relatively free of submarine possibilities - so it was great duty.
Freida was delighted by the extremely beautiful “Inland Passage,” or group of islands off the coast of the US &?Canada. We didn’t need the protection of the inland passage for very long, and then made our way directly over the Alaskan Gulf to Seward, on the Kenni Penninsula, the main distribution plant for all petroleum products for our Armed Services.
A usual voyage of four days, we also made brief unloadings for civilian use at Valdez, Cardova, Sitka, Juneau, and Ketchican.
Then back to San Francisco, and blue beach for five to seven days before a return trip. Judy had a comfortable one room apartment with cooking privileges, so it worked out exceedingly well for us.
Being an old “River Rat,” I was only acquainted with “Fried Fish”: cat, crappie, sunfish, and occasional bass and turtle.
The first time I saw a big king crab, it looked like a big spider to me, I didn’t want any part of it. Gradually the steward started feeding me crab salad and not recognizing it, I?thought it wasn’t bad. So I started eating king crab aboard ship and omitting the $16.00 a pound ones in San Francisco.
We had an older Norweigen fisherman aboard as “bar & part pilot, who navigated the fog enclosed inner passage by blowing the ship’s horn, and used he resounding echoes until we emerged in open seas, no radar!
I remember no sandy beaches, the mountain sides rose directly from the sea, and some days you could see the Chucline Mountains, the second rage of mountains behind -what a snow crusted sight!
Yes, what a way to end the war.

John A. Schaffer