“Now hear this, Liberty Call, Liberty Call! Liberty commences at 1600 for sections 2 & 3…”
This was the most welcome sound to come over the 1MC.
It was January 1969, San Diego, California. I’ve just been paid, $45.50 in cash. It’s Friday night and I have the weekend off. I’ve just spent my first week on the ship in the bilge, in Main Control, chipping paint. The recruiter never told me about this. What’s a sailor to do? Since this $45.50 has to last 15 days, I head to the Mess Deck and fill up on some of that good old Navy chow. Cup of Joe, Mystery Meat, Reconstituted Milk, Powdered Eggs and Bug Juice! Ah, the memories.
Now I have my belly full, I hit the rain locker for a shower, and get into my standard issue wool dress blues. Two red stripes and one military service ribbon. Those old salts in their gabardines sure look good. I think I’ll get a set of those when we get to Hong Kong and maybe a tattoo as well. I gather my forty-five bucks, my Liberty Card and head topside to catch the water taxi to the beach for a night of walking up and down Broadway. That’s all there was to do. No money, no car, 18 years old, and not old enough to bar hop either; Just walk up and down Broadway. And man was that weird.
Many thanks and my greatest appreciation to Peter A. Pizzi (4th Division, 1961-1964) who let me borrow the 1962 Cruise Book. The 1962 Cruise Book is now shown in the web site. Many thanks also, and my greatest appreciation as well to Stephen R. Dall (Mike Division, 1968-1969) for letting me borrow the 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969 Cruise Books, which are now displayed on the web site. I am very thankful to Mrs. Joan Irwin, wife of the late Commander Kay Irwin, who loaned me the 1960 Cruise Book.
I will never forget the first time we had liberty call in Yokosuka, Japan. My friend Leo and I went ashore to check the place out.
After spending some time in the Cabaret Black Rose and had a couple of cool ones we started getting hungry and decided to get something to eat. Suddenly, we remember we were in another country faraway from our hometowns. There was no way we were going to be able to order “Tacos,” “Enchiladas,” much less “Chile Rellenos” with beans. Leo said not to worry, he knew how and what to order. Once we found a restaurant, we thought we liked, we went in and sat down. A Japanese waiter quickly presented us with a menu. I for one did not know what to do with it. Everything was in Japanese. I asked my friend Leo what he was going to order. I figured he knew because he kept on looking at the menu like as if he was reading it. Soon a Japanese waiter showed up, Leo told him to get us some Saki, and he pointed to some plate on the menu. I sat there and took in the scenery.
He met my Mom when he was stationed in Long Beach, California at what was then called “The Pike.” My father loved to travel and especially the Navy.
My most happy moments were when he took us to see the ships in the harbor. In particular, it was a special moment when he took us to the open house the USS SAINT PAUL had when it was in Long Beach, California during the 1960’s.
The most important thing that I could say about my father, Erasmo O. Tovar, and the Navy is one word – Proud!!
My father enlisted in the Navy at the age of 21 years old. His passion for what the Navy and the world had to offer was endless. The stories that my father told us was that he enjoyed traveling (Hawaii, Japan, Taiwan & Philippines), cooking in the kitchen and having fun with his buddies. He had a position as -Masters of Arms and Crewman.
I just wished that he could of seen what the world had to offer him of the past and memories of his cruise ship.
We are very proud of you Dad and your accomplishments.
– Elizabeth Lopez
Anecdotes about C.V. Ricketts who was captain in 1955-1956
As a Lt. on December 7, 1941, he was the assistant gunnery officer on the USS West Virginia. On his own, he went to damage control central and prevented her from capsizing. She had seven torpedoes in her side just like the Oklahoma. Look at pictures of Pearl Harbor, and you see the West Virginia next to the Tennessee and it does not look like she sunk, but she did. I do not believe that any one on the St. Paul knew that Captain Ricketts was the one who had saved the West Virginia. I found out about it after my wife got me a series of Morrison’s naval history series. He would come to the wardroom and apologize to the officer’s of the deck for taking the Conn away from them. No captain needs to apologize to any OOD!