|Seems that there was a dashing river
boat skipper by the name of Don Whitmire who, as legend has it, bore a
striking resemblence to Burl Ives. And had the nickname and voice call
of BIG DADDY.
OK, inbound from a hard day off Block
Island, Friday afternoon, RR drawbridge down. So Big Daddy drops the masts
and does a quick cycle of the vents, sets down a little more in the river
Thames. At this point the tales vary as to whether he was at 2/3 or FULL
on 4. Either way it makes for a good tale, so let's not let that detail
hang us up any.
Roars thru the narrow gap at RR bridge
center span and continues smoking on up river. Then the bend with the current
running full ebb, Big Daddy has Right Full Runner on and his bridge-running
speed still rung up.
Punches thru into the lee of the bend,
coming up on the pier like a bat outta hell. Big Daddy was reputed to be
a real shiphandler, you know, a 2-bell landing that the arcballers love
so much while the QMs are cringing under the DRT.
MANEUVERING - BRIDGE - ALL BACK FULL
says the Skipper. Nothing. DAMMIT, ALL BACK FULL he says again. DAMMIT,
AYE comes the 7MC.
OK, now youse River Rats know this scene
but the rest don't so a short intermission while I paint a quick picture.
Finger pier square out from the head of the wharf, wide enough to walk
on, built for one boat on each side. Reserved parking place for the CO
and XO on each side of the head of the pier. Pay phone booth also there,
usually on the port side inbound. (Or if you insist, north side)
Big Daddy, finally gets his backing
bell, white water roaring up over the turtleback, driving the linehandlers
to run for cover. Foam pouring down into the ATR. Sick blue-black smoke
pouring outta the outboards, must have been a GM boat.
Fleet bow, OK.
Heavy timber bumper on the wharf at
the head of the pier. Got it?
Remember the phone booth?
Some CS1(SS) who had stayed in for the
day was in the booth on the phone. Hears something, turns and looks. Jaysus,
the damm bullnose right against his phone booth window, he drops the phone
and dives headfirst out of the booth.
Big Daddy continues with that strong
fleet bow riding up on the wooden bumper, knocks the phone booth over ...
onto the XO's sports convertible! Stewburner ducked all the shrapnel and
flying glass, sniffing his breath to see if maybe he did have one too many
Line crew on the pier also into deep
hiding, finally look out to see Big Daddy and boat sitting neatly alongside,
starboard side to, so they take the lines and make up the moor.
Big Daddy's explanation to DEPCOMSUBLANT
musta worked for his part of the scene, but the XO had a helluva time with
his insurance report which claimed that his car was damaged by a falling
telephone booth that had been rammed by a submarine.
OK, River Rats, true story or not??
If yes, what was the Boat's name??
FOLLOW-UP POSTING BY Tom Curtis
on July 09, 1998
There was an All-American tackle at
Navy from 1941 to 1944 by the name of Don Whitmire. He is in the College
Football Hall of Fame. Could this also be "Big Daddy"?
Note: ///SOB's answer was: "One and