Sid's N T I N S Locker

Green Mint Jelly and other Stuff
by Sid Harrison
July 2004

A mind burp about some 1960s-1970s FBM phrases and things they say now

UNEVENTFUL     I had forgotten that standard cold-war patrol response.

Always when you returned from a Cold War FBM patrol someone you knew on the tender or a buddy from another submarine would ask, "Howaztherun?". The standard answer was, "Uneventful". Meaning no "close encounters" of the worst kind --- you didn't drop out of "alert" mode --- and nobody hung themselves in the Lower Level Missile Compartment.

BUBBLEHEAD     The term BUBBLEHEAD was just starting to be used by submariners in reference to themselves when I went to my last FBM in 1972 after a tour of instructor duty.

Up till then I recall it was very definitely a derisive word. Usually thrown at submarine sailors by the tender ship's company. More often than not you would hear some goofy deck seaman holler it from the 04 level of the tender - then he would hide. Of course the answer back from the boat was normally some unimaginative response such as, "f**k you tender puke". I'm sure that made the little weasel up there giggle. Also used by the tender Chief on the quarterdeck. As in, "Don't you friggin bubbleheads know how to wear a gahdamn proper uniform?"

BOOMER     Not a term much used (if ever?) in the earlier days of FBMs --- particularly when we all carried POLARIS missiles. At that time they were simply referred to as "SSBNs", "FBMs" or "Polaris boats". Then along came the POSEIDON birds and there was one more name for FBMs. So that was when, I suppose, the word BOOMER began to come into common usage.

As the letters F-B-M easily become the sound "fuh-boom" it seems like a natural doesn't it?

CONER     Used to describe what we would have affectionately called "forward pukes", as in: those forward of the RC (I was one). I never heard of this term until I saw it on a BBS or in someone's webpage.

SQUID     Now that's a term I had never heard until a few years ago when I rented the movie "The Great Santini" (About a Marine Colonel fighter pilot - starred Robert Duval -- good flick by the way). I got the impression it was what Marines called Sailors. Well I never knew that. They never tell me anything here at the home.

So of course when I got on the net I see the younger submariners are referring to one another as squids.

At least it's better than being called a GOB. Where the hell did "GOB" come from anyway? It was in common usage in the WWII era I believe.

INITIATED BY CHOICE     In reference to CPO initiations. It took me some pondering over this one the first time I saw it used on the internet. I eventually deduced it was some kind of new-Navy, kinder-gentler-thought-adjustment thing.

Obviously intended to make sailors a little more civilized and to address the "sensitivities and needs" of each individual. Then when I saw phrases like "initiation season" I knew it had been a very long time since my retirement in 1976.

CMC     The acronym for the senior enlisted at a particular command (back then) was MCPOC (pronounced as "MIC-POCK") or the MASTER CHIEF PETTY OFFICER OF THE COMMAND aka the COB to a submariner. Now it's changed to CMC (Command Master Chief) -- well that's an improvement anyway.

EAB     A term that may not be familiar to guys from the older boats: EMERGENCY AIR BREATHING system.

The entire boat was piped with an air system of breathing quality with little orange manifolds located throughout the boat (I think they were orange). Anyway EAB lockers of course were located throughout every compartment.

In the event of a fire (smoke), or mayhaps "a spill", the word would be passed to "don EABs". Each EAB unit had a coupling so that anther person could hook into yours if need be. Made MC transmissions and SP phone communications sound funny too.

Of course there was a recreational aspect to them. Does anyone recall EAB races? You would start at the forward most connection in the Torpedo Room, don your EAB. take a big lung full, unplug and run like hell to the furthest EAB manifold you could find without passing out. Plug-in, take another couple of gulps and repeat. The guy with the shortest time to the manifold the farthest aft in the engine room won the race.

That may not be allowed anymore. Someone might whack their shins on a WT door knife edge.

HALF-WAY NIGHT     Comprised of skits, spoofs and lampoons of anyone or anything. It was the one time that you could take a shot at anyone and get away with it. No subject or person was off-limits. Also included talent shows such as guitar pickin', barbershop singing and one guy even had a little magic act. Some of the talent was pretty good too.

We had a CS1 - that's a Commissaryman (before MS ... Mess Specialists) - who always brought two seabags. One for his regular uniform stuff and one was full of props. He was our permanent Master of Ceremonies. Built about like Lou Costello and he was a natural comedian. Although he may have starved in Vegas we still appreciated his antics.

His props also had things he used for other occasions such as "specialty meals" -- Italian night for example. He had fake handlebar mustaches, and berets and colorful shirts that he and the cranks would wear. Stuff like that.

His classic line, that he could be counted on to yell out at the first meal served after securing the maneuvering watch heading out, was "This goddamned patrol sure is draggin' ain't it?". It was kind of a ritual and always got a lot of laughs and hoots. Well, maybe it actually wasn't so funny being on the front end of 75 days of submerged time.

He had a notebook full of jokes and ideas for skits. I guess being the duty entertainer was his hobby. He fed us well and kept us amused anyway.

The guy was Dixon CS1(SS) He was naturally called Dixie. I don't recall his first name.

And on the subject of chow, who could forget HOCKEY PUCKS and GUT BOMBS (aka "sliders")... or when the cook was asked what's for chow you got the standard response, "Cake and cock and I just ate the cake".

GREEN MINT JELLY     A food related memory. There was some kind of a green-mint jelly that I think was supposed to go with a particular meat. (Lamb maybe?) Perhaps a former cook remembers it's intended use. All I know is it wasn't worth a damn on bread or for anything else that we could think of.

It turns out that early in the boat's life someone had screwed up badly and ordered several case of the damned stuff. They were big jars too. They knocked around in the benchseat stowage areas in the crew's dinette for the entire time I was on SSBN 617 right up until we took her into EB in 1968. Then they went in the dumpster. All along they had been dutifully inventoried at every turn-over.

Odd, the stuff we remember isn't it?

I'm hungry now -- going to have some green-mint jelly on toast. NOT!

Well that's about it for now. I got stuff to do. Can't hang around here all day. Some of us have important things to accomplish. Well maybe a few things that could be put off until tomorrow. Hmmm, we'll see.

Another term just came to mind: "horse hockey"