Sid's N T I N S Locker
by John K. Ellett, RMC USN(Ret)
Chapters:  1  ||  2  ||  3  ||  4  ||  6
Chapter Five

Off To The Carnival

After reluctantly, more or less, visiting Naples Italy, Nice France and some other ports of call, we were designated to go to Bandol France for the Fourth of July holiday.

At the time, and presumably nowadays, the French celebrate our Fourth, and then continue until Bastille Day on the 14th of July.  And we were under orders to remain there for all ten days of this celebration.  Orders, mind you.  Heck it would have taken the entire National Police Force to get us to leave.  And it almost did, too.

Two small examples of our exchange of good will with the French citizenry.  There was a carnival in town for the Holiday.  This was what was known in those days as “A bad idea”.  However, as guests of the country we couldn’t complain.

Big Mistake Number One. In this carnival, there existed a shooting gallery.  One of those ‘pick up a rifle and see if you can shoot a clay pipe’ kind.  10 shots for X number of Francs.  And, here came a bunch of excitement starved country boys that had been shooting at moving things since we were knee high to a short duck.  AND, the prize if you could shoot off 5 clay pipes in 10 shots was a bottle of really bad red wine.

France, you know.

I think I know why the French have so much troubles winning wars.  The clay pipes were so close that we could have almost knocked them over with the muzzle of the .22 rifles the stand provided. Heck, had the sights of the rifles been completely filed off, most of us would have won a bottle, anyway.

Suffice it to say, there soon was a large number of Sailors wandering around the carnival grounds, a bottle of truly BAD red wine clutched in both hands and some with an ’emergency’ bottle stuffed inside their jumper.  Just in case, you understand.  First Aid supplies, maybe.  And the shooting gallery was closed for the day.  Apparently we had drained his supply of prizes. Happens in the commercial world, I suppose.

Come to think of it, he never did reopen while we were there.  Strange.  Possibly he was reminded of some important business at home, or went on vacation.

Big Mistake Number Two.

Included in the fun things to do was a concession featuring Bumper Cars.  First of all, let me state that mixing Bumper Cars and a bunch of somewhat gently wine affected Sailors is a mixture that makes World War II look like a tea party.

Allow me to say that a good time was had by all, except for the operator of the Bumper Cars, and the Shipmate we sent off to the hospital suffering from a possible fractured neck.

It is surprising how much energy can be packed into a couple of bumper cars, if each one starts at the furthest reaches of the floor and meet head on somewhere about the center.

Good liberty time.

I did notice the next time we went ashore and walked by the bumper car concession, that the operator had the power turned down real low and as soon as he saw us, he put his hand on the lever in case he had to reduce it further. I sometimes think he did not trust us North American Blue Jackets any more.  Education is a wonderful thing.

Shortly afterwards, we received orders to proceed back to Norfolk.  Whether this was a result of the French Government’s demand or just the normal end of our cruise was the subject of debate for some time afterward.

Sid's N T I N S Locker
Chapters:  1  ||  2  ||  3  ||  4  ||  6