Sid's N T I N S Locker
Alternate uses for Terrycloth
(Illustrating the "law of unintended consequences")
by Tom McNulty
December 16, 2000
I don't know what kicked in this old sea story. 

The time was the winter of 1967. We were told prior to patrol that we would not be returning to Holy Loch but would be extended as the boat was going to Charleston to off-load weapons. Then we would be relieved and flown back to NLON. That patrol was different than usual. We carried a few extra "Yeomen" and we expected to have a longer run than usual, about two extra weeks.

After the run was over we set a course for Charleston only to be put in a holding pattern. The good news was passed on the 1MC that we had no berth at Charleston and would have to spend two weeks in the Caribbean at P.R. and St. Croix. It was to make up for the extra sea time. Now keep in mind that for a NLON/Holy Loch run, not everyone carried a set of Whites. Here we are on the way to St. Croix, not a good place to hit the beach in Dress Blues. We were told that we could hit the beach, but in uniform only, no work duds. Some one made the point of the Blues and asked about civvies. Ok by the wardroom.

I don't know who started it but there was a run on Terrycloth rolls. Suddenly the boat is buzzing with tailoring shirts using the cloth and shot line. The civilians wondered what the hell Navy we were from. It got back to the Wardroom that the island government was not happy with our image. Back to uniforms. What happened next made the home made shirts look great. The liberty section borrowed what few Whites were owned by the duty section. You want to see 10lbs of potatoes in a 5lb sack or vice versa? We had a ball anyway.

And it gets worse. 

The StoreKeeps, who didn't really grasp the extra bodies and time at sea, didn't load enough toilet paper. Realizing an impending shortage was imminent, the P.O.D. included regular messages on how to conserve paper. This included folding methods as well as menu suggestions for the cook. Well, the paper eventually depleted enough that other drastic measures were sought. Aha! Terrycloth. Of course the laundry queen was totally against this. The rolls of Terrycloth were ordered to be broke out and cut in 12"x12" pieces and placed in the 40/80 club for crew use. 

Due to the shirt making, alas not much cloth left. At that point, mid-rats are canceled as well as any fried chow. The P.O.D. ordered all to minimize use of the head, in other words hang on until you pass out from pain. Most of us just stopped eating. Hell, it was only for a few days anyhow. We were damn glad to see the end of that run. 

Oh yes, the SK and Supply Officer never appeared again.