58 Chevy, Warm Beer and Music


In the summer of ‘75, shortly after I'd reported aboard USS ANDREW JACKSON SSBN 619 B, one of my running mates (a TMSN, who, since he's respectable now, will remain nameless, but since he is a grown man and not innocent, will go by his initials JW) and I were scheduled to take the weekend off ! He was from Long Island and had taken me back home with him a couple of other times.

This particular weekend was gonna be a wild one. The plan was, get to his parents house in time for dinner, change and head down to the marina, to his dad's sailboat... JW had arranged for us to meet a couple of girls he had graduated from high school with, at the marina, but our Chief had other plans...

We had the most junior division in the weapons department. Besides the Chief, we had a TM2(SS), me (TM3 non-qual) and three TMSNs, so we always got all the shit jobs. Anyway, this one particular day (prior to our planned weekend) we had skipped eating lunch, working straight through so that we could leave on time. But the Chief foiled that plan... No matter what we did and completed, he came up with something else... So instead of leaving at 1400 (early liberty), we didn't hit the beach until 1630.

To say that we were pissed was the understatement of the day. For the record, the Chief's name was Langer TMC(SS) (my sea daddy, who the day I reported aboard was a TM1). He put on khakis during the first week I reported onboard...

Well, JW and I finally get underway, head to the barracks, grab our AWOL bags, stuff them with some clothes and our ditty bags and head on down the highway. JW had a neat car, a ‘58 Chevy convertible, white with red interior. This was a bitchin' ride and one of it's best features was an 8-track tape deck, complete with quadraphonic speakers.

It was a hot, beautiful day, we had the top down, the wind blowing in our hair, and we were tooling down I-95. We made a quick stop in New London at a package store and we each bought a six pack of beer (back then it was legal, in the state of Connecticut, for the passenger to have an open container) but we didn't have a cooler, so we both grabbed a can and put the rest in the back seat, yep, directly in the sunlight... Now we all know, drinking and driving don't mix, but it definitely don't mix with a pissed off attitude. JW was driving and we were probably on our second can of beer when he started to pass an 18-wheeler, all of a sudden JW swerved to the right (my friggin' side), right at the side of the trailer!!!! I hollered,

"What the f*ck?!? Are you trying to kill us?!?"

He said,

"No, but look at the name on the side of the trailer."

So I looked and wouldn't ya' know it, it said "LANGER TRANSPORT" in big bold letters on the side. I said,

"So what, you think you can run him off the road with this? Besides, if Chief Langer owned a trucking company you think he’d still be in the Navy?"

Well he did quit trying to play demolition derby with a semi and we finally reached the Throgs Neck Bridge, well at least we made it to the off ramp, at about the same time as damn near everybody else in New York... We sat in the car with the music cranked up really loud and drank our beer, we sat on the back of the seat, talking to our new found friends stuck in a traffic jam, we were crankin' Led Zepplin and the albino himself; Edgar Winter, our favorite FRANKENSTEIN.

Some people were annoyed with us, but for the most part we were surrounded by folks just enjoying the tunes and life. We finally made it on to Long Island and made it to the marina...

Well there we were, at the marina, we had finally arrived... No thanks to a certain TMC.

We had stopped in town, while passing through, and bought a lot more beer. We loaded up the sailboat and took off out into the sound. We headed to another marina to pick up the girls... Oh, oh, bad news... Only one showed up, guess who she was waiting for? Yep, Billy Bob's luck was still holding out... She was JW's old girl friend... Looking for him.

We motored back out into the sound and dropped anchor. We decided to go skinny dipping... We'd jump off the bow and swim to the stern and climb back up using a small jacob's ladder. I was a little hesitant about this plan, since I had just gone to the movies and had seen the movie 'JAWS'. Now, I had never been afraid to swim anywhere, until I saw that movie, but I went anyway.

We had been swimming for a while and decided to take a break. We sat forward of the cabin, drinking beer and tossing the empties out into the water and watched them sink (I know, I know, I feel bad about it now) and if they didn't sink we had to jump in, swim out to it and sink it. Well, ol' Billy Bob chugged one, crunched it and heaved that sonvabitch out into the briny deep, and naturally the little bastard floated. So as per the rules, I dove in, swam out to the can and held it under water ‘til it sank.

Without me knowing it, JW had slipped into the water and was hanging onto the anchor line. As I neared the bow, he dove under water and swam underneath me and brushed my leg... BOY, HOWDY, DID I MOVE!! I got my narrow ass out of the water, like right now!!!! JW almost drowned, he was laughing so hard... His girlfriend was also laughing so hard that she damn near fell out of the boat. Well, he's laughing too hard to get onboard by himself and she was in no condition to help him either, and I was damn sure not helping him... Finally he climbs onboard and tells me that he has never seen anybody move that fast. I didn't know how I got on the boat until he told me. JW said,

"It was the weirdest thing... It's like you climbed an invisible ladder on the bow... One minute you were in the water and the next you were standing on the bow. It actually looked like a giant leap!"

To say I was scared would be an understatement...

I still like skinny dipping, don't like swimming in the ocean, don't care for warm beer, but I do enjoy eating shark steaks and I still love listening to 'FRANKENSTEIN'.

Billy Lary


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