PG ships with the Merchant Marine in WWII.
Susie Shusterman Kaplan White, born 1876, dies.
(TD’s maternal grandmother)
They also hitchhiked to Colorado that year to investigate the idea of becoming farmers after the war. The people PG talked with Colorado State University in Fort Collins weren’t very encouraging, since they hadn’t grown up with that kind of life.
I officially entered the U. S. Maritime Service in February 1943. I applied for and was accepted in “Ship’s Company” which meant that instead of training to be a sailor, I worked in the administration of the base at Sheepshead Bay. I started in the accounting office, but when they discovered I had a college degree in mathematics, they asked me to design and teach a course in remedial mathematics (i. e. arithmetic!) to would-be pursers and radio operators who were flunking out of their specialty schools. The course lasted four weeks, I taught 4 hour-long sections every evening, and a new section started each week. I reported directly to two different Lieutenant-Commanders who never spoke to each other, so I was probably the most independent Yeoman 3rd class on the base. Demand increased and I had an assistant Ship’s Company man and four or more trainees as my graders for their “work week” (even though I might have been a hard taskmaster, it was considered better than peeling potatoes). At the height of my empire I also taught some “advanced classes” in the afternoon to men who had been accepted for radio school but were stuck in a backlog at Sheepshead Bay. My brother Max and several of my college classmates took my course(s) and then worked as my assistants.
My hours at the base were noon to 10 pm five days a week plus occasional weekend duty. Thea and I lived in a cozy apartment at 22 Corbin Place Brighton Beach – a ten minute walk to the base and less than that to the BMT line to Manhattan where Thea worked normal hours as assistant to the Provost of New York University in Washington Square. A great start to married life in wartime.
This idyllic state of affairs lasted more than a year, but the draft kept dipping deeper in the barrel, and Ship’s Company able-bodied men were being drafted into the army. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, I completed my basic and advanced seaman training one course at a time in the morning, and prepared to “ship out”. They told me I had about three weeks “leave” coming, and to take it or lose it, hence the hitch-hiking trip to Colorado. And on June 6, 1944 (D-Day) I was at sea as an Ordinary Seaman on the SS Francis Marion.
Either 1944 or 1945 there is a pocket in the ship containing part of a handkerchief that Margie “borrowed” from Thea’s dresser.
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