My Favorite Veteran

Dad's Navy Photo My dad was in the US Navy during the Korean Conflict. His time in the Navy is what he tends to remember the most and he never tires talking about the places he saw while on his tours of duty.

Things I remember him telling me include:

  • Buying a pair of binoculars to spy on the women at the topless beach
  • Driving to and from Philadelphia in a car with a rumble seat.
  • Eating chipped beef (and liking it!)
  • Seeing the Rock of Gibraltar
  • Being offered a job and the option to inherit the family business if he’d marry someone’s daughter (someone he was not in love with)
  • The time he shook hands with Gary Cooper and gave him a cup of coffee. Cooper was on board my dad’s ship because it was being used in the film, You’re In the Navy Now.

Things I didn’t know, but learned today while going through a packet of his papers and photographs, were:

  • he was an associate member of the Thorland Club — a club in Haiti, if the few sources I found on the Internet can be believed

thorlandclub

  • He crossed the Arctic Circle on November 12, 1949 and thus became a member of the Royal Order of Blue Noses.

bluenoseclub

  • That my dad was among the first crew on the ship when it was commissioned, making him eligible to be a Plank Owner.

plankowner

Looking at the post cards my dad bought while on his various tours of duty makes it look like his time in the Navy was akin to being on a cruise ship, but I’m sure he just told me the good parts. He probably had to work hard at his job and I’m willing to bet he was pretty good at it.

6 thoughts on “My Favorite Veteran

  1. Wow! You found some real treasures! Your dad sounds like quite a guy…Thank him for his service for me and give him a hug. I think this should be Hug a Vet day instead of just Veterans Day. Much warmer and fuzzier.

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  2. Hug a Vet Day — now that sounds like a good idea. I really had not given Veteran’s Day much thought, but when looking at Dad’s things figured I should share them. I guess I should also give them back to him! Maybe framed or something.

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  3. I was doing a Google search on Thorland Club after having sent a note to an old Haitian friend of mine in which I mentioned it. I grew up in Haiti;lived there from 48 to 55 ( age 8 to 15). The Thorland Club was one of my early favorite spots to visit, before my parents joined the Petionville Club. It was located ten minutes south west of Port-au-Prince, easily accessible by “tap-tap” (the open air bench seat pick-truck based jitneys) and was first owned and operated by Arthur Vincent, then sold to Bill Vrooman, father of two of my best friends, Stanley and Craig. It had tennis courts and a swimming pool, a masseuse, and I guess it may have had a guest house room type of operation as well. It was a favorite party spot for the local ex-pats and their kids. Leonard Bernstein visited there while my parents were there one evening, and since the US Navy, conducting training out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, used to come over as a favorite liberty port (less than a one day sail away) there were sailors over at the club all the time. The initials on the membership card were “BMV” which undoubtedly stood for Bill M Vrooman.

    I take it your Dad never lived there, just passed through, right?

    Most interesting!

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  4. Thank you for the comment on my blog, Paul.
    Actually, I don’t know if my dad ever even went to the Thorland Club — he never mentioned it — but I never asked. I could ask him now, but he may not remember. He did have a card for the club though — as seen in the post.
    Thank you for explaining what the Thorland Club was — this is wonderful!
    You’re right, he was just passing through as a sailor and never lived there.

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