Irv the Oil King

When I first boarded the Douglas L. Howard I was asked what I would like to do, Electrician sounded good so I was assigned to the Black gang or engineers. I was given a book for the next rate of first class fireman and I began to study. I was getting 26.50 every two weeks, but then everything was provided, food, clothes, medical care etc. I was young, unmarried, didn't drink (too young) or smoke. I was ambitious and had a girl and some extra money would come in handy when I got home on leave.

I got wind of a rate that was open, Oil King. I went to the engineering officer and applied for the job. He asked if I was good with numbers and of coarse I said Yes. This job was on top of standing my regular watch, doing repairs, or anything that they could think of for the new kid. Go get a cable stretcher, or some other nonexistent tool. When I finally caught on to their game I would take 2-3 hrs to find it and they stopped the game, the extra sleep helped.

The Oil Kings job was to figure out how much fuel oil we were using by taking inventory every week and figure average speed, distance etc, so we knew when to take on fuel. I had to climb into the fuel tanks to try and measure the oil. A DE pitches and rolls every second and many times I got a oil bath if the weather was mildly rough. The first weeks numbers were great and the engineering officer danced a little gig and said the job was mine.

After 3-4 weeks I asked for the Oil King rate and was told it wasn't available, so I asked for the next rate up, fireman first class and again he refused. I sort of lost interest in the Oil King job and began estimating oil usage without actually going into the oil tanks. The officer evidently didn't look at my reports and when I was discharged and leaving the ship the engineering officer, who was discharged a month before was coming back on board to answer where thousands of gallons of fuel oil went. As an un-rated man I was not responsible for anything and walked away.