LIFE AT SAMPSON
Navy Teaches Recruits to Care for Bunks, Wash Own clothing.
Care for Lockers and Barracks, and Do a Lot of Other Daily Routine work.
By Frederick W. Box-Co. 115
Article No. 4
The Navy first teaches recruits how to shift for themselves. With the exception of “chow” the recruit must do all his own personal work, including making beds, keeping his locker in order, washing clothes, and keeping the barracks in spotless shape.
It took us only a couple of days to learn the trick of making up the bunks in prescribed Navy fashion (or so we thought.) After a couple of inspections by the battalion commander, we found out differently.
The pillow must face the foot of the bed so the stenciled name can be read easily by any passing officer, the mattress cover must be smartly smooth, the blankets must be folded carefully and placed about twelve inches from the foot of the bunk, and a clean small hand towel must hang over the end of the bunk with the name showing at the bottom outside.
During the work day, the recruit must have his bunk ready for inspection at all times. A habit of recruits is to leave stray clothing and stationery on the bunks.
After several warning, our company commander surprised us by calling for a bunk inspection at noon chow period. Sure enough nearly 80 percent of the men had tucked some article under the pillow, blankets, or mattress. That incident did much to keep each one of us on our toes thereafter.
Barracks and personal cleanliness are watched carefully. Dirty clothes, failure to shave, or dirty bedclothing bring reprimands and give the company a black mark. In some instances, guilty parties are assessed extra watch duty, special cleanup assignments, or other “training” to bring about cleanliness in the future. Each man is furnished with a scrubbing brush and soap, which, with a bit of personal initiative, spells “clean clothes.”
Many men who had never been closer to washing clothes than to be in the same room with a washing machine now are crack scrubbers. We have learned just how much soap each item requires before the scrubbing starts. We found quickly that the dark clothing must be kept away from the “whites” to avoid “hard to remove” stains. Other little tricks soon were mastered so that the washing time was cut from several hours to a matter of less than an hour. Ringers are provided so the clothes dry quickly.
Clothes are tied to lines in the drying room with “clothes stops”- small sections of rope which are tied to the corners of the clothing.
All clothing and gear issued to a sailor must be packed in his locker in regulation manner. Whites are placed on the top shelf, blues on the second, and shoes and toilet articles on the bottom shelf with the dress hat. A side compartment is for the pea-coat, ditty bag and stationery.
Failure to follow rules in storing locker gear is carefully watched by the company commander, his officers, and inspecting officers.
In addition to the personal responsibilities of the recruit, he has company duties in keeping the barracks clean.
Our company is divided into Port and Starboard details. Every morning one of them takes the cleaning detail. Groups of men are assigned to service on the “main deck”, “head”, laundry room, hallway, stairs, and commander’s office, and the windows.
In the hour between 5:45 to 6:45 a.m., these details swab the deck, clean the bulkheads (walls and windows), shine up the “head” mirrors, basins, shower room and the laundry pails.
Because the entire barracks must be in readiness for inspection during working hours, we recruits are allowed to smoke inside only a short time after mid-day chow. Then the smoking buckets must be cleaned, should an afternoon inspection be made. After working hours, smoking is allowed, but only in a special room in the “head.” In Navy terms, smoking is permitted only when the “lamp is on.”
Although most of us do not realize it, we gradually drop our dislike for certain foods. Of course, we eat only what we want, but after several hours of marching, work detail or other activity we are hungry enough to eat almost anything.
Naturally the corpulent boys are losing weight and the slimmer ones are gaining poundage, as all of us quickly round into fighting shape.