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My First Five Years at Sea

Updated: Feb 9


"I wandered the streets of the Battery section of Boston with no particular destination and not paying attention to where I was going.  Streets of Boston weave in a bizarre direction as if a lunatic had been the architect, and it didn’t take long before I was irreversibly lost.  In Kansas roads are laid-out in a east-west, north-south direction making it nearly impossible for the most navigationally challenged to get lost.  But there I was trying to untangle my mess and the harder I tried the worse it got.  After what must have been an hour of zig zagging I ended up in a rough part of town near the water-front, punctuated with seedy establishments.  I was not predisposed to enter any of them, but was getting desperate and in need of directions. I looked for a well lit place, not too intimidating, and turning a corner there it was, the Monkey Tavern…a joint I will never forget.  I made up my mind, sucked up my courage, and entered.   Immediately I was overwhelmed by a cloud of smoke that burned my eyes and nearly choked the life out of me.   Wheezing and squinting I could make out a few old men at the bar hunched over their beers, cigarettes dangling from corners of their mouths, not looking and not seeing.  I heard tell there remained a few hold-outs, speakeasies I think they were called, where a man could still buy alcoholic drinks…..and well, looked like I found one.  I thought to myself mama would sure have a hay-day in here.  A nefarious character was talking to a prickly looking bar maid.  Covered in tattoos with thick make-up layered over cracks, what other people call wrinkles, it was obvious she was hard as nails and wouldn’t tolerate any nonsense.  A sign above the bar informed patrons to keep their hands off her…a totally unnecessary warning.  She gave me a look that I was not welcome and definitely in the wrong place.  Searching for a friendly face in the half-light of the bar I saw a few tables with more of what appeared like the nearly dead perched on chairs waiting their turn for the grim reaper to catch up with them.  I could tell by the décor that I had wandered into a seamen’s bar.  And the creatures I beheld were seamen, or had been seamen at one time.”

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