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"Why I Joined the Navy"
Submitted by Powell Black

It was during World War II. Our ship, the USS EURYALE, a submarine tender, was docked in Fremantle, Austraulia. We were the "Home away from home" for submarines. One day a friend of mine and I went on liberty. We felt we needed to go into Perth since Fremantle was a small port town, and most of us on the ship thought Perth was much larger and better place to visit.

On our way to Perth, my friend asked if I would like to go with him to one of the local "places of ill repute." I responded that I was married and not interested. He insisted, so I decided to go with him. I had pulled shore patrol in Panama and had a good idea of what such a place would be like; however, the place we visited was a complete surprise. From it's outside appearance, it was nothing like Panama but a first class home in a real nice residential district.

We arrived in our whites, he went inside and I waited outside leaning on an iron fence surrounding the place. While I was waiting, a window opened near where I was waiting and one of the "ladies of the house" called to me asking why I didn't come in. I responded that I was married and was waiting for a friend. She was rather insistent and told me we could at least visit, so I told her I would come in and we could talk.

I went inside and when I came to her floor, she was waiting for me. As we entered her room, she began to undress. I told her to stop, that I was not interested in that. She reluctantly agreed and we sat on her bed and began to talk about the weather, how the war was going, etc. Finally, I asked her why she was in "that business," that I was not trying to embarrass her but it was my first "visit" to such a place, and I was simply curious.

She told me her husband was in New Guinea fighting the Japs, she had no money and they had a young daughter she was rearing in his absence, Neither her husband nor her daughter was aware of what she was doing to make ends meet, she said. She had no skills for a regular job and felt this was at least a method of making enough money for their needs. Whether or not this was true, I had no idea but it was what she told me.

Before I departed, I asked what her price would have been, she told me, I paid her and left wishing her well. My friend was not waiting for me. I never saw him again until I was aboard ship. Strangely, for some reason, we never discussed the incident and I cannot remember why. He and I went on many liberties after that but that sort of "visit" never happened again.

I have never forgotten that episode and one Sunday a few years ago, I was teaching a Sunday School class of middle-aged adults. I told them the next Sunday I would tell them of my visit to a "place of ill repute," for them to be sure to be there the next Sunday. Sure enough, all of them were present and seemingly eager to hear my story. From their reaction, they didn't seem to be surprised when I finished. Of course, they asked questions, and it turned out to be a good session.

I don't know what my other shipmates did that day in Perth or in Fremantle, but that is my story. After the war, I never saw my friend again. From the list of names we have recorded, he is not listed and perhaps that is for the better.

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