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"Mail Call"
Submitted by Powell Black

Two weeks after Pearl Harbor I joined the Navy as a Yeoman 3rd class. Like so many other guys, by the time I was discharged in December of '45, I had made 1st class Mailman (MaM1/c) My responsibility was to collect the mail from Fleet Post Offices, sort and distribute ship's official mail and to the personnel. Also, to collect outgoing mail from a dozen or more "mail boxes" scattered throughout the ship. And all other postal obligations such a writing money orders, etc.

I considered, as did many of my friends, that it was one of the choice billets. Naturally, I got my mail first, then the captain, then "my buddies" (our quid pro quo gang), then the various divisions. (The captain's orderly stood behind me as I sorted the mail and, as I came across the captain's, I'd just hand it to the orderly. When he felt he had enough for the moment, he would take them to the captain who received quite a bit of personal mail.)

The barber shop was adjacent to my office and a shipfitter cut a mail slot in the bulkhead to facilitate the barbers getting their mail quickly without going through the division mail P0. The galley was across the passageway so, naturally, those guys got their mail soon after the captain.

Deidreich ran the Optical Shop and was the unofficial photographer, so when I took my camera ashore and returned, he developed my film; naturally, he also was one of our buddies.

Arnold Tirsch, SK1/c, was in charge of the food lockers. When the crew was watching movies topside, Arnold would break out a ham or turkey and by the time the movie was over, along with the cooks, bakers and barbers and a few other personal friends, we had our nightly feast in the post office, complete with ice cream or some other dessert.

Back to my mail job. Without a doubt mail was the most popular of all activities; even more than our payday. I cannot recall how many money orders I wrote for my shipmates who sent their pay home to their loved ones after the mail had been distributed.

One of my responsibilities was to collect the mail and take it to the wardroom for the officers to censor it. All off-duty officers were expected to participate. The censor stamp was a small piece of wood about an inch square with a circle on it and words like PASSED BY OFFICIAL NAVAL CENSOR. It also had a small line in its center on which the censors affixed their initials. (No one liked the idea of censorship, although I think most of us knew the reasons for it.) I never knew who censored the officers' mail; since they were "officers and gentlemen," perhaps they censored their own.

I had often wondered how I could get one of the stamps to "censor" my own personal mail. I feel sure many guys wondered the same thing, but they didn't have the opportunity I had. For instance, one day, as I was collecting the censored mail into a large galvanized box the shipfitters had made for me, my hand touched a solid object that was not an envelope. Without hesitating and careful that the officers still in the wardroom didn't know what I was doing, I pushed the item in the box along with the letters. I knew what I had just collected.

Of course, I censored all my mail and that of my buddies. We had an officer (a Lt. Johnson) who was very unpopular with the crew and many really "hated his guts." He simply made life hard for the enlisted men in his division sometimes for what we thought was very "chicken." When we "censored" our mail, we put his initials on the line in the circle . We often talked about it and hoped the chief censor at the Fleet Post Office would like to find out and look into it.

Unfortunately, we never found out, and I never knew which officer lost his stamp. I thought it strange that no one ever asked me about it. What to do with it during inspections? I found a small hole in an overhead beam in which the stamp fit perfectly. I still held my breath when the captain made his weekly inspection wearing his white gloves. He never located it.

Incidentally, the picture of the ship that has been used for many years was taken by me while on a mail run from the local Fleet Post Office. I still have the original in my navy album I have brought to several of the reunions I have attended and which will be on display in San Antonio.

I think it is wonderful what you have been and are doing for us old guys who are still hanging onto their memories and look forward to seeing you next month. Already have my airline tickets and hotel reservations. Can't get any better than that. C U there.

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