of the advantages of Navy duty is that you sometimes get to visit
those exotic ports which are definitely off the beaten track. I am
thinking about the port of Chin Wang Tao in Manchuria. In 1947, the
city was being threatened by the Communists; Chinese business people
were truly grateful to see a U.S. man-of-war sail into the harbor.
Although the British had a little colony there, it was the Americans
who came with a warship that impressed them.
I discovered an interesting sidelight about British mentality. All
the time the Englishmen had been in Chin Wang Tao manning their Kaolin
coal-mining company, they never developed relations with the Chinese
women. Can you imagine any other nationality who would be so proper
in their relations with the foreigners?
My fateful visit ashore was in the company of Lt. Kinneberg, my engineering
officer. The rank of Lieutenant in the Navy is comparable to the rank
of Captain in the Army or Air Force. Kinneberg and I walked down the
pier, past the officers club and up the little main street of the
We chose the nicest looking bar to go into and that is where I met
the proprietor T.T. Wang. His name is easy to remember because he
gave me a British swagger stick with T.T. Wang engraved in the silver
metal covering the stick. Yes, it is real silver and an elegant souvenir,
which I still have in my sea chest. I learned that the original purpose
of a swagger stick is to carry it walking so you can fend off the
dogs (see swagger stick photo on page 89). Anyway, it is an old British
His was kind of an elegant bar and T.T. Wang suggested a bottle of
champagne for us. He himself brought it to our little round table
which was pretty much in the middle of the room. We were the only
clients, so we had the whole room at our command, and of course the
full attention of T.T. Wang.
When we finished the champagne, Kinneberg asked to pay, but T.T. Wang
would hear nothing of that; the first bottle must be on the house.
Kinneberg said, O.K., I will buy the next one. Out came
the beaming T.T. with another bottle of very tasty champagne.
There was some reason he would not permit us to pay for the second
bottle; it was perhaps one for me and one for Kinneberg, so out came
a third. By this time I couldnt say who paid for that third
bottle. Kinneberg was a much larger man than I and also more thirsty;
he drank almost two-thirds of our three bottles of champagneleaving
more than one full bottle just for myself which I drank very fast.
With all kind of jovial leave-taking, we said farewell to T.T. Wang
and headed down the hill toward our ship. On the way we went into
the officers club just for a look-see, and there was our captain
playing a game of pool. I didnt recall all that happened there,
but it was the talk of the officers wardroom afterwards. I had always
been such a clean-cut ensignno one had ever seen me tipsy before.
Apparently I sat in a big chair overlooking the pool table and I was
commenting on our captains pool shots. I would say, Great
shot, Captain, or What a lousy shot. Then I got
the hiccups. I would say, Good showhiccupCap'n.
I hiccuped all the way back to the ship. When I got to my stateroom
I threw up in the head and felt much better after a while. From then
on I was known as Bubbling Willie.