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Non Fiction

Buck Rogers Sings Allouette




Joe Sulfarro







I was on my way to stand the 8 to 12 helmsman watch on the bridge. And as usual I was running close I had only minutes to spare and I was 2 decks down and the bridge was on the  on the 04 level which was 6 levels above me. So of course I was running through the passageway,  pretty much flat out, when it happened .


An officer in whites stepped out of his cabin into the passageway.  I crashed into him without even slowing down. We ended up in a heap on the deck with me slightly on top of him. I got up trying not to step on him any more . I helped him up and handed him his hat which had been smashed under my knee. He tried to straighten it and put it on but it wouldn’t regain its shape .


His face was beet red, there was the slightest trickle of blood in the corner of his mouth and with his crumpled hat in his hand. He said, “What’s your name sailor?”  Each word punctuated with a finger poke to my chest.


I don’t know what I was thinking but I answered him with the same chest poking maneuver  “Buck Rogers Sir!” And with that I took off running to my watch station.  Salem being a heavy Cruiser had a crew of 1500 Officers and men. We were three days from port and I was lucky not to run across him again.


On the fourth day we were in our homeport of Ville Franche Sur Mer. A lovely little bay on the French Riviera which from the sea could be seen to rise up the mountainside in what looked like terraces. Each terrace was in fact a local street which we sailors named after the decks of a ship the lowest level at the sea side was the 01 then up to the 02 and so on up to 06 level which was the road that went to Nice or Cannes.


The 01 had some nice restaurants where the occasional tourist was seen but not often because this was a Navy town and it tended to get a bit wild at times .The 02 level was lined with bars where the Ladies of the evening “worked”.


I  had Liberty, went ashore early and cruised around town for awhile. And ended up in my favorite place on the 02 level, Queenies, where my pal Artie and I were indulging in our favorite indoor pastime of drinking and generally making fools of ourselves. We had managed to organize a group of our mates into a rather boisterous song fest. Every thing was rolling along smoothly when a bit of a hush fell over the crowd, this usually happened when  an officer entered.


I had my back to the door when  suddenly somebody spoke softly in my ear.


"Hi Buck! How's it going?"  Slowly I turned and sure enough it was Lieutenant "chest poker".


Well he turned out to be a pretty nice guy we had a few drinks and he even knew the French lyrics to Allouette.



JOE SULFARRO shares...

BIO:  "I'm a  retired soccer coach and musician in the twilight of a mediocre career."