Men, good news.

New_five_dollar_billI have posted earlier about going to Korea back in the fifties, as a very-low ranking enlisted man in the “steerage” compartment of the Gaffey, with bunks stacked 12 high in the compartments. Officers, and those who were accompanied by their families en route to Japan had it much nicer. They had staterooms. Unaccompanied wives, en-route, also had staterooms, and on every trip, a “Queen of the voyage” was elected.

Voting for the queen of the voyage was simple, it cost a dollar per vote…and you could vote as many times as you gave a dollar. There was, on this trip, a sergeant first class, who turned into quite an entrepreneur. He persuaded the wife of a low-ranking enlisted man, a young woman who was traveling unaccompanied to join her husband in Japan, to enter the contest. Then he appointed himself her campaign manager. Once a day he would visit the 3000 soldiers who were traveling in steerage.

“Men, this little girl is all alone, and afraid. I just know it would make her feel better if we could elect her Queen of the voyage.” His visit would prove successful and several would put dollar into the box he was carrying with him.

“Men,” he would say the next day. “I’ve got a friend who is on the in on this…. and he’s keeping count of the votes. Our little girl is close but some Captain’s wife is leading. We need to get her numbers up.” He would collect more money.

“Men,” he said on the third day. “I’ve talked to Suzie, she’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen. She wanted me to tell all of you how thankful she is for your support, even if she doesn’t win. Come on, just a little more.” Again, his box would be filled.

“Men, good news. Suzie says that on the day the ship docks at Yokohama, she will come see us and thank us personally, before she gets off. Come on, we can’t let her down.” More money.

“Men, you won’t believe this. I heard some colonel’s wife . . . the old biddy . . . say ‘The officers have to give more money. We can’t let some pig wife of a low ranking enlisted man be elected.’ And you can’t believe how much money she’s collected for the captain’s wife.”

“WHAT? She called Suzie the pig wife of a low ranking EM?” someone asked.

“Yes. I’m sorry I got you all into this men . . .you have all been so generous . . . but it’s hopeless now. There’s no way we can raise more money than the officers on this ship, and I’m just not going to ask for any more. I’m going to go apologize to Suzie failing her.”

“What do you mean we can’t? There are a lot more of us than there are officers on this ship. Here’s five dollars!”

“Yeah, here’s two dollars. Bless her little heart. To be called a pig? That’s awful.” The sergeant’s money box was filled to overflowing.

The day before the ship docked, the sergeant came down with a big smile. “She won, men. Suzie won!” There were cheers from every compartment in steerage.

When the ship docked at Yokohama, those of us who were going on to Korea gathered on the deck for Suzie to speak to us. “There she is!” someone shouted.

A great roar went up from the men. “Suzie! Come talk to us!” Suzie, obviously stunned by the sudden and unexpected recognition, cried out in alarm and ran. The sergeant who had been her campaign manager also left the ship in Yokohama.

Between Japan and Korea, we made a rough calculation, and we believe that the sergeant must have collected at least $7,000 during the election campaign. We also found out that she won with a grand total of $417, which was ten dollars more than her nearest competitor.

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