Friday, September 3, 2021

One of the best sea stories I've ever heard

 I'm going to leave this one up a while. 

        When we crew change in New York, my company often hires a launch service, a small steel passenger boat that acts as a water taxi. At the wheel is the owner, a retired tug captain in his 70's, a well-known Dutchman who was a fixture in New York harbor. 

      He and I get along well. We both worked as Ordinary and Able Seamen on ships, although he did so 40 years before I did, having started as a cabin boy around age 10 in his native Netherlands. 

      We got to talking about ports we liked and disliked. I mentioned my father's deep dislike for Recife, Brazil (he got stabbed there one time), although the captain said he said the worst barfight he ever saw was in Argentina, but it was also deeply satisfying. 

   As I mentioned, the gentleman in question was born and raised in the Netherlands, at the end of WWII. And so he was talking about sitting in a bar with some other Dutchmen from his ship one day in the late 60's, somewhere close to Buenos Aires. The bartender was speaking German, and all the sailors could understand him more or less,  but one of the mates from the ship kept staring with a sour look on his face whenever the bartender was talking. . Sensing trouble, the captain was pretty keyed up as the mate quietly drank and drank and got into a darker mood. 

        Finally, hearing the bartender answering another customer in German, the mate jumped up and spoke loudly.  "Don't talk to him in German. I know you. You're no German. You're Dutch, like us. And you know how I know? I remember you. Yeah, your name is *says his name* and you're from the same town as I am... Not only do I remember you, you son of a whore, I remember you collaborated with the Germans during the occupation!" 

 The mate in question then proceeded to attack the bartender and beat him unconscious, then continued to beat his unconscious ass some more for good measure while everyone watched in shock.

 20 years and halfway across the world was apparently not far enough to start over after the German occupation of the Netherlands ended. As smart sailors know, there is no such thing as fair treatment for foreign sailors on shore leave, so, once the beating appeared to go on too long, the whole crew grabbed the man in question and ran for the ship. And they got back aboard too. 


Judy said...

The Dutch nurserymen in Kansas had nothing nice to say about the occupation either.

Comrade Misfit said...

Neither did a friend of my mothers; the friend was a teenager in Denmark during the occupation.

Will said...

Here's a replacement link for vox popoli: