I hung out at the Greyhound bus depot because I could afford a hamburger there. I was there having coffee when A light skinned black person struck up a conversation with me and after a while said "want to go over to my place and order a pizza?". He would pay. I thought that would be OK and he got up and went into the bathroom and said we would go when he came out. When he was gone a pretty young waitress, who I had talked with before, came up and laid her hand on my arm and whispered "Don't go honey, he's a queer and your not going to like his pizza". Could have knocked me over with a toothpick as that meant he was a real live homosexual person. They had taught us about them in boot camp and some where along the line one of my "more worldly buddies" had told me to watch out for them but this was the first time I had met a real live one. He had told me "if one tries to pick you up, hit them as hard as you can and then knee them in the nuts as it would be OK to do that and the authorities won't bother you". He said he had done that numerous times himself. I was dumb struck as this was big time stuff when your a kid from South Dakota. The man came out of the restroom and I said "no" to him and he left mad, glaring at the waitress's as he headed for the door. I turned towards my waitress and said "I'm kinda new to all of this big city stuff as I'm from small town out in ......" She held her hands up in the air and said "that's OK honey, we know" as she nodded her head towards the other two girls who were watching all of this with much amusement. I slowly sipped my coffee, running everything through my brain, trying to figure it all out. She came over with the coffee pot and as she poured I said "you know he seemed like a real nice guy" and she laughed as she looked at me and again said "that's OK honey, we know, we really do". Trouble was I didn't.
I arrived at the school the next morning and spent the remainder of the day, after I had checked in and got my bunk, shoveling snow because A pretty good snowfall was occurring. When I was a San Diego I had one blue stripe on my shoulder to let the world know that we were recruits, lower than dirt. As we left Boot Camp we had been awarded seaman apprentice rank patches which meant we had graduated and had increased our pay one step, which was still next to nothing. I also got to put a screw above my SA patch which meant I was a Machinist Mate striker and my stripes and screw were red, which meant I was a snipe. I didn't have the slightest idea as to what a snipe was. All I knew was that it was some kinda bird and if anyone ever tried to get me to go snipe hunting I was to hit them as hard ................ In the next 90 days I was taught everything I would ever want to know; steam, water, valves and pumps plus a whole lot more. One of the tidbits we learned was "nothing sucks, not even the Navy" as they were trying to make us learn how pumps work. The poor quality photo is the steam plant control panel of the system we worked on and I would see a few more of those before I got out of the Navy. We were engineers and our stripes were red. Snipes! If you were involved with airplanes you were called "Air-dales" and your stripes were green. So it goes in the Navy. They worked very hard teaching us to be good steam mechanics and the lessons did stick.
Liberty was very good in the Chicago area and about half of the time I went to Milwaukee. In Milwaukee we would take the train or hitchhike and head for the USO as there was always a dance there on the weekend complete with girls, coffee, and cookies. It was from there to the Eagles Ballroom, I believe it was called, as we could usually find someone to get us a bottle to mix with our punch or coke. Chicago trips were more of a cultural thing as I would head for the Museum of Science and Industry as they had a captured German U-Boat there that you could walk through. I probably spent 6 days in that museum and never saw it all. If I went back to Chicago for some reason, my spare time would be spent in that museum again. What a great place. To prove to you that I even had some class I have included a photograph from the World Flower and Garden Show at the McCormick place. I have a couple of rolls of film from that show, as it was impressive.
A High School classmate of mine, Norman, was stationed in Chicago somewhere going to Army drafting school. I would hop the train and end up at the base for the weekend. I would sleep in their barracks and they would obtain a mess pass for me so I could eat. We hung out at their enlisted persons club drinking cheap beer then heading downtown afterwords to frolic as befit youth of our age. It was always a cheap weekend for me, as they all were, because we Machinist Mate apprentices didn't make much money. This last photo is me in Downtown Chicago.