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History history n. A record or narrative description of past events and times.

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Old 06-27-2012, 07:58 PM
Merchant Seaman Male Merchant Seaman is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 673
Default Money on the back wall and war memorials

I plan a longer post about the history of this bar and itís history, and one more on The Oakland Army Base
Iíve seen War memorials all over the world, Guam Saipan, China, Japan Europe, Washington D.C. even the one in St. Petersburg (AKA Leningrad AKS Stalingrad) for ďThe Great Patriotic War,Ē and in one way or another I was moved by them, all but none Iíve seen are quite so eloquent as the back wall of an old saloon in Oakland California
In Oakland California in 1880, so person salvaged the timbers from a derelict whaling ship at the foot of Webster Street, and a few yards away built a structure that for three years was a bunkhouse for men working the nearby oyster beds. Then in 1883 a young man named Jonny Heinold purchased the building for 100$ and with the help of a friend, who was ships carpenter, renovated the bunkhouse into the saloon that still stands, in much of itís original form, to this day.
On the 8TH of December 1941, the U.S. Army formally opened The Oakland Army Base itís had many names through the years, but itís most commonly known as The Oakland Army Base.
For an Army Base this one would seem strange to many, few barracks, and the most notable feature would be the docks, so in many ways it resembled a Navy Base more than an Army Base.
The base may have looked like a Navy Base, but in itís 58 year history, few if any Military ships ever put in at itís docks, indeed few government owned ships did either, and for the most part the government owned ships that did had civilian crews.
One group of Merchant Ships that put in at The Oakland Army Base between the years 1941 and 1965 were converted passenger liners (not to be confused with cruise ships) passenger liners converted into troop ships.
Iím not sure if itís still true today, but in Vietnam and before U.S. Soldiers were not allowed to carry U.S. greenbacks into war zones, so the Military issued ďscriptĒ, which of course could be converted back into U.S. dollars upon return Stateside.
Contrary to the thinking of many, if not all, people who serve, the Army Brass is not stupid, and they knew that upon return to the U.S. most of the service men and women would want to enjoy life, and that enjoyment would involve a fair amount of drinking, and other forms of revelry.
So to try and keep this to a minimum it was usually a few days before Military folks could exchange their script for dollars.
But as Smart as the Brass may be, the Enlisted folk are smarter, so many would write their names on some money, perhaps a 1 or 2 dollar bill in ww2, maybe a five during Korea, a five or a ten in the early days of Vietnam, and give it to Jonny Heinold, who would pin it up on the back wall behind his bar, so that upon their return, they would simply have to walk over to Jonny Heinoldís First and Last Chance Saloon, retrieve their money, and enjoy the saloonís hospitality, or perhaps one of the many women of negotiable virtue that inhabit Oaklandís waterfront.
So why is some of that money still there? You already know the answer to that, but itís worth stating for the record.
They donít all come home.
Theyíre made sacred not because they were superheroís or so type of ďRamboĒ but because they werenít, for the most part they average people, who when asked answered a call to do and see things no person should ever have to, and did extraordinary things.
In the end all they wanted was to do their duty and come home have a few beers with their comrades, and then go on with their lives, make their way in this world as best they could, for the people who have money left on the back wall of Heinoldís they never got that chance, they gave all they had and then some.
Iíll leave to those wiser and better educated than me to debate just or unjust wars, politics, or such. Iíll leave to artistic types to decide what a ďproper memorial looks like.
For this blue collar bum, when Iím in Oakland, and I get in there often enough, Iíll always stop by Jonny Heinoldís Saloon, where Iíll drink my Bourbon neat, and always lift a glass to the wall behind the bar, in honor of those, who came from farms, factories, schools mines, mills or whathave you, answered a call and in so doing became extraordinary.
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