A New Chief at the Photo Lab

I arrived at Cubi Pt. on December 21, 1957 and was assigned to the Photo Lab in early January, 1958. The Photo Lab was at the top of the hill just before you went down to the road to Subic from topside, across from what was then known as the Club Sawali.

In mid '58 we had a new Chief assigned to the lab (who shall remain nameless here) who we immediately determined to be a real jerk and "strictly Navy". He had decided that he wanted fresh tomatos and had us dig a planter around the perimeter of the quanset hut that was the Photo Lab. Then he had his mommy send him some seed from the states and instructed us to plant them in the beds. Each morning, he had us go out and mulch in the coffee ground from the day before to enrich the soil. Eventually, they would sprout and start to make little tomatos.

In the Lab, we used a chemical called Potassium Permanganate as a tray cleaner. It came in a brown crystal form and was very caustic. We had to wear rubber gloves to handle the stuff and when you were done, you had some residue that looked surprisingly like coffee grounds. When the Chief's tomatoes were just about the size of a baseball and lookin' good, we would mix the Potassium Permanganate residue into the coffee grounds and go mulch his tomatos. In about 48 hours the plants were drooping, and by the next day everything was dead. We did this for about a year and he never did figure out what was happening to his fresh salad.

Another Story About This Same Chief

My best buddy and I went to town one Saturday early morning and wound up at a little restaurant that we did not normally frequent. We had never seen the Chief in town before and were surprised to see him come in around 1200 hrs. We had just finished a bowl of fried rice and were having a cool San Miguel when he came through the door. We didn't like the guy so we decided to have a little fun with him and invited him over for a beer, on us, of course. Well, we set up three beers and before we could finish them, we ordered three more, determined to keep him there and get him drunk. ("Lasing", in Tagalog). He decided he had to return the favor so he ordered three more. At this point, my buddy goes to the head and sticks his finger down his throat and unloads the beer and rice. Next was me. then we keep ordering the San Magoo and making the head calls. About 1700 hrs, the Chief is absolutely on his last legs and we pour him into a jeepny and send him back to the main gate. Then we proceed to have another bowl of rice and then go get our Honey-Ko's and go out for the evening. This was a Saturday and we didn't go back to the base 'till Monday morning. Before liberty call Monday night, the Chief called a couple of the other photogs to the side and advised them not to go to town with my buddy and me as we had an "unbelievable" capacity for booze and it would cost them a fortune trying to keep up with us. And, we never seemed to feel the effects of the good ol' San Miguel. Naturally, we had already told all of the others about the episode, so they played along with the joke. He never did find out about this one either, and never again joined us "on the beach".

Dave Rice

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