The balance of our boot camp training went swiftly and smoothly. We had liberty every weekend that was usually very uneventful since our apprentice seaman’s pay was only $21 a month minus any allotments and whatever we had charged at the Ship’s Service store for toothpaste, tobacco, etc. Tailor-made cigarettes were twenty cents a pack so most of us made do with roll-your-own Bull Durham (five cents a sack) or, as I did, bought a pipe. (After all these year, I still have the now-cracked yellow-bowl pip that I bought then.)
I usually went on liberty with either Langford or one or both of the Olsen brothers. With little to spend, we sometimes went to the San Diego Zoo, a movie, or for a big evening to the ballroom at the top of Broadway. We had neither the funds or the desire to patronize the red light district even though the price was only two dollars.
Our graduation picture was taken on the 5th of September 1940 and, having become reasonably adept at the tools of a sailor’s trade such as knots, and Naval regulations and tradition, we graduated from boot camp on 20 September 1940.
The afternoon of graduation day was a relaxed time. Our two training CPOs, Nelson and Logan, circulated among us with friendly last words of advice. During training, we had been required to treat them as officers and call them “sir”. When I called Nelson “sir” while he was chatting with me he shook his head with a friendly grin.
“No more ‘sir’ to a CPO, Frieze,” he said. “From now on you only say ‘sir’ to a gold braid and don’t forget to salute the first time each day you see an officer. After that it doesn’t matter or you would wear your arm out. A CPO you just call “chief” and if you don’t know a shipmate’s name just call him ‘Mac’. You are now a full-fledged sailor in Uncle Sam’s Navy.”
After morning chow on the 21st we lashed our hammocks around our seabags and scattered to our duty assignments. Those of us assigned to AMM school on North Island reported to the dock and a motor whaleboat too us across San Diego Bay to the Naval Air Station on the island.