My dad was a Navy veteran and my great uncle was a Merchant Mariner during WWII. At the Thanksgivings or Christmas dinner table, Uncle Hack always brought up the fact he wanted my dad to join the Merchant Marines because the money was good. But when my dad went to the induction center and told the sergeant he wanted to join the Marines, the Sergeant proudly announced that he was in the Navy now.
The Navy trained my dad to be a gunner’s mate and stationed him on the troop and supply (“Lliberty”) ships, serving beside the Merchant Marines for over 2 years. Of course, dad would blow his $35 paycheck every month since his home port was Hoboken, N.J. and Uncle Hack blew his money too, losing a Cadillac in a card game which he had purchased with his winnings from another card game. Uncle Hack’s Merchant Marine service to his country was no less important than my dad’s Navy service, he just got paid better.
Uncle Hack Skinner was a Merchant Mariner for almost 35 years (1930s to 1960s) and was a colorful relative who brought stories to my young mind that influenced me to leave home and see the world. His stories and gifts from all over the world would light up my mind. I wish all kids could have someone like my Uncle Hack show up in their lives with a story or two and a wonderful gift from a far away place.
Chuck DeLorme, Lebanon
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