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RE: Big fat guys, garlic and bp

No , for the most part, these guys were a far cry from young and fit.

The guys I am talking about were engine room crew with the job of fireman, the guy who tends the boilers on a steam ship. Once in a while, they would have to get up to check gauges or change a fuel atomization tip if a long term speed change was called for. Otherwise they sat under the fresh air blowers to keep cool, which was most of the time, watching the water level gauge for the boiler .

It was an industrial style health check , so standards were low., but I don't know what was passing. I always used to have high blood pressure all my life, but could just concentrate a bit to slow my heart beat, and I would pass as normal . The government required some fitness, but mostly it was a company doctor deal where you passed if you could work. This was in the Merchant marines, not the military, so no fitness standards were required down at the union hall, which paid for the doctor.

Interestingly for me, after a lifetime of high blood pressure, I now test as normal. I guess the blood pressure claims about oatmeal might be true, I eat a lot of it, one of my favorite boiled grains. I have only the results of the test, not the reasons for the results.

The fireman were notorious for going ashore, having some drinks , rushing back to the ship for their watch below, and then , when they hit that heat, have a heart attack and kick off.

As a deck hand, this was a real inconvenience, because all the rest off the crew had also rushed back to catch the ship, in similar condition, only after untying a super tanker, working the cables and hawsers, we then had to rig a chain fall and work a dead guy up the multiple ladders and turns from the bottom of the engine room, in a stokes litter , those chicken wire stretcher things, with some kind of care. Although I must admit, towards the end of the work, tenderness got a little thin , trying to get the guy around the corners. Thankfully a fresh body doesn't smell, or I would really have some memories. This happened twice when I was a deck hand, thankfully, I only had to pull a body up once.

When you are close to shore, a helicopter can be called to get dead guys back on the land. Otherwise, you have to stuff them in the freezer. Which is never a popular decision with the cooks , which also have to use the freezer, walking around a corpse to pull frozen meat for the meals, until the ship voyage ends, back in America. care

I served in the Merchant marine in an interesting time, sailing some of the last bulk cargo ships, right as container ships came in, and steam went out, along with time ashore measured in days instead of hours. .I didn't like the tankers much beyond the money, and the bulk cargo ships were full of old WWII veterans, tough guys all, with the resulting stories of the old days .
Some of the most interesting observations, for me, were how they would tell me how the nature I was looking at with amazement looked back when they were my age.

Now I have my own story of nature's change. In my younger days, working tankers up to the alaskan pipeline, I used to see the Columbia glacier, a great mountain cliff of ice glowing bright electric blue green in the Alaskan daylight, about ten miles in the distance. Couple of years ago, this now old guy was on a cruise through those same waters, in the same shipping lanes. Glacier has melted back in my lifetime, and is no longer visible.


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