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Christmas on the Brooklyn: 1900

Christmas on the Brooklyn: 1900

Circa 1900. "U.S.S. Brooklyn wardroom pantry." Note the holiday decorations. The cruiser Brooklyn, commissioned in 1896, was a flagship in the Spanish-American War. Detroit Publishing Co. glass negative. View full size.


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Booze and Taxes

I served with several Filipinos on board the USS Constellation and The USS Forrestal -- used to really tick me off that they received their full pay with no tax deductions. Regarding the alcohol on board American Navy ships, we were given a ration (2 beers) while at sea for being deployed between ports for over 1 month.

Foreign Nationals in US Navy

and, to this day, are the only non-Americans allowed to do so and keep their native citizenship.

Foreign nationals from many different have been able to join the Navy and keep their home country citizenship for a long time (at least the entire 15 years I've been in). One of the very first people I met when checking in the to the PSD down in Yorktown, VA was from Chile. They are however restricted to what rates they can hold and billets they can fill because they generally cannot get a security clearance (and they are precluded from becoming officers unless and until they are US citizens)

What Filipinos had for a while was a unique program for fast-tracking U.S. citizenship, which I believe was a legacy of the post ww2 independence compact (and I also believe this went away in the eighties). There are some programs now, and proposals to expand them, to fast-track citizenship for foreign nationals from any country that have enlisted in the military (in all branches).

Hot Buttered Rum

Regarding drinking on board, I was in the old Royal Canadian Navy, and I'll never forget one cold day while we were docked alongside a US Navy ship in Korea. While we were being piped on deck for our daily dose of hot buttered rum, we heard the PA system next door announcing Cokes and Hershey bars for their sailors. As I recall they were quite envious that we were being given rum and we all had a good laugh about it, while shouting complimentary remarks back and forth.

Just curious...

What Christmas decorations???

Sir Winston

It brings to mind Churchill's alleged comment. "The only traditions of the Royal Navy are rum, sodomy and the lash."


The other big difference between the old US Navy and the modern Navy can be seen beside the mess attendant's elbow - the champagne bottle. In one of the most incredible bits of wrong-headed thinking ever, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels (with the aid of his Assistant Secretary Franklin Roosevelt) propagated General Order 99 which said, "The use or introduction for drinking purposes of alcoholic liquors on board any naval vessel, or within any navy yard or station, is strictly prohibited, and commanding officers will be held directly responsible for the enforcement of this order." Despite the repeal of prohibition as national policy (which ended under Franklin Roosevelt), and despite the fact that most navies of the world - including most notably the Royal Navy and the dominion navies that it spawned such as the Royal Canadian Navy - allow the sale and drinking of alcohol aboard ship (in moderation) this policy is still in place. The gentleman leaning on that cupboard could hold any job in the navy today, including admiral (or even Commander In Chief) but he can't get a legal drink on a ship.

Changing of the Mess Guard

At this time, most "mess boys" were Negro, as seen here. However, after the Philippines were "pacified" in the early 1900s, Filipinos began enlisting in the U.S. Navy, and, to this day, are the only non-Americans allowed to do so and keep their native citizenship. It became traditional for Filipinos to be cooks and mess attendants on U.S. Navy ships. The ship's chief buyer of fresh food is referred to as the "Jack O'The Dust" (an old British term for keeper of the flour) and many of them are Filipino.

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