There’s an old photo album tucked away in a box in my parents’ basement. Before last summer, when I dug it out on a trip home, I’d seen it once before. My grandfather had shown it to me one day when I was working on a college history project.
I’d never known my grandpa to be anything other than this big, warm man with a great laugh and a bad tattoo on his forearm. I think it was a mermaid. In that photo album, however, he was young and slim and I’m pretty sure this photo here–he’s in the middle, cig dangling–can also be found in the dictionary next to the definition of “cocksure.” My Grandpa White, cool as shit.
That picture was shot somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, probably in 1945, and probably on some speck of an island they’d occasionally stop at for a drink. Or so the story goes.
His ship was the U.S.S. Typhon. I went for more on it recently, and it’s harder than you’d think. There’s a Star Trek Typhon, too. It eats a lot of the Google. But it was almost certainly 1945 because in the photo album is a copy of a “Subpeona!”–his presence requested before the Court of the Golden Dragon, which would meet at 1400 on October 20, 1945. That’s when they’d cross the equator and all sorts of jackassery would ensue.
There are photos of sailors milling about the deck with paddles, and in oversized diapers fashioned out of … sheets? Probably sheets.
Eventually, the Typhon, my grandpa’s Typhon, arrived in Nagasaki. This was after the bomb. There are photos of him and his crew mates about the rubble, and posing with kids on the street. It’s sad as hell, really.
He talked about it that one day, to help me with that one homework assignment, and that’s all I ever knew of it. I wish I knew more. What he saw he carried with him quietly and bravely–as so many did, and so many do today.
So here’s to him, and my dad, and my uncles and cousins and all who have served. Thanks.