Bill Owens' Website!
Here are a few of my Favorite Sea Stories! These are all true but are "enhanced" to protect the guilty and to make them more believable! I hope you like them as much as I do! Remember, I was there!
The Barge and The Hurricane!
Picture this: It was 1947 in Key West, FL during hurricane season. The Hurricane was headed right for Key West! Hurricane warnings were issued by the US Navy to secure all vessels and all buildings on the base. My old friend, Billy G. and I were assigned to secure the School Barge which was located at the piers at the Navy Base. We spent the whole day securing the barge. We had five lines fore and aft, and five lines amidships, and lines running to the adjacent pier. Our orders were to stay aboard the barge overnight. BUT!!! We did such a great job of securing the barge we were confident that the barge was going no where! We decided to go ashore and visit some friends! *AHEM!* We "borrowed" a friend's scooter (unbeknownst to him) and rode to another friend's house with trees blowing over, electrical wires sparking in the puddles and no one outside, but us! We stayed with our friends for two days and when the hurricane was gone, we returned to the base. Our friends saw us and asked," Where the hell have you been?" We said, "We are going to tell them we were on the barge!" They said, "Don't tell them THAT!! The barge sunk!" And That's the TRUTH! (PS The scooter was left out during the hurricane and never ran again!)
Billy and the Goat!
Once upon a time I had an invitation from a Key West Cab Driver to go to the Cuban Club. It was a benefit with a raffle. One of the prizes was a goat! I bought a ticket and I won the GOAT! I had a little too much to drink that night. The Cuban Cab Driver took my goat and me back to the base. Going through the gate, a young Marine Private wanted to stop me, and the Sergeant said, "Let him alone, that's Shorty!" I tied the goat up behind the barracks. He was there one day. I went to Cousin Tony's Italian Restaurant on Duval Street. I told Cousin Tony I won a goat. He asked me, "What did you do with it?" I told him that I had it tied up on the base. Cousin Tony asked me if I wanted to sell it. I said, "YES!" I have a feeling that those delicious meatballs of Cousin Tony's were made of FRESH goat meat! And That's the TRUTH!
Alan and the Frog!
Once upon a time, my good friend Alan (who was married) and I (who was not married) went out on the town in Key West, FL. We hit most of the bars on Duval Street and were out till the wee hours of the morning! When Alan went home he was feeling sick. His wife, Edith was angry! Alan went into the bathroom and threw up! When he came out, Edith had some words for him! Alan said, "Please don't holler at me, I just puked a frog!" What really happened was that a tree frog had gotten into his toilet. And That's the TRUTH!
Mosquitoes Eat Sailors Alive!
Once upon a time, my good friend Billy G. and I spent a fun-filled week-end in Miami. We had hitchhiked to Miami from Key West. It was 1948, and there was not much on the Florida Keys in those days! When it was time to return to the Base in Key West, we had to hitchhike back. A man picked us up and drove us about 40 miles down the Keys and then he dropped us off. We still had about 40 more miles to go to get back to the base. It was dark and humid. The mosquitoes were ravenous. They were merciless! They were vicious! Every bit of exposed skin was fair game to these marauders! There was hardly any traffic! We saw the headlights of a car in the distance. My good (?) friend, Billy suggested that I lay down on the middle of the road hoping that the car would stop for us! I declined! And That's the TRUTH!
Battle of the Bilge Can!
Picture this! It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday in Key West, FL. My good friend, Alan and I were going fishing. We got into a small boat with a 5 HP motor and headed for Bay Keys. Edith had made us sandwiches. We were about three miles out and dropped our anchor and commenced fishing. We got a little hungry. Just before getting the sandwiches, I thought I would fill up the gas tank. Two large drops of gasoline landed on the paper bag. After filling the tank, I got us each a sandwich. It's amazing how such a bit of gasoline could totally permeate those sandwiches! We were so hungry, we ate them anyway. After fishing all day we had a good haul of fish and headed back to Key West. On the way back, a Key West storm came up with high winds and rain! Water was filling the boat! We had a nice big bailing can and with all my expertise at bailing, I dropped the can into the water. Of course, that did not stop the water from coming into the boat! Using our Navy ingenuity, we stripped down and used our all of our clothes, including underwear, to soak up the water and wring it out! We were running out of gasoline and the closest point of land was Sigsbee Park. We pulled into Sigsbee Park with an audience of several men and women applauding our nudity! Thankfully, they gave us some more gasoline. We were struggling to wriggle into our wet underwear as the audience laughed and guffawed. So help me God!
When Harry (Truman) met Billy!
A long time ago, our then President, Harry S. Truman, came to the Little White House which was located on the Navy Base in Key West. He had a habit of taking walks with his Secret Service Men around the base. Around noon, he wandered over to the enlisted men's Mess Hall. President Truman came inside and sat down at one of the tables. He talked to the service men sitting at that table for about fifteen minutes. I just happened to be one of the lucky ones seated at that table! He asked us how the food was and how we liked Navy life. Of course, we all said it was just great! This was another of the highlights of my Navy career. And that's the Truth!
Living in Hemmingway's House
in Key West!
Once upon a time, in 1952, my good friend Stan Hodes, who owned the Gate Bar in Key West, rented the Hemmingway House. At that time, all of Hemmingway's furniture and trophies were stored somewhere in Key West. The house was barren and run down, and the swimming pool was a mess with NO water in it. Cats prowled everywhere and were on their own. We moved in with some old furniture and a couple of beds. We lived in the downstairs portion only. Occasionally, we went upstairs to look around. We were there two months when the city decided to refurbish the home and use it as a tourist attraction. It took a lot of time and money to fix up the house. Then they had to find all of the furniture and trophies that were stored all over Key West. Now, I have to pay to go in! It looks and smells a lot better than when I lived there. So help me God!
Me and Marilyn Monroe!
I bet you can not imagine Marilyn Monroe and me together! Well, we have been together between the covers of LIFE Magazine since June of 1962! She was on the front cover of LIFE getting out of a swimming pool. She was wearing very little and was looking very sexy! *AHEM* I, on the other hand, was in the middle of LIFE magazine pictured in a helicopter searching for submarines! I was fully clothed in my flight suit, hardhat and flight deck shoes. This came about because LIFE magazine came aboard the USS Yorktown CVS10 to do an article about the US Navy. My Commanding Officer sent them to see me. They wanted to fly with me, and take pictures. They must have taken 50 pictures but only used 2 of them. One was of me, and one was of the helicopter in a hover, lowering the Sonar ball. I was not allowed to take pay for what I did for them, but they took me ashore for three days in Tokyo. I had a GREAT time!!! And that's the truth!