Who would have thought that signing up to be a seagoing cowboy meant being able to go to the Rose Bowl Parade and to watch the historic Rose Bowl Game of 1947? Our last post left the crew of the S. S. Lindenwood Victory docked in San Pedro, California, the day before New Year’s 1947. Twenty-year-old Harold Hersch described his experience in his diary:
Tues Dec 31 – Awoke to see San Pedro and Los Angeles off bow, docked about 8 AM in San Pedro. Had mail delivery, received shore leave at noon. Went into San Pedro, ate banana splits and saw double feature. Returned to ship, did chores, took train to Los Angeles. Went to show, then tried to walk the streets (11:30 PM). Crowd so dense impossible to walk except with crowd. About 30 deep on sidewalks, all bedlam loose, confetti about inch deep. Went to show about 12:30, finally got back to ship about 4 AM.
Wed Jan 1 – Arose at 6:00 AM, did chores hastily, left for Pasadena at 7:30, arrived at 10:00 just as Rose Parade started. Managed to see above crowd usually. Parade passed by 12 (noon).
Donn (Kesler) and I took a bus to the Rose Bowl. Milled around in the crowd for about 15 minutes, finally bought two $5.50 tickets from scalpers for $7.00 each. Many were selling for $35.00 – $50.00 each. Got kick out of seeing Illinois whitewash UCLA 45-14, after UCLA being top heavy favorites in west.
Harold and Donn had witnessed the first appearance of the University of Illinois in the Rose Bowl. Other cowboys who weren’t able to get tickets had to listen from outside. Jim Sheaffer related to a Heifer International gathering in 1993, “I remember going to the Rose Bowl and being outside of the stadium, and a chap from the University of Illinois ran back a punt a hundred and one yards for a touchdown! I remember that. Very important in my life,” he said, generating laughter throughout the audience.
The crew had a couple more days in CA. Cowboys, like foreman George Weybright, took advantage of the opportunity to visit western friends and relatives as far away from port as La Verne. Harold Hersch noted going to lots of movies, as well as to the NBC and CBS studios in Hollywood where they got tickets to four different radio broadcasts, including a quiz show called “What’s Doin’ Ladies?” Quite a colorful beginning to a memorable trip for this young man.
It took nearly three weeks to cross the Pacific Ocean. Harold had bought a short wave radio in New Orleans, and despite the stormy weather they were in, Harold said, “the bosun mate and I strung up an aerial to my radio stretching from fan tail weather deck clear up to the top of the mast. Reception excellent.” With the cowboys’ quarters in the fantail, at the back of the ship, they were able to hear their regular radio programs and news, as well as programs from Australia and other countries. Because of that, Harold noted that he never felt that far away from home.
Heifers didn’t need the attention that horses did on these trips, so the cowboys had plenty of time for entertainment. They played lots of card games, including a Rook tournament. One Monopoly game stretched from 10:00 Sunday night to 6:15 a.m. Tuesday morning, which isn’t as long as it sounds because they had crossed the International Date line, losing the calendar day of Monday, January 13. For one unfortunate cowboy, as reported by Les Messamer, that also meant missing his 21st birthday.
Next post: On to Shanghai
Harold Hersch diary excerpts and Jim Sheaffer comments courtesy of Heifer International.