DISPATCHES FROM CRUTCH – NEW ORLEANS

A Dab of Ink…more years ago than I like to remember, I was shipping out of New Orleans, this was the “old” New Orleans when it was cool. It was still very Frenchy/European for a city in the USA. The Port along the river was bustling with activity, ships coming, ships going, all over the world, still the old Merchant Marine Waterfront, this was pre-container days so all cargo was what they called break bulK/crated, drummed, pallets of sacks etc. quite colorful if you had the eyes to see the beauty in all that freight from all over the world…and it was dark down there.

Down on Decatur Street along the river which is now touristy and cleaned up…that street at the time I am writing was a tough place …line of Gin Joints, you could enter one that was very Greek with all that culture, the next German, Latino, Polish, always a South Seas themed bar with a big mural behind the bar with hula girls n Palm Trees…so smoke filled the viz. was nearly zero and the air quality much worse!!…This street was so rough in nite hours that they use to issue you a knife before you got down on that strand….I spent many nites down there myself …it was like a Seaman`s Disney Epcot, I could go from Latino Bars to German to you name it and hoist a few drinks and soak in the culture as Mariners from the ships were from all over and tended to congregate in their comparable countries bars and there was always the women…exotic women haha and plenty of drink, yes an enjoyable time if you kept a good lookout for “bad weather” haha. I had of course been in the Navee years before and never got tatted…I use to many times go with my shipmates we all would get drunk and they would come back with anchors, dolphins, dragons, hula girls, dolphins, propellers, you name it, usually something that identified with their Navy Rate/job, but not me, me I would be clean as whistle as far as Tats went. 

Now back to Merchant Marine days and to Port of New Orleans long after “Uncle Sam`s Canoe Club”. I was down there one nite on Decatur…steaming from bar to bar …country to country…I myself was shipping out the next day on a year-long contract…I steamed alone as I did most times and after taking on more than a little rum…passed a small tattoo joint …I walked in, not a soul in there but the Inker….he said want ya want? I said an anchor on my left hand between thumb n forefinger..he showed me some anchors he had drawn and I said hand me an ink pen, he did and I drew what I thought I wanted, what was/is called an “old fashioned anchor”. I said how much he said 10 bucks I said get after it…and it is still there haha. I decided that nite to have a Tat to remind me where I had decided to spend my life = which was at sea…and having been on & VERY fond of the China/Asian Coast I knew that the anchor placed there on that left hand by my thumb would let other Mariners know that was my preferred hangout and it was till this day, I married a Chinese girl and anchored up over there for 14 yrs…yes no regrets there (I suffer bad from “Yellow Fever” as they use to call fellows like me haha ) …now back to that wonderful $10 dollar Tattoo…well here it is…I have ask a friend who is good at skinning to once I go down or near down, to skin it off and tan it and give to my daughter to keep in the family…I don`t want to lose that $10 investment just because old Crutch decides to go bellyup haha.