When sailors cross the equator for the first time they have to undergo an initiation ceremony. That was true years ago, and I still believe it holds true today. This first item is a summons that my father received in January of 1921 as his ship. the USS Arkansas approached the Southern Hemisphere:
This is the certificate that he earned by the ceremony:
The date on this is January 24, 1921. If you go to this web site you can find an identical certificate from the USS Oklahoma. And there you can easily read the inscription. Here it is:
The dates are both the same, but the longitudes are a little different. They must have been part of a flotilla. My father crossed at 80˚56′, while the Oklahoma crossed at 81˚1’45”. They were 5’45” apart. A degree at the equator is 60 miles, so they were about 5 3/4 miles apart. Notice that the documents are identical except for the entries, and Seaman Holmquists’s is much neater.
The ceremony pretty much consists of the seamen being stripped almost naked and having garbage poured over them. Somewhere I have a photo of my father and the other initiates sitting on the deck covered with some sort of putrescence.
The other day when I showed you the ID papers of my old man when he came back to the states, I neglected to show you the reverse of the card. It explains what the ID was for.