Neptunus Rex

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.

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6 Responses to Neptunus Rex

  1. Tom says:

    Reading about your dad in the Navy, reminds me of my dad. He served in the Navy during WWII. What you describe is exactly what my dad told me about crossing the equator the first time.

  2. old guy from CA says:

    You need to read Deathship, it’s about what happens when you lose that ID.

  3. Mark Stoffel says:

    From what I understand, you want to get your date with Neptune out of the way while still a youngster. Gathering grey hair and seniority before receiving the summons can be painful indeed…

    • budgra5_wp says:

      Speaking of Neptune (Poseidon in the Greek mythology) just now I’m reading Atlantis: The Antediluvian World by a guy named Iggy Donnelly (Ignatius Loyola Donnelly) around 1880. Poseidon figures in because he was (evidentally) the king of Atlantis before it sank.”Do-do-do-do….do-do-do-do” (Theme from Twilight Zone)

  4. JARED says:

    FOUND A DOCUMENT IN HISTORICAL PAPERS I BOUGHT AT AUCTION… THOUGHT THIS WAS FUNNY AND RELATED TO THIS SITE, ”
    US ASIATIC FLEET NAVAL DISPATCH
    FROM NEPTUNUS REX
    TO USS PITTSBURGH
    23 MARCH 1931
    SHARKS AND SEA SERPENTS PATROLLING THE OUTERMOST WATERS HAVE REPORTED SIGHTING THE PITTSBURGH STEAMING PROUDLY INTO MY DOMAIN WITH THE FLAG OF ONE OF MY MOST DISTINGUISHED SHELLBACKS XXXX WHIPPING AS HER MASTHEAD I ADJURE YOU TO MAINTAIN COURSE AND SPEED UNTIL DAVY JONES ARRIVES WHO EVEN NOW IS HURRYING TO CONVEY GREETINGS AND SALUTATIONS TO MY CONTEMPORARIES AS WELL AS TO INSPECT THE LANDLUBBERS WHO ARE TO APPEAR BEFORE MY ROYAL COURT TOMOROW LET LIGHTS BE SHOWN TO DIRECT THE ROYAL BLACKFISH LET DAVY JONES BE RECEIVED WITH EVERY COURTESY AND ATTENTION. LET SOLEMNITY GUIDE THE GROVELLING LANDLUBBERS WHO WOULD FEIGN ENTER INTO THE ROYAL ORDER OF THE RAGING MAIN.”

    • budgra5_wp says:

      Did you see my post from about a year ago when I posted my Father’s Neptunus Rex certificate that he got on the Arkansas in 1926? It’s a wonderful tradition. They pour garbage and other slop over the initiates. When I was a boy in Gulf (trailer) Park they had what they called the Beachcombers Club, and they had a similar initiation ceremony. Maybe I can find some old documents for that. It was a different world down here in the 50’s.

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