The Canadian Navy wasted no time before accepting my application. My father listened to the radio in the evenings and I had listened to his summaries of Hitler's speeches, with the noise of Hitler's raving and rantings and the crowds cheering in the background. There was no doubt in my mind that war was coming. As my first attempt to take part in it, I applied to the Canadian Airforce to join as a pilot, but they brushed me off telling me to apply when I had attained a university degree.
There were a lot of glorious movies of the United States Navy at the time that really impressed me. From them I had learned to sing"Anchors Aweigh" and "All the Nice Girls Love A Sailor," so I decided that would be a good place to fight a war and I applied to join. I received a reply telling me it would take five years to become an American citizen. I hadn't realized this was required, so it changed my mind and I had applied to The Canadian Navy.
The Navy sent me a ticket for a trip on the CPR to Regina. From there I was sent to HMCS Naden in Esquimalt, B.C. to be sworn in. I thought I had finally escaped the world of religion, but found this was not the case when a tough sounding Master-at-arms said whot's your religion? I replied that I was brought up in the Norwegian Lutheran Church, but I… He interrupted, "Yousey or Arsey? I said, "What?" He said, "you're Yousey." Then he wrote, "UC." I said, "Sounds better than Arsey." He said,"Don't get smart with me boy."
On my first Sunday in the Navy I found there was no way to escape the pressure of other people's religion. I had to fall in with all the other Youseys for a church parade.
Many years later when I served in aircraft carriers I simulated a rebellion of sorts by falling in for church services on the flight deck with the "Arseys." There I learned my Hail Mary's by osmosis and I used to wonder where she fit in the Roman Catholic hierarchy of God.
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