|The Base - The Brooklyn Army Terminal - Headquarters for MSTS LANT...also known as The New York Port Of Embarkation...alot of G.I.s left from here never to return - WW1, WW2, and the Korean Conflict. For a few weeks before the Official Race, we were "put ashore" to live here in the Fire House, and to row, row, row. Page Up to refer to the photo..."x" marks the spot where the Fire House Quarters were...we slept on cots...nothing fancy. We ate in the Base's cafeteria, or grabbed a free lunch if any ships where in.
Our two boats were moored at Pier 1...Pier 4, 3, and 2 were Troopship, and freighter piers. The "A", and "B" indicate Buildings A, and B...MSTS was in Building B. Years later, the outfit would move to the Bayone Navy Yard in New Jersey. During lunch I'd take one of the boats out by myself, sculling up, and down the slips...like a Gondolier. Though there was a set of davits on the bulkhead between Pier 1, and 2, those were used for Lifeboat Training...they belonged to MSTS's "Training Branch". When MSTSLANT had an Admiral, his Barge was kept moored to Pier 1.
The aerial photo shows the Base as it was during the "Army Days"...when the Army ran the Army Transport Service. In '49 the Army turned all it's Transports, Freighters, etc. over to the Navy - MSTS...later changed to MSC - Military Sealift Command. Fun and games...this happened when the Air Force's Military Air Transport Service - MATS change to the acronym - MAC.
The Army Terminal no longer is owned by the Army...the City took it over...the Post Office using parts of it along with other civilian tennants. The piers are all gone except for one long open pier used for parking, and promenading.
The "Base"...every Brooklyn kid knew about it...though we couldn't get in there, unless we knew someone...like a seaman friend, or relative. On First Avenue you could walk along the sidewalk and drag a stick along the high iron-picket fense, and look down onto the base...it was lower than the street for some reason. Never did I think I'd be living in the Fire House. Anyways, it was a part of my life...this place, and the harbor...all the smells, and sounds familiar since being born. Like a small town kid familiar with the local swimming hole, the harbor with its polluted water, and all it smells was our swimming hole...the entire bay...upper, and lower...East, and North Rivers...Gowanus Canal, and the awful/awful Newtown Creek...would tarnish brass in one day...just the odors.
What this did to shaped a kid living around this is a mystery, but it made some of us impervious to germs...germ proof like. We would swim in a sewer outflow because the water was warm...some fished there...the eels were aplenty. Anyways, messing around rowing in these waters was just about like being at home...there was nothing alien about it.
We had two teams, and from that would come one. We raced against each other...one boat Husband took, the other I took, me coaching both. One boat was heavier than the other...one carvel built, the heavy one diagonal built - essentially double planked adding weight. You couldn't see it, but you could sure feel it. However, a funny thing, it didn't matter which boat I commanded, nor which members made it up, I would always win...it was "the face".
Bloody, bloody, bloody...day after day...from "A" to "D"...inhumane...terrible, terrible.
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