After several years at sea, expectations were always high with Gator when a seaport was coming into view. A place where the ship could anchor out and liberty sections were announced. Sometimes, Gator would have to man his station so other men in his division could go ‘On the Beach’.
Every seaport had a flavor, remembered by the salty ones. Izmir was known for pushy vendors trying to buy your pants. Odd to everyone on board. Just for the materiel of the wool it seemed. One could not imagine a Turk wearing a pair of Dress Blues. Malta was odd with many tobacco shopswhere Gator bought a clay pipe and some pipe tobacco. Rhodes was only remembered by the absence of the Colossus at the breakwater. There were other images which Gator has decided at this time to put on the back shelf of memory. Villa France, Palma De Majorca. Home port was the best as that was where Gator had a small apartment and civilian clothes.
Decades later, Jack and Greta went to a seaport that was a bit over a hundred miles away from the home ranch.
Big ships coming and going and the big air horns blasting the letter G (dah dit dah dah) with thrilling low bass notes as they hove into view. Gator likes that sound. Akin to the big bass notes at the largest pipe organ in the world, run by air. Similar to the EMI magnets which Gator also enjoys, which astonishes most everyone.
At the local seaport it was the same thing Gator experienced decades ago at sea, but with a complete satisfaction this time. He and Greta were broke when they left the seaport but very pleased at the experience. Breakfast with linen and several courses of souffle and perfectly baked rolls and new forks after every course. Ocean front views from the sumptuous room and a steam bath in the bathroom. Unbelievable water front gardens and gracious servants and hosts. Expensive.
A short walk to the port itself with more things to buy and shops eagerly extending welcomes at their Doors. Glassblowing, exotic ice cream concoctions, carriage rides and fountains akin to Trevi in Rome. A violin shop in a large building with expensive instruments and a very erudite and friendly proprietor. Excellent wares and again, money given with satisfaction by Jack and Greta. A very nice instrument built with Spalded wood that Greta was eager to play.
The best part was when Gator began to connect and experience God’s presence among the throngs that were present when a ship bigger than Gator’s Navy ones was leaving port. Close up at the seawalls at the canal as the ship slowly steamed by. Watching the churning aft as it headed out to sea. Sea gulls circling for the anticipated food preparation aftermath. Of course, there is spilled popcorn near the breakwater too.
It was pleasant with the crowds, the best part was that Jack recognized people that were in love. Something about them would prompt Gator to boldly approach these strangers and state: “You love Jesus, don’t you!” One hundred percent response that day. A small sign, even a cross seen or the glimpse of a lingering smile. The upturned cheek line perhaps. Mostly a prompt from the Holy Spirit to tell them. Several older women remarked; “How did you know?!” “It shows” Gator would respond. There was audible delight as they would turn to a companion excitedly and begin smiling as they talked.
It was easy this time, the place was full of believers. They were Just experiencing the joy of spring and a lot of freedom. Faces exposed now and read with joy by Gator. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator