Dad’s Navy Past: finding out what happened

One of my Federal coworkers has helped get me off the dime recently by giving me the information on how to get my Dad’s Navy service records. He’s a Veteran himself; he should know.

Navy cronies of Kenelm WinslowMy sister Karen kick-started the project this Spring by giving me a batch of photos and my Dad’s service medals in an intricately inlaid wooden puzzle box with a little stamp on the inside cover revealing that it was “Made in Occupied Japan.”

Service pins, an ID bracelet, honorable discharge pin, dog tags, bits of official paperwork, plus a small collection of various streetcar tokens from the cities he traveled to during the days when the Key System still ran down Sacramento Avenue, down University Avenue, and out to meet the Bay ferries. Here’s one that says Pacific Gas and Electric, and it sure looks like a streetcar token; a token from Council Bluffs and Omaha street car lines,  one from Lincoln, one of the old tokens from San Francisco MUNI. Tarnish in the cracks; maybe its dirt; they seem like they aren’t silver. Here’s a souvenir coin from Mardis Gras in New Orleans, it says Vince Vance and his Valiants Fan Club, and gives a telephone number. The emblem looks kind of like a mythical beast wearing sunglasses, but it is dated 1973, a later mythos. My Dad’s treasures, or a small representation of some of them.

There’s a tiny ID bracelet in the box with “Winslow” scratched into the sterling on the front side and our old LAndscape 6-0678 phone number stamped into the back; it was probably Marguerite’s when she was a baby. We kids and Mom were his real treasures, from everything we knew of his love.

Nanette Burket and Kenelm Winslow, circa 1949

Mom and Dad at a wedding, early days

In the days when submariners strolled the deep looking for enemy battleships, Dad collected streetcar tokens during shore leave. He was an only child, someone who grew up knowing how to interact as well as how to be alone; all about exploring on your own. He liked learning about new things. Mom said that his assigned duty was as a submariner in sonar, that his home port was New London. That is almost everything I know. I wonder what else he did in those days for fun besides going out on blind dates… he and Mom  passed many of their courtship dates at places like the Buena Vista, the Gold Spike, and the Japanese Tea Garden. Or so my unreliable sources tell me…

There’s some photos of a destroyer (the USS Meredith, DD-890). Rufus says that it may have played cat-and-mouse games with Dad’s sub in the Atlantic when they were learning their maneuvers off of Rhode Island.

Sure looks like an image of Fort Mason

Somewhere in Ferry-Land

All I know about is what Mom told me, which means almost less than nothing. She met Dad on a blind date while he was still in the Navy. She married him during the end of that era. She was engaged to be married to _someone else_ when they met, too busy to learn much about the military career of the man who declared he wanted to marry her on their first date.

My Dad had a dream about living on a houseboat, perhaps this is where it spawned

Waiting in the Lock, exchanging pleasantries

She was the world’s most Unreliable Narrator, but could spin a good story. He would never talk about his military service. I assumed it was because he didn’t want to remember anything painful or difficult. He still had his old uniform.  These pictures are so not painful that I am left wondering what the whole story was. I will never know, but I can at least send for the records.

Kenelm Winslow and his sailor mates posing for a photo

The face at the window indicates there were more sailors waiting to get out, perhaps?

[Dad is in the back row, big smile, big glasses ].  I also have been given the negatives, which is pretty exciting. I can print them up at Looking Glass. I’ve been itching to get back in the darkroom.

Sailors horsing around, 1940s

If you're going to work hard, then you'd better play hard...

This weekend I am getting reacquainted with my still-pretty-new scanner and sending away for the data. I am also learning some photo enhancement tricks for faded images in Photoshop. Bear with me.

Thanks Traci, for giving me the scanner.

Thanks Karen, for giving me the photos, the negatives, the souvenirs, and the encouragement. These are great photos, even if I don’t know who the heck most of the people are.

Naval cadets horsing around in a baseball field, garbage can lid hat

More than one way to be cool, sailor man!

Thanks Joseph, for getting me further motivated by showing me where to send away for the data.

Your memory is still a blessing, Dad. We miss you.

Kenelm Fayette Winslow holding another sailor's hat?

What about the hat?

Kenelm Fayette Winslow in his Navy Blues, sometime in the 40s
Dad in his Navy Blues, sometime during the 1940s

One response to “Dad’s Navy Past: finding out what happened

  1. The ferry picture is without a doubt in Washington State, and I think the ferry docks in Seattle. See the lettered dealio in the middle of the image? It says “Black Ball Line” – which was the precursor to the Washington State Ferries. I think the lock picture is also Seattle, the Crittenden Locks on the Lake Union Canal – there are very few locks that small in the US, particularly anywhere near where I think he served

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