The Weekend Liberty


-          Or, Cowboy boots, whiskey and Broadway musicals donÕt mix

A while back I wrote a story about the one and only time that I went over the wall when I was a Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. Starring in that sordid saga was a young lady whom I called The Cowgirl from Wyoming. I avoided using her real name to protect the innocent and to avoid embarrassment. My erroneous assumption about her amorous intentions toward me led me to risk going over the wall in the first place. It didnÕt work out too well as you will see if you read that tale.   


My USNA roommate was Dick Williams. The Cowgirl was a sorority sister of DickÕs younger sister Monte from their days at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. She was teaching school and living near Baltimore when we were First Classmen (seniors to the uninitiated), and Dick got in touch with her in the fall of Õ62 at MonteÕs suggestion. I followed along and started dating her through the fall and into the early winter of Õ63.

To add a little perspective, the tale I am about to tell happened before the Over the Wall incident. It was late fall and Dick and I decided to take one of our coveted First Class weekend liberties. If I remember correctly, we were authorized two weekends during First Class year. The Cowgirl invited us to spend the weekend in Owings Mills, Maryland, where she lived, to take in dinner and a stage show, and to see where things took us after that. She arranged a date for Dick and arranged to pick us up at the Academy after Saturday noon meal formation and inspection.

A few bills slipped to a Moke (as we called janitors back then) resulted in the magical appearance of a couple of fifths of bourbon of some indeterminate brand which were stowed in our overnight bags. After Saturday noon inspection we hustled to our room and changed into civvies, which in DickÕs case included a pair of cowboy boots. We grabbed our overnight bags, departed Bancroft Hall and met The Cowgirl and DickÕs date waiting for us outside the First Wing. Mercifully, I canÕt remember DickÕs dateÕs name, so weÕll just call her Ann. We climbed into the car and headed for Baltimore. Dick broke out the bourbon, took a swig and passed it to me. The girls declined to partake. This should have been a warning sign.

We continued to work on the bourbon as the afternoon progressed, and the girls still declined to partake. By the time we entered the restaurant for dinner Dick and I, who have always considered ourselves to be comedians, were only slightly uninhibited in our language and manner and werenÕt too much of an embarrassment to the girls.

After dinner we headed for a local theater where The Cowgirl had gotten tickets to the Rogers and Hammerstein musical ÒCarouselÓ. After a few more hits on the bourbon, we entered the theater for the show. It was a Òtheater in the roundÓ presentation, but thatÕs about all I remember about it. Being the comedians that we were, Dick and I, fortified by the bourbon, spent much of the show making loud and snide comments about the plot, the actors, the scenery and everything else in general. The girlÕs embarrassment meter crept upward.

We left the theater and headed back for the CowgirlÕs apartment, continuing to takes slugs of the liquid loudmouth, and the result wasÉlouder mouths. Of course we thought ourselves to be hilariously funny and laughed uproariously at each other. The girls were more circumspect. When we arrived at the apartment we put some music on, I kicked off my shoes and Dick his cowboy boots, we lowered the lights, sloshed down some more bourbon, and figured it was time for some lovinÕ. Our clumsy advances toward The Cowgirl and Ann resulted in them locking themselves in a bedroom. When they didnÕt come out we decided that the least we could do was drink the rest of the rotgut. And thatÕs the way the rest of the night wentÉthe girls in the bedroom, Dick and I asleep on the couch and floor, and the music playing.

The next morning we awoke with monumental hangovers as The Cowgirl and Ann cooked us some breakfast. Afterwards, we all loaded into her car and she drove us back to Annapolis. As we entered the yard Dick tipped up the remaining bottle of bourbon and finished it, tossing the empty on the backseat floor. We thanked the girls for a wonderful weekend and disappeared into Bancroft Hall. I never did figure out why The Cowgirl continued to see me after that weekend, but we lasted into the winter until the time I went over the wall in pursuit of something that The Cowgirl was never destined to give me. What she did give me can be summed up in this little ditty that was recited to me by my fighter pilot friend MOFAK when I told him the ÒOver the WallÓ story: ÒIÕve got crabs and balls of blue. The crabs donÕt hurt, but the blue balls do.Ó

Dick read this tale and told me that he got rid of those cowboy boots only a couple of years ago. He must have kept them for the memories.

Thus ends one more adventure from Boat School days. How we ever graduated remains a mystery to me.

Semper Fidelis

Dirck Praeger

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