It was 1968, and I was just promoted to Chief Mate on the American Robin, also on a run to Vietnam. As Chief Mate
I had to take over the medical duties aboard the ship. I was ill prepared for that job, although I had helped some previous
Chief Mates with that and learned more than in the USPHS course we had at Kings Point.
Miss Alice was also a very
extroverted flaming gay. He was always making passes at crew members he liked, whether or not they were interested in him.
One night at sea, about 5 A.M. he was banging loudly on my door. When I opened it there he stood with blood gushing from his
forehead over his left eye. The wound was open and over his eyebrow. I brought him into my office where I had a filing cabinet
full of medical stuff. I could not stop the flow of blood with compresses or dressings. I had to suture, something I had never
done before by myself. We had some sutures labeled "catgut boilable" and I did not know whether that meant you had
to boil them (I could have put them into a coffee pot) or you could boil them only if you felt like it. I decided to skip
the boiling, and broke open the vial with the suture, throwing sterility to the wind I dug the needle into his eyebrow, as
more blood gushed out into his eye socket. I could not maneuver the needle back out, I did not have a needle holder, so I
used my channel lock pliers. I was able to close the gash over his eyebrow, and with enough gauze pads, I got the bleeding
stopped. During this procedure the Chief Steward came to my office looking for him, and almost passed out when he saw what
was going on.
After things were under control, I asked him how it happened for my accident report and medical log.
He said "I was walking around the rear of the ship (wiggling his rear) and tripped over the spikes that were in the path"(the
bits for the mooring lines). I wondered why he would need to be back there at 5 in the morning, but later found out that his
boy friend, Ovelin, was back there and the over enthusiastic Miss Alice had bit him on his private parts. He responded by
hitting Miss Alice with a marlin spike. I was only thankful that my first suture job was not on Ovelin's privates.