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"Crossing the Line"

In the Navy, a sailor that has not crossed the equator is known as a Pollywog. A sailor having made the crossing is referred to as a Shellback. When a ship crosses the equator it is naval tradition for the Shellbacks to initiate those Pollywogs in a "Crossing the Line" ceremony. Those Pollywogs, often referred to as "Slimey Pollywogs" during the crossing, must endure a variety of initiation events. The specific initiation events vary to some degree from ship to ship and crossing to crossing, dependent largely on the creativity of those Shellbacks on board and the materials on hand!

As a ship crosses the equator, Pollywogs must pay their respect to King Neptune, God of the Seas. The Shellbacks, having been across before and now "Sons of Neptune" (or perhaps something worse from the Pollywog's point of view) play the roles of a variety of characters such as King Neptune, Neptune's Queen, Davey Jones, the Royal Baby, the Royal Cop, and various other "needed" characters of the moment!

The USS BUSH crossed the equator on two occassions, once in December 1943 and again in August 1944. The photos and images displayed are from both crossings.

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December 12, 1943 Crossing:
Telegram arrives from Davey Jones - December 11, 1943. King Neptunus Rex, Ruler of the Raging Main, and his Royal Court are due to arrive the next day. 1943 Telegram From Davey Jones
King Neptune's Orders -1943 December 11, 1943 - Special orders received from King Neptune for a few select men! Note the uniform requirements, "... jock straps, sheepskin coats and furlined helmets. Glasses will be furnished."
King Neptune (Chief Bosun's Mate Louis J. Perrot) and the Royal Queen (Chief Quartermaster Frank Hubbard) aboard the USS BUSH. King Neptune with his Queen
Dr. Johnson kisses the Royal Baby Lt. George Johnson, Medical Officer and Pollywog, must kiss the belly of the Royal Baby (W. E. Danekas, Watertender 1st Class).

August 12, 1944 Crossing:

Davey Jones (William C. Attebury, Quartermaster 1st Class), with the eye patch and whiskers, delivers subpoenas to all Pollywogs. Davey Jones Summons Pollywogs
Pollywog Trial In Process A Pollywog (Ensign Ed Havey, that's his bald spot in the bottom of the picture) goes before the judges. His counsel is Chief Watertender Charles Youtsey*, on the far left. The two seated judges from left to right are Chief Torpedoman's Mate Ray Mayhugh and Edward J. Szczech*, Electrician's Mate 1st Class.
Pollywog bath time, a mixture of water, oil, paint, and some etc...! Pollywog Bath Time
Pollywog Gauntlet Time Running the gauntlet!

Pollywogs are soaked and paddled as they move through the gauntlet. Paddlers along on the right, from front to back are Curtis Stenson-WT3c, McCall-BM3c, Ira McElyea-FC3c, and Jack Randall-CMM.

The Royal Barber (Chief Pharmacist's Mate Clarence Homer) snips the hair of Pollywog Ensign Ed Havey, much to the delight of the Royal Baby and Radarman 3rd Class John Sandt (a Shellback). Royal Barber
Pollywog MarinesRoyal Barber Six husky Pollywog Marines were being transported aboard BUSH on this day. The Shellback Master-At-Arms ordered them to fall in with the mess cooks and stand inspection. Reports indicate these marines could sing, too!
A Seaman 2nd Class, and Pollywog, appears in girl's silk skivvies. Pollywog Girl
Pollywog Girl Pollywog Ensign Robert Buchanan gets a laugh as the Royal Cop, J. M. Cross*-FC2c, orders Ensign Buchanan to kiss the girl!
From left to right: The ship's Commanding Officer, Rollin E. Westholm, confers with Davey Jones (William Attebury-Quartermaster 1st Class), King Neptune (Frank B. Schwarzin*-Chief Electrician's Mate), and the Queen (John Duryea-Chief Yeoman). Captain's Review
Pollywog Haircuts New Pollywog haircuts!

The front six from left to right are: Frank J. Loftus-S2c, M. J. Tucker-S2c, Albert D. Brody*-PhM1c, Clarence J. Cechal*-F2c, R. J. Treater-S2c, and Leonard DeVitis-F2c.

Brand New Shellbacks!

Below are Ensign Ed Havey (flat on his back) and Ensign Sam Matich (with a smile).
Judging by the expressions, Pollywog perceptions about the whole ceremony were mixed.

New Shellback Ensign Ed Havey New Shellback Ensign Sam Matich

*Lost with sinking April 6, 1945.

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