Bored Stiff!

5 03 2011

George and one of his famous pizzas

When you take 25 young men, put them on a small island for a year with no more than their 8 hour shift to work, that leaves 16 hours in the day with nothing to do. Now some of that time-maybe on average, 6 hours-will be spent sleeping. That leaves 10 hours for these young men to find something to do. Now keep in mind that in 1973 there was no internet. There were no laptop or even desktop computers. There were no cell phones. The only television on the island picked up one station which was broadcast by the American Armed Forces Network from nearby Johnston Island. One can only tolerate so much of old Felix the Cat cartoons.

I have three stories of boredom release that I will share. To put all three into a single post would be too much so I will break them up. But this is what happens when young men with time on their hands get bored.

Hammer toss. That’s what my friend Tom and I decided to call the “game “we created one day.

Thought I was kidding? Here's Bill Kennedy at a peanut-popping party.


Each week, while I was stationed on Johnston Island, there was a plane that flew in from Honolulu to bring, among other things, movies for crew entertainment. They would take back the seven from the previous week and drop off a load of new films for the next seven days. These were usually first run films which had just hit the theaters back home. And usually, with few exceptions, they were good, entertaining movies that a bunch of guys could enjoy.

Every evening, following the evening meal, after the galley and mess deck had been cleaned up, we would re-arrange the chairs and, for the evening at least, convert the room to a movie theater. The cook might whip up something special or we would just have popcorn and bug juice (aka Kool Aid). On occasion, George, whom I mentioned in my Survivor Gilligan’s Island post, would make pizza. He must have worked in a pizza restaurant back in New York before the Coast Guard because he sure made a good pizza.

Sand Island, in the foreground, was home for 12 months. Crew lived to the left and birds congregated on the right end of the island.

A good friend of mine was Tom. Tom, as I recall was from Vermont. Today, according to my sources, he is a physician practicing in Nova Scotia. One day following the evening meal, Tom and I were just walking around killing time while waiting for the movie to begin. Someone had left a hammer outside on the ground and I picked it up and just tossed it over to Tom for no reason other than the fact I noticed Tom was not holding a hammer and looked as if he could use one. I guess Tom wasn’t interested in holding a hammer because he tossed it back. It suddenly occurred to both of us that we may be onto something. We both took one step backwards away from each other and I tossed it back to him. When he caught it, we both stepped back another step and he tossed it back. After a while we were about the length of the basketball court apart, tossing that hammer back and forth and trying to catch it by the handle without the claw plunging deep into our empty cranial cavities.

Don't get excited-there's no such thing as a Milton Bradley Tossin Hammer!

We had created a new and mindlessly entertaining game but for some reason it never caught on with Milton Bradley. Hey, it was no more dangerous than that lawn dart game! I guess you just have to use your own hammer and get out in the back yard. Happy tossing!




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