Roach or Rat?

4 10 2011

The common roach...lonlier than the Maytag repairman.

I hate roaches! They’re probably nastier than a maggot on a cow pie. When I was stationed on Sand Island at Johnston atoll in the Pacific, it was impossible for us to keep the roaches out of our rooms…I thought. I tried everything to get rid of them but with guys coming and going on a regular basis it was a losing battle-until I found the secret.


It was the spring of 1973 and I went into the bathroom one morning to get ready for the day. I kept my toothbrush in a plastic toothbrush holder with an air vent hole on each end. As I stood at the sink brushing my teeth, I happened to look down and saw about 10 tiny roaches crawling around on the shelf in front of me. I knew they weren’t there before so where did they come from? I looked inside my toothbrush holder and saw an empty roach egg case. The little boogers were using my toothbrush holder for a roach motel. Well, that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I had to do something.



Later, I got an empty coffee can and made a trap. That night, after everyone had gone to bed, I took my homemade trap into the mess hall where I knew there were several families of mice living. I planned to take the liberty of catching one and releasing him into my room in hopes he would rid me of the roaches. I figured with all the mice living in the mess hall, they wouldn’t miss just one. Plus, that would be one less mouse to contaminate our food supply.


Enter Mighty Mouse!

It wasn’t long after I set my trap that I had a catch, so, I took my new pet back to my room where I let him out of the trap. He

"Here I come to save the day!"

immediately disappeared behind my locker and I would see him from time to time crawling along the floor or peeking from behind my book shelves. I tore up bits of paper and left that, along with Styrofoam peanuts, around for him to take behind my locker where he built a nest. I soon noticed that I was no longer seeing roaches-not a one! For all I knew, he could be climbing up onto my bed at night and sleeping under the covers with me, but because he seemed to eradicate the roaches, I decided he could stay. Since he had eaten or run off his food source, to make sure he didn’t run out on me, I would occasionally bring in a dab of peanut butter on a cracker or a chunk of cheese and leave it on the floor by the locker for him to find.


Eventually, I decided if we were going to be roomies then he should have a name. Not sure how to determine if he was a boy mouse or a girl mouse, I decided he must be a boy because he was such a slob. I would find mouse crap on the floor and on my book shelves behind the books. He seemed to be fond of bananas so I decided to call him Elvis.


"How 'bout a hunka, hunka cheese?"

Thank Ya, Elvis, Thank ya Very Much!

When I went hunting for a mouse to release into my roach-infested room, I had no idea if he would be able to get rid of the roaches. I don’t even know what made me think to try it. What I do know is that for the remainder of my tour on Johnston Island, Elvis and I got along just fine. But the best part was…NO MORE ROACHES!  Perhaps instead of naming my mighty-mouse Elvis, I should have named him Orkin!




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