Mama Always Said There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat

15 01 2014

It was September 14, 1974, and I had just wrapped up my last full work week stationed at Johnston Island before returning home. The next day, I would be taken off rotation-meaning; I would be relieved of any official duties for my final five days on the island. I had been working the mid-watch (midnight to 8 a.m.) and had just gotten to bed. It was now mid-morning and I was sound asleep. My room was at the end of the hall next door to the game room. At the opposite end, but on the same side of the hall, was Johnny Milhonick’s room. Johnny, better known as “Greaser” because of his love for 50’s and 60’s rock and roll, was an olive-skinned, jet black-haired New Yorker who had spent approximately $3,500 on stereo equipment for his room. Imagine, if you will, how much stereo you could get through Navy Exchange (military discount) in 1973. He really had a nice set-up.

Greaser on the left. A really nice guy. RIP

Greaser on the left. A really nice guy. RIP


Anyway, Johnny was one of several sitting around the card table in the game room playing poker. Not only was Greaser a fan of oldies rock and roll, he was also into some pretty hard stuff, such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest-more of a screaming annoyance than music. Heavy metal is more accurately characterized as noise with a guitar accompaniment. On this particular day he was playing something particularly hard and loud-loud enough to wake me up. Now, in 1974, I was a heavy sleeper. Ty Pennington and his crew from Extreme Home Makeover could have built a house around me while I slept and never woke me up. But a screaming Ozzie Osborne did manage to wake me up on that day.


I got up from my bed and went into the hall to see what, if anything, could be done about this screaming, bat-eating mis-creation. When I saw who was at the table, I knew it would be futile to ask them to turn the music down so I didn’t even bother. I returned to my room and sat on the side of the bed wondering what my next step should be. As I sat there, I noticed the table lamp by my bedside and decided I could survive the next few nights without it. So, I cut the plug off and twisted the wires together.


At this point, I feel compelled to point out two things: 1) I no longer do unsafe things like this and, 2) don’t try this at home.


I pushed the plug into the receptacle in my room causing the breaker to trip. This power failure extended all the way down the hall but only on my side. Naturally, that reached down to Greaser’s room and I could hear the music s-l-o-w-l-y d—i—e—i—n—-g. It was great! There in the privacy of my room, I had control.


Greaser jumped up from the table and ran down the hall to his room. Soon, everyone had left the table and joined him in trying to find the problem. I will point out that Greaser was an electronics technician so it didn’t occur to him that loud music would cause the breaker to fail. Finally, someone in the group suggested checking the breaker. They ran to the electrical room and sure enough, the breaker had failed.


They reset the music, cranked up the volume and returned to their game. I let them get back into the game and did it again. And then a third time. By then, they had decided that for some unknown reason loud music was causing the breaker to fail. So, they turned the volume down and I was able to get back to sleep. Never had another problem after that. As mama used to say, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”




2 responses

15 01 2014
Jackie Garner

this is such a funny story love it… love it…. love it!!!!!

15 01 2014
Bill Taylor

Thanks, Lil Brat. You’ll always be Lolli to me. Hey to Larry.

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