CROSSING THE LINE CEREMONY: JUNE 27TH 1957
Serving aboard the USS Hyman as a Machinist’s Mate assigned to the forward engine room in 1957, I was one of the many hapless “pollywogs” to be subjected to the severe punishment that was executed by Neptunus Rex’s Trusty Shellbacks.
The morning of the much dreaded day for us unfortunate pollywogs began at dawn on June 27th, 1957, just three days after my twentieth birthday. In my terrified mind, I suspected that Neptunus Rex may have planned the degrading initiation as my belated birthday gift.
All pollywogs were rounded up, told to remove everything but their skivies, and lined up on the starboard side from the quarterdeck forward. The victims in the line of anxious pollywogs were forced to their hands and knees and “spanked” with 3 foot long sections of fire hose as they crawled past a long line of trusty shellbacks. The shellbacks laughed hysterically as they slapped pollywog butts with the fire hose sections, which had been soaked in salt water over night to help make them “sting” a little more.
Unfortunately, crawling on our hands and knees down the starboard side to the fantail while being lashed with salt-soaked hoses did not afford the shellbacks sufficient pleasure, so we were then forced to crawl through a long tunnel filled with garbage. The garbage had been stored in anticipation of the coming degradation, and trusty shellbacks were on hand to shove our heads into the garbage as we crawled through the tunnel.
At the end of the tunnel, we were greeted by more shellbacks who gleefully forced us to kiss Neptune’s “baby’s” belly. Neptune’s baby was a 6’2” 300 pound individual with grease smeared all over his belly, and who suspiciously resembled one of the BT’s who, strangely enough, just happened to be a Trusty Shellback.
The humiliation of us pollywogs was still not complete, however. With greasy faces from the baby’s belly, we were then unceremoniously thrown into a huge open tank filled with water and floating garbage. Crazed shellbacks held us under the garbage-laced water until we admitted that we were indeed, “lowly pollywogs, unfit for sailing upon the open seas ruled by Neptunus Rex. “
Finally, after admitting to being inferior, lowlife pollywogs, we were then granted the title of “Trusty Shellback.”
The certificate awarded to the ex-pollywogs read as follow:
IMPERIVM NEPTVNI REGIS