April is National Poetry Month! Let’s enjoy some USCG poems

Today’s post was written by me, M. Marie Maxwell, an Archives Specialist at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Although normally I work in Textual Processing, I am engaged in a short detail with the Archives’ Innovation Hub in the same Washington, DC location.

It’s April.

Spring is springing. Birds are singing. Poetry is in the air and it’s National Poetry Month.

Although I haven’t been inspired to pen any verses, I did take time out from checking meta data of citizen scans to appreciate some rhymes. So some of you are wondering how’s my detail in the Innovation Hub going? Well it isn’t too different from my microfilm lab days and the few digital descriptions I got into the catalog while in Textual Processing. There are other functions to the Innovation Hub, but description is the part is more familiar to me. And when you describe sometimes you notice things about the series, or records you’re describing and I picked up on the New Years Day poetry that is found in the RG 26 United States Coast Guard January Logbooks of Ships and Shore Installations, 1948-1972 (NAID
559642
).

Check out this one from the USCG Blackhaw January 1970:

Page 2 from USCG Blackhaw, 01/01/1970-01/31/1970 NAID 100903424

A twas the custom in the past

In writing logs before the mast

I will enter these first few lines

in the grammatical manner of simple rhymes

From starboard side to this marginal wharf, I report

In the Republic of the Philippines, Sangley Point the port,

Standard mooring lines doubled from fore to aft

With standing lights brightly enhancing our craft,

Commanding Officer, Coast Guard District Fourteen

I maintaining our opscan ’til RVN ops convene

The sailing status of Bravo-twenty-four has been acclaimed

Condition yoke has been set and Defian IV maintained

Sections one, two, and four are our liberty now

Only section three stays this side of the brow

The Commanding Officer remains absent this day,

Either at home or the Filipinas Hotel he will stay

The end of the watch will soon be here

So in closing I pass this watch to you

EH Ryan, an officer too

Not Robert Frost, but it is a nice little creative writing exercise. The log entry poetry from the USCG Blackhaw was much better in a previous year. Take a look at the January 1, 1968 rhymes:

To Barth ALPHA, U.S. Coast Guard Base

Honolulu we are tied

With Standard mooring lines, each doubled up

secured to our port side.

Filling the role of control, our leader

Here on the scene

Administrative and Operative is

CCGD fourteen.

The first and third sections we have heard

on shore do celebrate

Each in stupor or with uproar

Nineteen sixty eight.

The first is due on January two

at zero seven four five

The third this date of sixty-eight

at zero eight four five

At zero one three zero with silence

coming back

Having found on my final round all secure,

I hit the rack

David W. Bough ENS

It was not limited to the Blackhaw, but a host of other Coast Guard and US Navy craft as well, such as the USCG Gresham (NAID 122165215)and the USCG Ingham (NAID 122166605). However, not every USCG January 1st logbook entry will have a poem. Maybe they forgot or got busy or just weren’t in the mood. Who knows? So should you be poking around the NARA Catalog, looking through USCG Logbooks, keep an eye out for any New Years Day entries.

Or you can help get more entries like this up into the catalog by coming by the Innovation Hub in Washington, DC if you are a local. All you need is a researcher card and the willingness to scan. Please contact innovationhub@nara.gov to get started as a citizen scanner!

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