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  • Martha Rasche

Possessions Help Tell Our Stories

A copy of Reef Points is among the more intriguing doations I’ve come across at the thrift store where I work. The US. Navy’s official midshipmen’s handbook, the copy I found dates from 1958-59.

A new sailor gets the handbook at induction and never goes wihout it. The first page commands: “Read, remember and live by Reef Points’ advice and wisdom.”

I could tell before opening the book’s yellowed 248 pages that this particular sailor had added to it indispensable items of his own.

Taped inside the front cover I found a small packet’s worth of folded tissue, a sheathed razor blade, a couple of coins and one black and one smaller white button, replacements should he lose one from his uniform. The coins, which I turned over to the nonprofit organization for which I work, were a dime and a Buffalo Nickel.

Inside the back cover, secured with now aged and shiny masking tape, I discovered lengths of black and white thread to use on those buttons or to make quick uniform mends, a cigarette wrapped in foil to protect it, a partially use book of matches and white cotton string. Surely a needle was include at some point, but I didn’t find one.

I have no idea, yet, what wisdom Reef Points imparts, as I got sidetracked imagining the day-to-day life in 1959 of a young midshipman, R. M. Fry of Crew 304, Company 3.



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