Shellback Initiation...Crossing the Equator

Uss Bennington CVS-20
Photographed: July, 1968

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This is me in the foreground, taken to prove I was there! Though I don't have a picture of it, toward the end of the initiation process, there were wooden coffins set up with 6 to 8 inches of foul smelling liquid garbage in them. The pollywog was instructed to lay on their back in the garbage. It was possible to hold you head up to keep the liquid away from your face. The shellback would close the lid shutting out all of the light. Then the lid would open, and the pollywog would be ordered to roll over, face down. Of course you would hold your head up out of the liquid. The shellback would then ask a question, like "Where are you from?" When you opened your mouth to answer, he would push your head down into the liquid, giving you a mouth full!