September 6, 1966

1,000 Youngsters Have a Ball Aboard Carrier


It was billed as Operation Cool-It by the nations poverty warriors. For 1,000 disadvantaged youngsters who swarmed aboard the carrier USS BENNINGTON here Tuesday, it was more like Operation Joy. The kids had a ball.

The youngsters, all from Los Angeles, roamed the ship at will, ate chow in the mess, took boat trips around the harbor in the carrier's liberty launches and topped it all off in the hanger deck with a concert and dance featuring three rock-and-roll combos and a couple of vocalists. It didn't cost them a cent. The tab was picked up by a generous if somewhat edgy Uncle Sam, whose Office of Economic Opportunity reportedly decided on the idea after the recent Chicago riots, which were triggered by a policeman's routine refusal to allow some slum kids to cool off under the spray of an open fire hydrant.

Tuesday's affair, one of a series of recreational events and sea-oriented excursions that will continue until school starts, was run for the country's Economic and Youth Opportunities Agency by the Lomax Corporation, a non-profit corporation founded by author and television personality Louis Lomax. The Lomax group and the Youth Services Planning Council are jointly conducting the four-week Cool-It program in Los Angeles under a $262,000 federal grant.

As for the BENNINGTON, she may have seen equally hectic peacetime days in her illustrious career, "but none so noisy," said 2nd Class Commissaryman Don Adams, whose musical sensibilities, like the ship's rafters, were shaken up a bit by the Yellow Payges, one of the popular rock-and-roll groups on hand. "It's good for the kids, though," he agreed.

Marie Washington, a pretty chaperone from Pacoima, offered a somewhat more enthusiastic comment above the din. "Oh, I think the whole thing's wonderful," she shouted. "Most of the children are from families who can't afford to bring their kids down here." To which Don Gooden, a former Navy man and now Director of Resources for the Lomax Corporation, added, "these kids will do things in the next few weeks they've never done before." Not only that, he went on, "many of them haven't had chow like this in their whole lives."

Pretty Rossana Almonte, a 10-year-old from Highland Park (the kids' ages ranged from 10 to 18) offered a similar if more laconic judgement. Seated in the mess and eating a hearty lunch of lamb chops, mashed potatoes, corn, peas and strawberry shortcake, the young lady said she thought the excursion was "swell." And the meal? "Oh, it's very good," she ventured, "only the meat's a little hard."

Submitted by: Joe Pires
The above has been retyped from an
article of September 7, 1966


Site Created By: