USS Irex SS–482:
Crew's mess in about 1958–59

Joe O'Brien kindly sent this photo of the Irex crew's mess. The camera is pointed toward the aft port quarter. He says the shot was taken in about 1958–59.

[ crew's mess ]

The bulkhead at the left separates the mess from the after battery crew's quarters. There were four tables as shown here. To the left of the picture is another table and then the passageway fore and aft between it and the CRS sink against the starboard bulkhead, and the garbage ejection tube. To the right of this view would be another table and then the galley forward bulkhead separating the mess from the galley. The person taking the picture is standing with his back to the fourth table, behind which was the coffee pot and the passageway forward, past the galley. As you take this passage forward through the hatch into the Control Room, you first pass the radio shack on your left and then the boat's old radar system. To the right of the passage were various control valves and brass pipes diligently polished with jeweler's rouge.

Overhead were the CRS trays to catch the oil and water dripping from the hull valves. If not regularly emptied with their little pet-cocks, the trays would spill their contents onto someone's head or food. Were dead cockroaches floating in the liquid? I don't recall any, but someone may have suggested there were.

The tables had a slippery Formica top, and so during rough weather rubber mats would be laid out to keep things from sliding around. On the table is the typical white glass coffee cup, optionally with some “pink lady” borrowed from the supply of torpedo fuel.

The table seats were benches on tracks in which were stored potatoes, such as are being peeled here. After a couple weeks at sea, they began to rot and to stink, and what were left had to be jettisoned. In the old days or on coastal boats it seems the crew would sleep on these benches, but fortunately, on newer or larger boats, that was unnecessary.

On the table next to the cup rests a cylindrical aluminum  butt kit”. They were normally attached to bulkheads throughout the boat. At the upper left corner of the photo may be the juke box controller. I installed the juke box in about 1957 in the below deck storeroom just behind the photographer. After some heated discussion, we decided to charge ten cents for five plays, I believe it was, so that we had the money to buy more records when in port.

The white hats suggest the boat was in port when the picture was taken, in which case the second class quartermaster is probably taking a break from his below decks watch.

Can anyone supply any of the names here?

Glenn Haelsen believes the person peeling potatoes was his father, William Sumner Haelsen, who told his son that while he hated the job of peeling potatoes, he certainly enjoyed himself whenever we had seafood to eat. Bill went on to do electrical and supervisory work for Electric Boat/General Dynamics until his retirement. He died in November 2000. The person standing behind him may be Tom Pohl, but another opinion is that it is John P. O'Connor, the EM from Washington Heights, NY. Seated opposite him, from right to left are ... Nelly, ... Smith and McGowan TM2, a reservist from Brooklyn and ex-cop there. He was in charge of the deck force.

Corrections and additions here would be much appreciated.

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