Trade's boring stories.

Original Poster
THE GREAT SUNSHINE SKYWAY BAIT SHACK BURGLARY OF 1964


As I mentioned in another thread back in the day several of my friends and I, guys were too socially retarded to have girlfriends, would often spend our weekend nights on all night fishing trips at the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Back in thse days the main span was just a two lane bridge and you could walk on on it for about a mile before it started to rise. So the height of the bridge where we fished wasn’t much more that a typical fishing pier.
Also back in those days there wasn’t much traffic at all in the wee hours of the morning. Nothing like it is today. One night there was only three of us out there. Ken Trotter, Larry Wood, and myself. The other regular, Ken Lillquist wasn’t there. I say that because if he had been this would have never happened. He would have talked us out of it. About 3 or 4 in the morning we had decided to call it quits for the night and while we were loading up my old 1952 Dodge with all our gear Ken and Larry came up to me and Ken says “We’re going to knock this place over tonight” and he motioned towards the little wooden bait shack. That was at that end of the bridge where we were parked.

I didn’t want to do it, in fact I was scared shitless but I wasn’t very assertive back in those days and I was clearly outvoted because both Ken and Larry were all in. And Larry said OK, you stay here and we’ll do it. The car was parked maybe 100 feet from the bait shack. Ken got the tire iron out of the trunk and he and Larry headed for the bait shack. I was so scared I got into the car and layed down on the floor of the back seat. I don’t know what I was thinking. That if the cops came and caught Larry and Ken they would think to walk over and check out the car? Right. Anyway Larry and Ken made several trips back and forth bringing stiff back to the car. A couple of cheap rods and reels and a bunch of fishing tackle.

All the while I was scared shitless that someone was going to drive by and see them and call the cops. But there weren’t any cell phones back then and the nearest place to call would have been at one of the toll booths at either end. Both were miles away.

When Larry and Ken had finished loading up all they were going to take it was my turn to do my part and drive the getaway car.

At this time I would like to take a brief pause to remind anyone reading this that the stature of limitations on burglary in Florida has long since expired with regard to this incident. Just in case you were thinking of turning me in.
However if the Pinellas County Sheriff’s department still has this case open I have no problem with anyone letting them know this so that they can close it.

The Sunshine Skyway has this kind of strange situation with regard to geography.

The northern section of the main span, where we were, lies in Pinellas County. The southern section lies in Manatee County. And in the middle, where the highest part of the bridge is, lies in Hillsboro County. So Hillsboro county gets stuck having to deal with any suicide jumpers that take a header off of the high part.

So here’s what I reasoned. We were in the Pinellas section. And home for us was also in Pinellas county. So the shortest and most obvious route for us to take home was north. So In figured if someone had driven by and reported us, the cops that would be responding would be coming from the Pinellas County side. So I decided to head south towards Manatee County figuring the responding cops would not have jurisdiction there. Pretty darned smart for a 17 year old kid huh? But let me tell you it was one long as drive home to go all the way south off the Skyway, then east to US 41 then up the eastern side of Tampa Bay on US 41 to the Howard Franklin Bridge, and then across Tampa bay to Largo, where we lived. It took a good two extra hours of driving to get home that way and Ken and Larry were complaining all the way. I think I used 2 quarts of oil and most of a tank of gas on that trip.

In the next day or two we split up our ill gotten gains. Most of the bounty consisted of lead sinkers some of which I was still using right up into the late 1980’s.
 

RadishRose

Well-known member
Location
Connecticut USA
I'm glad I finally got caught up. Even tho' your story was about "boys" I can totally relate and it's funny! That's what makes your writing enjoyable for me. You're unpretentious.
 
Original Poster
Coming home from Vietnam.

My DEROS (Date of Estimated Return from Overseas) was 18 Aug. 1971 but when I got my orders it was for 15 August! So I got to leave 3 days early!

We flew out of DaNang AFB at 0500 15 August 1971 on Flying Tiger Airlines Flight M2D6. How do I know that much detail? Is my memory that good? Hell no. I still have a copy of my travel authorization.

Coming over we were over the Pacific mostly at night. But going back it was daylight for a lot of the time. Amazing how you can fly along at 500 miles an hour plus for hours and never see anything but water. One of the nurses had given me a 100 milligram Thorazine tablet to take so I could sleep on the way home. I took it, but didn’t sleep a wink. I didn’t even get drowsy. I was that wired.

We made two stops. The first was at Kadena AFB. remember it was beautiful coming in for the landing. Okinawa is absolutely gorgeous. And site of some of the bloodiest fighting in World War 2. I guess it was as top to refuel. It wasn’t very long.

From there we flew to Hawaii. I don’t know what airport we landed at there. But it was only about a 45 minute stop. It was night so I couldn’t see anything. Could have been Cleveland for all I could tell. Then the last leg of the trip got us to Norton AFB way out in the desert about a 2 hour drive outside of L.A.

There were no welcoming crowds. Nor were there any hippies looking to spit on us and call us baby killers either. Nothing but a long line of taxi cabs waiting to make a buck off of us. It was $15 bucks each to take us into L.A, Airport. That was almost $100 bucks in today’s money. They crammed us in like sardines. I seem to remember that they took 7 of us in one cab. But that would mean 8 with the driver which seems impossible. Maybe it was 7 counting the driver. We got to the LA airport in a couple of hours and I got myself a standby flight to Philadelphia. My wife was staying with her father in Moorestown New Jersey right across the river from Philadelphia.

When I got to the seat that they had assigned me there was a little tiny dog in one of those pet carriers in it, with a little old lady sitting next to it. I told her that I had been assigned the seat that her dog was in and she said “Oh no, I paid $12 extra dollars so that my dog could have this seat.” So I went and found a stewardess, that’s what they called them back then, and told her that there was a dog in my seat. She came forward and informed the lady that the $12 extra bucks that she had paid did not entitle him to a seat, it was just so she could keep him on the floor in front of her. She wasn’t very happy about that, but she moved the little mutt and I got to sit down.
 
Original Poster
The Fat Boy's Program

I was a medic in the Air Force and after I got back from Vietnam I got stationed at Columbus AFB Mississippi, where they immediately assigned me to the emergency room figuring I was used to blood and guts. Little did they know I had been assigned to an internal medicine ward in Vietnam and delt mostly with Malaria and Hepatitis patients. So my aversion to the sight of blood didn't hinder me much. But it wasn't long before they realized that I could not handle the ER so they put me in the Physical Exam section where I did OK because it was mostly paperwork.

When I had about a year left in my enlistment Vietnam was winding down and the Air Force was looking to reduce their numbers. So they came up with the "Weight Control Program" , which quickly became known as "The Fat Boys Program" Let me tell you the Air Force had quite a few fat dudes then because due to the need for as many warm bodies as possible during Vietnam standards of physical fitness had not been enforced at all. So anyway since I was working in the Physical exam section, the Fat Boys Program got assigned to me.

So all the First sergeants on base were supposed to send their fat boys over to us where we would weigh them, measure them, tell them how much they were over Air Force standards and then give them a lecture on how to lose weight. I didn’t give the lectures. I just recoded their heights and weights and made up a chart on each one so we could keep track of their progress.

The idea was if you weren’t making reasonable progress you would be discharged. The only dude I know of that was discharged was this dude named Sergeant Zenos. I don’t remember how much he weighted exactly but it was way over 350 lbs. Dude was so fat you would have had to paint a stripe on him to be able to tell if he was walking or rolling. We couldn’t even weigh him on the regular scales. We had to take him down to the loading dock and weigh him on the freight scales. I’m not kidding, true story.

There was definitely some selective enforcement going on. It was up to your supervisor whether or not you were sent over to have your weight checked. Very few officers and higher grade enlisted people got checked. Older people also had more leeway in the standards. For example in my age group the maximum weight for my height of 6 feet even was 196 lbs. I was weighing in at 185 at that time. 11 lbs under the limit. But as you got older the standards got higher and by the time you were about 40 you could weigh up to 216 lbs at 6 feet. So they had that going for you, plus if you were in good with your supervisor or commanding officer a few extra pounds would get overlooked.

There was also a way around it for muscular dudes. In addition to weight standards there was a body fat maximum. I think it was 22%. But we had no criteria for measuring that. So it came down to eyeballing it. We had one black dude that was sent to us by his First Sergeant that was about 10 lbs over the limit for his height.

But when he took off his shirt he looked like a sack full of door knobs. Dude had muscles on top of his muscles. So I called in Doc Drynan who had been assigned to the program and he took one look at the dude and cleared him under the body fat provision.

Doc Drynan was the one that gave the talk to them about weight control. He had a bit of a belly himself but probably was within the standard, just barely as he had a little leeway due to being in his early 30’s. Besides he was a Major and a physician, so nobody was going to challenge him on his weight. RHIP. (Rank Has It’s Privileges). After Doc Drynan gave the Fat Boys the talk about diet and calories, etc.

After Doc Drynan gave his bit Master Sergeant Duke Ramage would come in and give his talk about making healthy eating choices. Duke Ramage was in charge of the Hospital Mess Hall. He also had a gut on him and was probably pretty close to the limit too, but again RHIP.

It was in the fat boys program that I learned how much dude’s lie about their heights. Most dudes under 6-2 add at least an inch sometimes two. I remember one dude that came in and said he was 6-2, 195. I knew he wasn’t anywhere near that because I was 6 feet even and he was shorter than me. And when I measured and weighed him he was 5-11 and a 1/2 and weighed 213 lbs. I gave him the ½ inch to 6 even but he was still over the limit by 17 lbs, so onto the Fat Boy’s Program he went.
 


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