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A Doghouse Tale

578 pages13 hours


Case Devries, a cadet at the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, is earning some beer money by working in Eugene Steins textile warehouse on Saturday afternoons. Rosanne, Eugenes sexy little secretary, picks him up from the academy gate and drops him off each Saturday. This leads to the inevitablea relationship doomed to fail. Or does it? It is, in any case, the upbeat to an adventure that, years later, takes Case and his buddy Brian OMalley from their home away from home, the Seamens Church Instituteotherwise known as the Doghouseto India, aboard a ramshackle rust bucket of a freighter called the SS Flower Power. Aptly named for the era in which this adventure takes place and even more so the termination of the era, the Flower Power meets its final destination at the close of the sixties. The crew manning the good ship Flower Power couldnt be more colorful if they had been handpicked by a madman. They range from the utterly chaotic Captain Peachfuzz to the forty-five-year-old, three-hundred-pound John Aruda, an able-bodied seaman and a flower child who rises to every occasion, including arranging a marriage on the high seas.
And then there is the mysterious container stowed aboard and buried beneath a load of chemical fertilizer that the Flower Power is carrying to India. The wheeling and dealing he has to do to get the container back where it belongs eventually brings Case into contact with Eugene and Rosanne, the two people he least expected to cross paths with ever again.
A Doghouse Tale is the hilarious story of a motley crew sailing a ship held together by baling wire, paint, and a prayer. It touches on the deplorable condition of the US Merchant Marines in the 1960s, when a nation at war pressed old battle wagons such as the Flower Power into service, making those ships the laughingstock of the maritime world. It is also a moving story, showing that when the chips are down, a multicultural crew bands together as one to come to the aid of a shipmate.

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