Tag Archives: Radio Officer

Uplifting Natives

Some of the adventures I had whilst working as a Radio Officer and Purser on various oil tankers didn’t always end like the Cuban Trader. I well remember a much more pleasant trip while working on the S.S IRVINGDALE a small Canadian oil tanker delivering to various oil ports in the Maritime Provinces, but once in a while we sailed off to the former fleshpots of the infamous Pirates of Caribbean.

We were not in search of the gold in treasure ships, but the black gold stored in the smaller oil ports, many of them too small to accommodate the giant oil tankers. Often there were no modern loading facilities, just a couple of flexible pipes from the oil storage tanks into the middle of a small bay, where we dropped anchor and dragged the pipes from the sea bed and connected them to the ship. A quick blast on the ship’s siren signalled the shore crew to open the valves and start filling up the ship.

It was a slow process filling the tanks, but it gave the crew plenty time to relax, enjoy the sunshine and swim in the cool waters of the bay. Usually we were surrounded by native rafts and young boys selling fresh fruit and vegetables while their fathers were clearing away a path through the jungle for more oil pipes. Some of the native boys actually used the scrambling net to climb on board.

I remember one young lad named Pedro who spoke very good English and begged me for some of colourful magazines to take home to his Mom. In the evening the beach was alive with native girls dancing the hula hula and plying the willing crew with native moonshine and jungle juice. Alas I had to stay sober and make sure all the seamen were accounted for the next morning.

Pedro, the young lad, insisted I meet his mother, a jovial woman of about fifty. Being the mother of about ten kids, she no longer had the energy to join the dancing girls on the beach but had a whale of time checking out the advertisements in the magazine, especially a full page color picture of a slender young blonde modelling the latest brassiere. “You can bring back for my mother?” questioned Pedro, grinning. He tore out the page and handed it to me.

I thought about Pedro’s request when we returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since we would be returning to the island again I decided to check out what was available in the local lingerie store. When I showed the assistants the now tattered pictures of the blonde modelling the uplifting brassiere, the gals behind the counter started sniggering.

“It’s for a native woman in Colombia,” I explained, gesturing with my hands about the size she would require. When they were finally convinced I was for real and not some wandering pervert, they decided a Double D Cup would be the size and as an added favour, they gift wrapped it with a pink ribbon.

Back in Cartagena, Pedro was the first one to scramble aboard. His eyes were as big as saucers, when I showed him the package. He thanked me again and again and begged me to accompany him on his bamboo raft back to shore. I remember the crew lining the deck rail watching me hanging on for dear life as the little raft bobbed up and down until it finally scraped onto the beach.

Pedro lived in the middle of the village where most of the huts were made from bamboo poles and banana leaves on the roof. His mother was cooking some kind of stew in a large iron pot on an ancient wood burning stove when we entered. For a few seconds she stared at me holding out the colourful gift wrapped present, then began to wail with excitement, finally hugging me to her monstrous bosom. Suddenly her large family of youngsters came running into the hut from every direction and joined in the celebrations. At first she was reluctant to tear open the pretty package and carefully undid the wrapping, finally holding up the pink silky bra like some movie star clutching an Oscar. Her family cheered and laughed as their mother coaxed her enormous breasts into the cups, and strapped on the bra. Minutes later she marched outside where a crowd of bare breasted native women had gathered to join in the parade through the village.

Pedro looked at me and grinned. “Gracias, Senor Sparks,” he said. “My mother is mucho pleased. What they call it in America?”
“It’s called a Cowboy Bra…”
“A cowboy bra,” repeated Pedro. “Why cowboy bra?”
“Because, my dear friend, it rounds ‘em up and heads ‘em out.”


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