But here is the rub, men who had been in the service a little longer than us had collars that were a fantastic lighter blue. Those with wonderful azure blues were obviously old sea dogs whose collars had arrived like this with years of washing. But not a bit of, they had learned from previous entrants that you had to wash and scrub if you wanted that superb look.
I personally didnít bother with all this washing business but on my first leave I told my mum about all this scrubbing stuff. She said Iíll give them a gentle bleach if you like. So she went ahead did me collars were things of such beauty that I was taken aback.
Now the sailorís collar was something every girl, women or granny wanted to touch. It is reputed, from way back, that it makes every wish come true. So I found out at the Saturday dance it was girls that came over and asked you to dance, not the other way round. The young devils wanted to get their hands on your collar! Another thing about the collar, if you were taking a girl home she had to stand quite close to you, put her arms around you and hold your collar down while you put on your overcoat.
Many years later my wife and I were at a US Navy open day in Long Beach near where we lived in Cal. My wife spoke to the young US sailor who was showing us around his ship. She asked him if he knew what the three white stripes on his collar represented. Yes maím, he replied, they commemorate Admiral Nelsonís three victories in the great sea battles of Copenhagen, the Nile and of course Trafalgar. Smart kid we thought, heíll go far in that manís navy.