In the year of 1963 I was a 15 year old kid spending my summers in Wading River ,Long Island ,with my big family of German/Italian decent. The events we shared every summer were later forged into stories,that evolved into memories. Here is one that i will share with you.
The town of Riverhead is on the western border of long Islands east end. Calverton is an area within the township and was home to Grumman Aircraft Corporation. Grumman manufactured defense products for the U.S. Government on a parcel of 6000 acres from 1953 to 1995. A large part of the property was surrounded by security gates and a chain link fence topped with barbed wire. Most of the employed were drawn from the local communities. To show their appreciation, every summer ,the Corporation would have a BBQ/Clambake open to employees and their families. Some of our neighbors worked for Grumman and spoke of how this was the “go to” event of the summer. It was NOT open to the general public,however motivated individuals can always find a way.
The tried and true options for illegal entry were limited. Option number one was to scale the 8 foot ,barbed wire topped fence. Option number two was going under the fence through a culvert ,partially filled with stagnant water and spiders. If successful, you then had to trek through thick woods full of ticks and mosquitoes. Not my choice. The final option was in the trunk of a car. Needless to say ,I arrived via trunk. Passes were only checked at the security gate, so once inside you were free to move about. The cars were parked on a large grassy field. Upon exiting the trunk , we mingled with the rest of the crowd. I could barely contain myself as my head swiveled back and forth taking in the spoils before me.
Large 55 gallon drums cut in half,were used as BBQ grills. Thick smoke, mixed with the smell of grilling burgers and franks filled the air. Bags of clams were opened and shucked at lightening speed. Corn on the cob,soda, and ice cream were there for the asking. But the big draw for this 15 yr. old was free beer. Not beer in cans, but big heady beer out of a keg . Pure Nectar. The drinking age was 18 but I was 6 foot 3 ,220 pounds and looked every bit of legal. No one checked me for proof so I became the beer conduit for my underage friends.
At some point all that beer consumption adds up and needs to be eliminated. I was about 3 pints in and needed to empty the tank before going for a refill ,so to speak. Off in the distance was a long snaking line of men making their way behind a plywood wall. It was about 24 feet long and 8 feet tall. Six sheets of plywood stood on end. Men made their way in one end and exited the other. I got on line and slowly advanced forward . Boy did I have to GO.
Finally around the corner and before me was a 20 foot trench filled with leaves. It had a wobbly 2×4 rail poised on the edge. As men relieved themselves and left ,they were replaced by the next wave. I made my way to the rail and was concentrating on the task at hand,when the guy to my right started to wavier. It was obvious he had way to much to drink. He was holding the rail with one hand and was trying to pull down his fly with the outer. Jerking on his zipper seemed to alter his balance. In slow motion I saw his knees buckle and he slid under the rail. OH MY GOD Into the pee pit he went. I stared in awe as he thrashed about and tried to crawl out covered with urine soaked leaves. People all around ignored his cries for assistance and his out stretched hands. No one wanted to touch him including me.
I took off mid half zipped. Once outside, I found my friends and told them what transpired. I got “yeah right” and “your full of it”. No on believed me until I said ,”Look”. There was Leaf Man exiting the latrine. This poor guy was a mess. Party time was over for him.
In retrospect, I know there is a deep lesson here in regards to helping your fellow man, but at 15 it’s “Don’t fall in the latrine”