The Admiral's War Room
"What door?"

This is the story of my father's (WOI's) first encounter with Vice Admiral Calhoun, Commander of Service Forces, Pacific. Admiral Calhoun became a good, if extremely eccentric, friend for the entire time that he and my mother were in Hawaii. This story was recorded by me (WGI) on 13 January 1996. I have done some editing and rearranging, to improve the readability and keep things in sequence. - WGI
WGI:  Tell me about [Vice] Admiral Calhoun.

WOI:  He was an odd sort of a fellow.  Did I ever tell you 
      how I met him?

WGI:  No.

WOI:  We were putting together two BOQs, Bachelor Officer's 
      Quarters - they were wood frame buildings.  They were 
      remodeling them into offices.  And that's when I first 
      met Admiral Calhoun.

      We were putting two of these BOQs together, joining 
      them together with walkways and so on.  I may have had 
      30 men working on the project.  We were just winding up 
      everything, just pretty near ready to leave.

      Admiral Calhoun came in and he said, "Who's the foreman 
      of this crew?"  

      I said, "Well, I am."

      He said, "Come on over here, young man."  He always 
      called me young man. "This bathroom has got two doors 
      into it and this one door is [into] what I will call my 
      War Plans Room. I would suggest that you would nail 
      this door shut!  Put some very *large* nails into it."

      Well, we had a crew of 4 or 5 carpenters standing 
      around waiting for something to do.  And there was a 
      painter priming the new work that we had done in the 
      room.  So I said to the fellows, "Let's not nail the 
      door shut.  Hell, let's just put some plywood paneling 
      on there on both sides."  That's what the rest of the 
      room was, all [plywood] panel.  

      So, a couple of boys jerked the door out, took the 
      casing out.  Another grabbed a couple of 2 by 4s and 
      studded up the hole.  They put some plywood on it, 
      sanded it, and dressed it down.  And the painter would 
      just come along, in the regular course of painting the 
      whole room, he just painted over the door - what used 
      to be the door.  

      Admiral Calhoun came in...

WGI:  This must not have been very long later.

WOI:  Oh!  Just right away!  He brought Captain Eagle with 
      him.  He said, "Captain Eagle, I'm going to put this 
      over here and that over there and this over there.  And 
      that door... that door... " 

      "Uh?  Young man, what happened to my door?!"

      I said, "Sir, you said you weren't going to use it so 
      we just closed it up." 

      He said, "Captain Eagle, I was in here not *ten* 
      minutes ago, and this young man will bear me witness. 
      When I came in here there was a door there!  Now there 
      is a wall!  And it's *painted*!"

Both: <laughter>

WOI:  The painter had just kept priming as he went on, and 
      had just happened to prime the new work.  

      [The Admiral] said, "That's the kind of war effort we 
      need around here!  Boy, oh boy!  It's just stupendous!" 
      he said.  "Stupendous!"

      From then on out, if Admiral Calhoun wanted a nail in 
      the wall to hang up his coat, he'd call me across the 
      harbor to have it done!  
Copyright © 1996 by William G. Innanen. All rights reserved.
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