Wanted: Sea stories over breakfast

Bob Clark

An Arkport man is trying to keep the nation’s nautical history alive by gathering naval veterans together for some coffee and story-telling.

Bob Tripp, a World War II Navy veteran, is organizing the Old Salts Breakfast Club to get veterans together to tell their tales of the sea.

“I served in the Navy during World War II and I served on three ships,” he said. "Everybody in the Navy has little stories they like to tell. Something happens to them or happens to their ship.

“The Navy is a little different than the Army because you’re confined to a ship for a long time,” Tripp said. “”You live alongside 1,300 guys and you become friends.”

Those bonds, Tripp added, can make sailors closer friends than the other branches, which leads to a large number of successful reunions and interest from veterans in keeping their history alive.

Although many people read naval history books for “old salt” stories, Tripp said, those books are usually written by historians or flag officers, and not by the men who make up most of the crews.

“I read this book by some admirals telling what it was like,” he said. “But these admirals don’t see what goes on down in the engine rooms, in the electrical shops.”

While the idea for a monthly get-together for navy veterans isn’t a new one for the Hornell area, it has been several years since a similar group has been founded, Tripp said.

“We had one of these before,” he said, adding the Coachlight Steakhouse used to play host before the members lost interest about 10 years ago.

The idea resurfaced after discussions with other veterans, including one with a Pennsylvania veteran over a similar breakfast club — but much larger.

“They have hundreds of people,” he said, adding the breakfast is held in a meeting hall that will seat 2,000.

Tripp said the group is open to any sailor from any time, and World War II, Korea, Vietnam and modern sailors alike can come out and swap stories from their time on board the nation’s warships.

Tripp said there are about 40 veterans with whom he is in contact.

The first breakfast is planned for 8 a.m. July 15 at JC’s Cafe on Canisteo Street in Hornell. For more information, Tripp can be reached at (607) 295-7753.

The Evening Tribune