Drawing is a copy of a cartoon from ship's newspaper, The Port Hole
Press September 2, 1945.
Shortly after LST 832 was launched in Pittsburgh PA, it was moved to a city
pier on the Allegheny River for a short time. Here many visitors toured
the ship and several left "care" packages. The largest of these "packages"
was an upright piano. It was loaded by crane down through the cargo hatch
onto the tank deck. Guess what?? First, it was in the way on the tank deck
and, secondly it was useless in that busy space. Since it would not fit
through any of the hatches (doorways), Gabby Houser, with help from other
black gang members, completely disassembled the piano, literally key by key
and moved it into the after crew's quarters. Here it was reassembled, welded
to the deck, painted a bright red (a different color each time it was
repainted) and tuned with a home made tuning tool. Harrison Allen our
virtuoso of the keyboard had the joint jumping many times when amateurs were
not playing "chopsticks".
It should be noted here that the war in the Pacific had no liberty ports
while the European engagement had London and after liberation, shore leave
in cities of Italy and France. All we had were islands, worthless for shore
leave. Therefore, all the entertainment sailors had in the Pacific was that
which was created aboard ship.
Each LST that was on the way to the Pacific war zone was given a movie
projector, a movie screen and two reels of recent Hollywood films. Consider
the number of LSTs built (over 1000) and more than half of them in the
Pacific -- wow! that's a lot of Hollywood entertainment. Of course we could
not show movies on deck at sea (blackouts) but in port it was a new movie
every night. This was accomplished by sending our boat crew out each
afternoon to trade our two reels for the movies that night. In the two
years that we were in the Pacific, I don't think our crew saw the same movie
twice. However there was another problem we would run into if the anchorage
we were in was subjected to night air raids -- the movie would stop and we
would go to battle stations with blackout conditions. One night in Okinawa,
when we had several kamikaze raids, our movie which started at dark was
not over till after midnight.