Tuesday, November 11

The Damned Lice

By Ship's Carpenter Jas. Apple

I remember once the damned lice came inside our walls and spread from landsman to the lieutenant without discrimination. I myself having hair well past my rigging belt was thought by most, prime to git corrupted by this pestilence, but as it turned out my head and neck was as fallow as a coal hodd. 

I always kept my quew as best I might by keeping it brushed and platted. And we had a tar named Hobbs who had grew up around the docks and had worked on whalers, and who's hair was almost as long as mine, who had a fair amount of whale oil that he used on his head and said would he share with me if I would plat his hair while on blockade and of course did. 

One of the fellows as I recall was told that if he put creosote on his hair thinking it would keep the lice from nesting. And after his watch he slathered more than a bit on his hair and when he fell asleep he soon woke up and set to thrashing about and got all hung up in his hammuck, saying his head and neck was on fire. He ran all about bellow decks and found some leather fire buckets with sea water in them and poured that on his head and when that ran down his back, it scalded him like a hog and he set to screaming waking up most and we all had a good laugh at his expense.

I had fashioned a few pairs of pincers from some brass wire that I had and that helped with the bugs and eggs on some but ultimately many chose to shave the head for some relief and as a result the Doctor had many a Jack and Joe on the sick and injured list with sunburn and blisters.

And so is life at sea


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