Posted by: SJS | June 2, 2011

the sailor’s cap

As a small boy, the possession that I prized the most was the authentic white sailor’s cap that my father gave me.  Knowing that he had worn it while serving on a PT boat gave me a connection with him that formed an unbreakable bond.  Even though it was several sizes too large for me, that was not was not a problem. 

The sailor’s cap had to be on my head whether I was playing with toy soldiers in the basement or running up and down the driveways behind our rowhouse in the Olney section of Philadelphia or even playing baseball at the local park.   Getting the cap away from me to wash it was no easy task for my poor mother.

Red in a Philly park

Red Stahley in Philadelphia 1944

On visits to my grandparents, the cap was the only piece of apparel that I insisted on bringing.  My grandmother would often comment that if I needed to get up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom, I had to wear the cap.  Why that story evoked laughter from other adults was a mystery beyond my understanding.  “Didn’t the PT sailors wear their caps to the bathroom?” I asked with all the earnestness that a four-year-old could muster.

Whether it was worn with a dress uniform on leave or with work clothes while cleaning the boat or sitting atop a sailor’s head while he was operating a deck weapon, the white cap became an enduring symbol of one who served in the US Navy.  As a child, I prized that white cap more than any toy or book I ever owned.


  1. That is such a wonderful memory Stephen! What a special gift your father gave you!

    • Cyndy,

      I really loved that cap and I wish I knew what happened to it (maybe I just wore it out). Thanks for your continued support. I’m so glad to have you as a regular reader.


  2. Steve,

    What a special memory between you and your father. Parents never know how something they give to their child will give them deep lasting and special memories for a lifetime.


    • Aneise,

      The smallest things can make the biggest difference. Working on the blog and seeing those photos of my father wearing his cap brought back all those memories which had been stored away inside me like dusty boxes in the back of the attic.

      Thanks for your good words and your continued support.


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