NOVEMBER 29, 1943
NEW YORK, Sunday—The United Seamen's Service has started on a rather interesting venture. They are trying to put a game chest aboard every Merchant Marine vessel. The Liberty Ships, the oil tankers, the transport ships, would each have one of these chests, containing decks of cards, cribbage boards, chess and checker sets, dominoes, puzzles, quiz books and many other entertaining games.
These seamen are aboard ship sometimes for months on end, frequently they make port in out of the way places where they are not even allowed to go ashore. You can well understand that these game chests will be in constant use. They are made more interesting to the men by the fact that the public is providing them. Men with home workshops are being asked to make the chests; men, women and children everywhere are being requested to provide what goes inside them.
It has been suggested that communities all over this country participate in this project. If they want full directions they can write to United Seamen's Service, 437 Market Street, San Francisco, Cal., and get the details. If, by chance, there should be more chests than there are ships at any time, they will be put aboard outgoing vessels with instructions to leave them with soldiers, sailors and marines defending faraway outposts which are rarely in the news.
I think it would be rather thrilling if a village or town put together a chest and then wrote a letter to the men who would finally use it. It should be inside the top so that it would not be lost, and should tell stories about the people who had given or made the enclosed games. The letter might relate how the chest had been packed, who made it, and any little interesting items, such as whether any men from the neighborhood had gone into the Merchant Marine.
Village or town officials could sign the letter. Then, in some distant port or on some long voyage, seamen might occasionally be moved to write a line in return. This could be published in the local paper.
The Merchant Marine is not as glamorous as the Navy or the Coast Guard. It is higher paid but less secure. Without it, this war could not have been fought successfully, and, so, all over the world, there are people today who owe a debt of gratitude to the men of the Merchant Marine.