Captain John W. Thomason, Jr., USMC
Scribners, NY, 1927. Good.
First Edition. No dust jacket. Faded gold lettering & dark blue drawing
on blue boards. Spine frayed at top & partially detached (but repaired)
along one side. A half-inch repaired tear to cloth near top of spine. Some
dog-eared pages. Book otherwise sound, so still a decent reading copy.
A collection of short stories set in WWI France, Nicaragua, Guantanamo
& on various ships of the fleet, among other stations. Profusely illustrated
by drawings from author. Thomason has long been recognised as the finest
artist and one of the finest fiction writers to come out of the Marine
Corps. He served in WWI with the Marine Brigade, 2nd Division AEF, as second
in command of 49th Co., 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. He participated in
all major engagements of the Brigade and was awarded the Navy Cross for
assaulting a machine-gun nest at Soissons. After the war he served in Peking,
in Latin America, & at Pearl Harbor, to name a few of his postings,
and commanded a detachment of Marines aboard the USS Rochester.
He died in 1944, having achieved the rank of Colonel and lasting fame as
author and artist.
EXCERPT: It was the narrow-eyed bartender
who whispered to the bar-boy; that volatile Jamaican scuttled back to the
arbor, and immediately thereafter a wave of Marines rolled silently through
the door at the flank of the long bar and waded in. The fo'c's'le of the
Norwegian finished their aquavit and rose to a man, baring huge
freckled arms. People crowded in from the dance-hall; odds & ends from
the harbor bore a hand, and the girls took refuge behind the bar, squealing.
In an instant, the place was a perfect hell.... Bottles sung through the
air; chairs & tables crashed into ruin; a stool flung by a huge Marine
ripped down the array of bottles behind the bar, from an enfilading direction,
smashed the big mirror, and caught Billy Bean, entering from the dance-hall
to investigate, square on the bows. Billie Bean, a robust person, roared
like a lion, caught up a bung-starter and came into action with complete
impartiality. The astute bartender, from under the bar, sent his Jamaica
boy for the police, the naval patrol, and the Special Service Squadron,
if the last happened to be available. All at once there were uniforms in
the street doors; a lieutenant with a black arm-band blew piercingly on
a whistle. And the gunnery-sergeant of the guard, who had climbed on the
bar for observation, thought fast; he made a dive at the switch behind
the bar and pulled the lighting. In the breath of comparative silence that
followed the sudden dark, a great voice spoke: 'All right, M'rines--get
clear--hold everything--patrol's aboard--back to the ship, all hands!'