There was one incident at AC/R School in which my primitive artistic ability proved useful. Week Three of the course was devoted to the construction and function of the various valves required in a refrigeration system. These valves were rendered graphically on large pull-down screens suspended above the classroom’s chalkboard. One evening in the middle of the week a small group of us returned to the classroom after hours to study the graphics and discuss the topic. After we had studied for a while, and felt satisfied in our understanding of the material, conversation turned to the Chief Petty Officer who was that week’s instructor.
I am convinced that upon promotion to Chief – the Navy’s equivalent to a senior sergeant in the Army or Marines – instructions are provided on how to be a “hard ass”. And this chief had apparently learned his lessons well. Although small in stature, he was quite authoritative, and had the “small man” attitude; with jutting jaw, piercing eyes, his chief’s hat worn at a jaunty angle, and the ever present cigar between clenched teeth. Although he was quite intimidating, he was also an excellent instructor, and we liked him*. At the same time, he was easy to mimic and caricaturize. And this is just what we were doing when I got an idea.
Without a word I stepped to the chalkboard and started to draw a shoulders-up picture of the Chief, with emphasis on the prior mentioned traits. I managed, somehow, to get it just right, and the guys I was with were delighted. The group decision was to leave it, and to pull down one of the graphics, covering the sketch until class was in session the next morning.
We told no one of what was lurking behind the pull-down, so when the chief turned and raised it to access the chalkboard, the class erupted. Even the normally taciturn instructor smiled, and the drawing remained on the board for the rest of the day.
*On the day when we were to gather for the class photo, we were told to select one or two of the instructors to be in the picture. This Chief was our unanimous first choice.