Memories of The Wife of A Yorktown Sailor

By Lorena R. Farrar

In August 1955, my soon-to-be husband, Ted W. Farrar, was unexpectedly transferred from the Air Traffic Control School at the U. S. Naval Air Station in Olathe, KS (my hometown) to the USS Yorktown CVA-10, which was in dry dock in Bremerton, WA. On arrival, he questioned why he was being sent to an aircraft carrier, and was promptly informed that he had better be a baseball pitcher! It seems they they were involved in the Washington state amateur baseball tournament, and they needed a pitcher! Fortunately, even though he had never pitched baseball anywhere since joining the Navy, he was a pitcher. And so, since they were in the tournament, they would not let him have leave to come marry me; so after the tournament was over, (the Yorktown team took third place), I caught a train out of Kansas City and spent 2 days and 1 night traveling to WA, and we were married in Bremerton on September 19, 1955.

To say the least, our wedding was not too traditional. We were married by the base Chaplain in the base Chapel. The team coach, Lt. Woody Preshaw, was best man, and his wife was my matron of honor. Also, of course, those attending the wedding were some 20 sailors and 1 Marine – the baseball team.

One month later, in late October, 1955, the ship went out to sea for about six weeks on trial runs before embarking on a six-month Far East tour. When the ship returned from their “shakedown cruise,” they docked in Alameda, CA. So of course, this was our next home. By far the most memorable part of being docked in Alameda took place in January, 1956. They had “Wives Day” aboard the ship, and the wives were allowed to go to the men’s work stations with them.

We sailed early that morning and went some 50 miles out to sea. They launched and landed planes, had gunnery practice (shot down a target), and in general carried on a not necessarily normal single day’s routine. My most memorable highlight was going under the Golden Gate Bridge as we headed out to sea. I had been over it, but never under it and as I stood on the deck looking up, I kept thinking, “it’s not going to make it!” But of course it did. What an amazing sight!

Then, as we began to get into the open seas, the wives were allowed to accompany their husbands to their work stations. Ted’s work station was in a nice dark room with only green lights shining on stat boards, and they sat me in a chair against the wall. There was just one problem. The chair was missing one of the metal tips on one leg; so as the ship rocked with the waves, the chair slid forward; when the ship rocked back, the chair slid backward. I very quickly opted for the open deck instead of that dark room. (I think I may have run over the Captain as he was coming up the ladder and I was rapidly descending!)

Another highlight was to be found out on deck – the seas were running slightly??? high that day, and the front edge of the deck was catching waves with about 3 feet or more of water coming over the deck as the ship dipped into the hollows left by the swells. It seems that this was the one and only time the crew saw that – at least on that cruise. All in all it was a wonderful experience and helped us wives have a better understanding of what our husbands would experience on their upcoming 6-month cruise.

We wives were very privileged to be allowed to see and experience what our husbands would live with when they left for their 6-month cruise, and I thank the Navy for allowing me to have that once-in-a-lifetime experience.