Turning Sailors into Craftsmen
How bluejackets at Dunwoody Training Station are fitted to trades they like
Willard Connelv, U.S.N.R.F.
THE United States Government is the professor of independence in the University of America. One of his pet classes is the Navy, in which he teaches competence for life to his pupils, the bluejackets. For them he has schools on land as well as on water, from which his approved graduates may re-enter civil life awarded a degree whose counterpart is given at few colleges—the degree of Bachelor of Thoroughness.
One of these land schools is the Dunwoody Industrial Institute in Minneapolis, now a United States Naval Training Station. There, more than six hundred bluejackets and petty officers are acquiring skill in the crafts which they want to make their life work. The men are not enlisted from one community, any mere than the midshipmen at Annapolis are all from Maryland. They arrive in detachments from the various recruiting centers—Detroit, Chicago, Buffalo, Richmond, Pensacola, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle. Nine courses of study are offered the naval apprentices at Dunwoody; and he is an odd youth indeed who never in his life has evinced particular concern about one or more of them. In general, the
classes are formed from two sorts of men. Suppose Captain Moffett, Commandant of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, were to send one hundred radio men to Dunwoody. He first combs his roster for bluejackets who have had previous experience in wireless telegraphy and who desire to continue; second, for men who have long wanted to be operators but who have never had the chance to learn before they joined the Navy. If mental qualifications are satisfactory, the latter men are elected as well, and later graded so as not to be a drag on their more experienced mates. After a four months’ course of electrical study and operating practice in the international code, these men are able to receive twenty to thirty words per minute, and can go direct to sea. In electricity, they have laboratory work, and lectures in magnetism, storage batteries, condensers and oscillating currents, spark systems, wave meters and measurements. The bluejackets who learn to be ship’s bakers probably have as much actual fun out of their work as any. With all the latest scientific mixing and blending apparatus at hand, they leisurely turn out one thousand loaves of bread a day, three hundred loaves going for the general mess
and the remainder being sold to a local baker at cost. On demand, they supply a hundred apple pies or fifty chocolate cakes in the course of a morning. “Will you run a bakery of your own after the war?” I asked one of them. “Not much. This is no life for me,” was his swift answer. “Then why are you taking the course?” “I want the chemistry that comes with it. I work in the chemical laboratory after hours. I’m going into the drug business after I’ve served my next enlistment.” Many of the apprentices are as resourceful as that, with their eyes constantly on the future. In what is called the “related work,” as chemistry to baking, they have the chance to specialize as they desire. Tue man who wants to be a druggist made such a good record as a baker that he was advanced to an assistant instructorship. In fact, out of every fifteen men at Dunwoody, one has been found proficient enough to earn the post of assistant instructor. On Saturday mornings these men are taken aside in special classes by the chief instructors, who give them work in theory and applied problems. The men in the gas-engine class are learning to be motorboat pilots. They
will operate the boats used by the naval officers in getting from one ship to another in a fleet, or in going ashore from anchorage out in the harbor. The coppersmiths are making pipes and conduits, boxes and kitchen utensils. In all their work they first make blueprints in the drafting room. The assistant instructor here is a bluejacket from Seattle, who has been in the coppersmith business for himself. When war was declared, he sold out his shop at a sacrifice in order to do his bit in the Navy. Not the least important of the classes are the cooks. To prepare the food for six hundred hard-working bluejackets three times a day would seem enough to do, but these fifty embryonic chefs have scientific instruction in the classroom too. They are taught how to cut sides of meat, to know the-comparative food values of vegetables and breadstuffs, and how to compose a balanced menu. So it is not difficult to understand why the naval training course worked out by Ensign Colby Dodge, U.S.N., Commanding Officer at Dunwoody, and by Dr. Charles Prosser, Director of the Institute, means something more to the bluejacket, than scrubbing the deck or polishing the brass. It is the free gateway to a self chosen and lucrative career.