My Grandfather, the Mariner: Part 1

If you remember from my last post, my cousin Beth has sent me some fun family ephemera. (Just try to say that three times fast!) In addition to my parents’ wedding notice, she also sent me several menus and other items from our grandfather’s days as a ship’s chef.

Charles Lawrence Keene, Sr., my dad’s dad, began his working life as a chef in hotels. He sent postcards and letters back to his parents in Massachusetts from all over the United States, as he traveled to where ever he could find work. Eventually, he was hired as a chef for the Matson Line, working aboard both passenger liners and cargo vessels. From what I have found, it seems that most of his voyages were between the West Coast and the Territory of Hawaii.

During World War II, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Merchant Marine. During the war, he sailed to Europe at least once, as we have a Christmas card sent to my grandmother from Palermo in 1943.


The photo above is of my father, Charles Jr., and his father, Charles Sr., both in their wartime uniforms, taken about 1944. From his WWII registration card, Charles Sr.’s age at enlistment was 59.

This was actually my father’s second enlistment, the first being in 1938, as a young single man. He had sailed to the Territory of Hawaii, where his short stature wasn’t a deterrent to his enlistment, as it was on the mainland.

Dad was stationed at Schofield Barracks, and my grandfather would often meet up with him when his ship was in port. One of the items Beth sent me was a menu from The Post Exchange at Schofield. I imagine that they walked over to the Exchange, ordered a nice sandwich, and caught up on the news.

keene-charles jr-1938-schofield barracks menu cover.png

I can also easily imagine my dad enjoying either a roast beef or liverwurst sandwich, followed by a scoop of ice cream, and washed down with a cup of strong black coffee, all for about .30!

keene-charles jr-1938-scofield barracks menu shadowed 2.png

And, then my grandfather would return to his ship and sail back across the Pacific to California.

I have a few menus from those voyages, but I will save them for my next post.

“Til then…


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