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From the book “Sailor’s Journey into War” by Robert A. Maher, FC1c at DD 215 USS Borie.

"Brazil had been an allied sympathizer since the attack on Pearl Harbor, but out of economic need had allowed Germany and Italy to continue using its airports, even though it had broken diplomatic relations with those countries. Recife had all the requirements for a good liberty port – nice restaurants, bars, shows, and high class brothels. After nearly two years of primitive liberties, we were ecstatic with what we found there. I don’t remember exactly how many times we had liberty in Recife, but probably it was about six, and all of them were fantastic. We were paid in Brazilian money, and the exchange rate was twenty to one. During that part of the war we were at sea most of the time, so we had little chance to spend our money, which meant when we went ashore we had bundle.

For my first liberty in Recife I withdrew US$ 100, not realizing that would be $ 2,000 in Brazilian money (all the other guys did the same sort of thing). I was handed a roll of bills about four inches thick, which I had to carry in my hands because the money wouldn’t fit in my pockets or wallet. We started our treating a Brazilian dollar as a nickel, and because of that we made great friends with local people. Brazil used the same monetary system we did. For example, 100 centavos equaled one Cruzeiro (one Brazilian dollar). Suddenly we were all rich.

I spent my first money on a taxi ride from the dock to a restaurant, five Cruzeiros. Jimmy and I usually split the bills, but for twenty-five cents I could afford to be a big spender. Hell, I couldn’t let the guy go with only twenty-five cents, so I gave him another twenty-five cents. I couldn’t understand why he shook my hand so hard for a twenty five cents tip ( I had actually given him ten dollars). About eight of us met at a very nice restaurant, where we all sat at the same table. Again I decided to be generous and ordered steaks for everyone. (They were five dollar each or about forty dollars for everyone (Two dollars American).

When I tipped the waiter, I couldn’t give him thirty cents (15 percent of two dollars), so I gave him ten cruzeiros, and I swear he did back flips all the way to the kitchen. That sort of thing happened with all the crew until we learned to think in Brazilian money. Of course, by then all shopkeepers and everyone else knew we were easy, so they set up two sets of prices, one for Brazilians and one for Americans. Even at the higher prices everything was still a bargain. Of course I had to stand shore patrol duty there, and that was always interesting. There wasn’t much need for shore patrol in the city proper because the atmosphere was such that a man had to look for trouble if he wanted it.

So most of my shore patrol was in the brothels, and that was always interesting. They were nothing like the whorehouses in Panama or Jamaica, which if you were smart, you avoided like the plague even on shore patrol. As always, the shore patrol went ashore before the start of regular liberty. And, as always, we headed for the brothel areas. Prostitution was legal, so there was no need to carry out business in dark sleazy hideaways. ) (Consequently, the houses were nice looking, usually large, and located in clean residential areas. Inside they were well-decorated and usually had a large sitting room where the resident “talent” congregated.

In most, but not all of the houses, the women fit the description of call girls, not of streetwalkers, the image that most people get when the word prostitute is used. As a matter of fact, there were no streetwalkers in Recife such as seen in New York, Panama, Casablanca, and most of the ports we visited.As we approached the brothel area, the first thing we would see were men scurrying out of the houses; we were to discover that those men were Brazilian or British sailors who were welcome only when the Americans were out to sea, unless they were willing to pay the price set for Americans. Most of them couldn’t afford that, so out they went.

We would patrol the whole area and inspect all the houses. Then, as in other areas where the houses and the girls were sleazy, we would pick out one place to sit and talk with the girls until liberty started. In Recife, however, that wasn’t easy because Brazil was the one country where nobody spoke English, not even the little kids or taxi drivers. My Spanish wasn’t much help either because the residents didn’t speak Spanish either. I could pick out written words in newspapers or menus, but as far as speaking or understanding, forget it.I had been told by naval dentist in Panama that I would have to have a front tooth pulled because it couldn’t be filled.

I told him to forget it. While in Recife, I decided to go to a civilian dentist, and I was sure that the dentist, being a college man and living in a predominantly Spanish speaking continent, would be able to speak and understand Spanish. Wrong! What a predicament. I knew that I had gum-line cavity on an incisor, and I also knew that it could hurt very much when being drilled to prepare it for filling. So now, not being able to tell him how I felt, I became very subtle. I demonstrated that I would knock his block off if he hurt me to much while drilling. This wasn’t hard to do because he was a nice little guy, about five feet, four inches tall.

He did believe me; however, as he must have started the smallest drill made and went zzzt. He then went to successively larger drills giving each one a zzzt . He never hurt me one little bit, and still have that tooth fifty years later. There was a femme fatale operating in south Atlantic in the port of Bahia. Survivors of torpedoed ships asserted that security very slightly observed at Bahia where “Torpedo Anne”, a beautiful red head, seduced only men with the rank of master and passed on information to Germany. She was suspected of supplying information that resulted in the loss of liberty ship from BT 6, which was proceeding from Bahia to Trinidad.)"



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