Posted by Myron Barnstone, edited by Joel Bowers on April 13, 2016
On board a troop ship during the thirty days it would take to reach Korea, I used to shave in the head. The head was located in the prow of the ship and when the waves caused the ship to sink its prow under the waves, the water in the urinal would slosh from one end to the next and standing at a washbasin, with thighs locked to its sides was a bit of challenge. Of course, I was shaving with what is called a cutthroat razor. Mine, which I had for many years had been stripped to the point of offering a reverse curve on the edge of the very sharp blade. So sharp, in fact, that I could cut into a hair and then slice along its center until, quartering it, caused it to break.
The bulkheads between compartments had doors with round tops and bottoms and doors that closed watertight. My performance, shaving with this weapon of violence attracted an audience of attentive heads lining the doorway. So shocked was I that, when looking up to see this design of open-mouthed faces, I turned too quickly and slid the blade through my ear lobe leaving a fine line of blood around the lobe. I didn't so much as wipe it and it was closed and healed by bedtime.
When I boarded the ship, we were asked if we had any weapons to check. I told the officer only my shaving razor, which he asked me to turn into the supply locker until I left the ship. I asked him what time they opened the locker. He said, “Eight o-clock.” “That's fine,” I said, as long as you open it at six to let me use it to shave. I got my razor back and that was the end of that. My brother, Leonard, fancied he would like to shave with a cutthroat razor and I got him one. Not long after, he presented his fine German blade to me, not being comfortable dragging it across his tender flesh first thing in the morning. I still trim my beard with that same razor.
Korea was a bit of a blur and didn’t last long. Soon after, I was reassigned to Japan.