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Home > September 2014 > From the Collection: Crossing the Line
From the Collection: Crossing the Line
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Posted: 9/2/2014 10:22:23 AM

Many former crew members have colorful stories about the Crossing the Line rituals on Intrepid. The Crossing the Line ceremony is held when a ship crosses the Equator. Anyone on the ship who has not previously sailed across this latitude is called a pollywog, while those who have are shellbacks. During the ceremony an initiation obstacle course is set up on the flight deck for pollywogs to complete. The Museum’s collection includes scripts, menus, certificates, photographs and even film from the ceremony.

Recently Ronald Wishman, an aviation machinist’s mate on Intrepid from 1966-1968, donated a Plan of the Day from December 2, 1967. Plans of the Day informed crew on the daily schedule, uniform of the day and any other pertinent information that crew members needed to know. On this day Intrepid held a crossing the line ceremony, which included outlines for how each crew member should dress. This has been invaluable in helping the Museum better identify photographs in our Media Collection.
 
Plan of the Day

Plan of the Day from December 2, 1967. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of Ronald Wishman. A2014.53)
 
On this Plan of the Day the “Pollywog Quiz Kids” must present themselves wearing, “skivvies, overshoes, Neptune mortarboard, boxing gloves, horn-rimmed glasses, cigarette holder and large sign saying, ‘I AM A SLIMY POLLYWOG.’ Carry king-size dictionary, and be prepared to look up words for inquisitive Shellbacks.” In a picture donated by Garrett Craig Meyers, an aviation mechanic onboard Intrepid from 1967-1969, we have identified a “Pollywog Quiz Kid.” While the Plan of the Day and the photograph are from subsequent years, 1967 and 1968, we are better able to identify the image in our records. This also helps us understand that certain characters and traditions were reenacted during multiple Crossing the Line ceremonies.
 
Crossing the Line Ceremony

A “Pollywog Quiz Kid” during the 1968 Crossing the Line ceremony. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of Garrett Craig Myers, AMS3. P2013.02.33)
 
This is one example of how documents, images and artifacts from crew members help us learn more about life on Intrepid. On August 16, the Museum opened a temporary exhibition, Objects in Conversation. The exhibition includes more examples of how individual items become more valuable and meaningful as part of our collection than as stand-alone objects.

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