Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Pepper's Sailing Adventure With My Dad and Vonnegut

Richard Huntington Pepper, Esq.
Richard Huntington Pepper, Esq., is a lawyer who once represented royalty - a young lady who claimed she was Princess Hope, daughter of an African King. She was jailed when she refused to pay a hotel bill. Pepper tried to get her out of the can on the basis of diplomatic immunity. He was doing pretty well, too, until Her Highness told then Judge Jim Hogan that "Mr. Pepper has the biggest cock I've ever seen!"

Judge Hogan, who had also sailed with Pepper, took judicial notice that the object mentioned was, in fact, considerably smaller than represented. That unfortunately provided a basis for discounting the rest of Princess Hope's testimony, as compelling as it might be.

Before President Judge Al Williams issued a Court Order banning all NorCo lawyers from sailing, Pepper was also a frequent recruit on my father's many maritime adventures. He sent me this email about one of them.


Your recent blog referencing your old man and Vonnegut brought back memories of sailing with Captain O’Hare and one band or another of pirates and shellbacks.

Having become somewhat used to being reported “lost at sea”, which seemed to occur far more frequently than one might expect; sailing trips with your dad were always an adventure of epic proportion, filled with equal measures of uncertainty, dread and amazement. Often spending a several weeks at a time, a few hundred miles offshore, more or less alone and trapped on a 35’ ill-equipped sailboat; I would like to think affords you a fair opportunity to assess the measure of a man. Such it was with Captain O’Hare.

My customary first watch of the day when sailing with your dad was usually the morning watch from 0400 to 0800, when he would relieve me at the helm. While he enjoyed his first cigarette and coffee of the morning as he tried to figure out how far off course I had placed us, he sometimes talked haltingly about WWII, Vonnegut, the Battle of the Bulge and Dresden. For the most part in the early days of sailing with your dad, I took these tales as more fanciful than factual as often happens among ancient mariners while at sea. Now knowing how much bigger than life your dad actually was, I should have known better.

On a given Friday a few years later, your dad called me and instructed that I pack a day bag for sailing on Saturday around New York with a day passenger. I had, apparently, been shanghaied. As I made the boat ready and pretended to know what I was doing, your father’s day passenger arrived. It was Vonnegut. Not any old Vonnegut; THE Vonnegut. For the better part of a long day, I sailed in circles listening to these two old warriors talk about their youth, the war, their capture and imprisonment, and a long-forgotten German girl that kept them alive. Vonnegut confirmed every word of your dad’s memories of those horrible times, even attributing their survival during capture to your father’s less than artful use of the German language. He was quite a guy. “So it goes.”


Addendum: During the Battle of the Bulge, my father and Vonnegut were intelligence scouts, selected for their understanding of foreign languages. Naturally, neither knew a word of German. Looking through a phrase book, my father screams, "Nein Scheissen," thinking he's asking them not to shoot him.

He was actually saying, "Don't shit."

The Germans started laughing.They laughed more when they learned my Dad's last name is O'Hare. "Herr O'hare," they laughed. 

It was around this time that both were either being marched or were inside the cattle car of a POW train rumbling its way deep into the bowels of the Third Reich. 

(Originally published in 2016)


Anonymous said...

Your father was very fortunate. Some German's starting shooting American prisoners instead of holding them. Bad times.

Anonymous said...

I've so enjoyed re-reading the diary posts. They never get old. This note is very cool and equally enjoyable. Thank you for sharing with your loyal readers. Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for interesting perspective on a great writer.
For the guy who wanted to know where Hanover water break was Twp. sent out another e-mail. On Jacksonville rd north of Crawford. Northbound closed, no where near Stafore.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think that might be a second break.

JoAnnKennedy said...


Anonymous said...

I believe Atty. Pepper row works in the District Attorneys office.