Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Baby


From first grade through the fifth at Margaret Keating School, in Klamath, California, the boys in my class (and I suspect other classes too) had a strange ritual about the stand-up urinals, in what was called the ‘little kids’ bathroom. They were called that because they were located in the east end of the building as opposed to the north-wing, where the ‘big kids’ bathroom could be found.

The same thing could be said of the school’s playground.

Anytime we were released from class to use that bathroom, someone would remind us about the formal order of urinal usage. This reminder came in the form of a sing-song-like ‘nursery rhyme,’ that went, “Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Baby.”

It was generally accentuated by a finger wag, pointing out each stall as its name was called.

There were only four stand-up urinals in the bathroom and one had to be quick to get any of the other three stand-ups, before ‘Baby’ was all that was left to use. In fact, unless one of us really, really, really needed to pee, that final stall was rarely used.

Looking back, I am well aware that we were a bunch of weirdos – but such is the silliness of children.

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