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November 21, 1896


JAMA. 1896;XXVII(21):1110-1111. doi:10.1001/jama.1896.02430990034006

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"Six days shalt thou work and do all that thou art able; On the seventh, holy-stone the deck and scrape the iron cable."

Old Merchantman Rhyme.

Another time-honored "custom of the service"—but honored in no other respect than its antiquity—has fallen before a few pen-strokes over the signature of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy—the practice of holystoning the decks of men-of-war is to be henceforth abandoned. As commodores and midshipmen were once head and tail of the personnel of the naval service, and sails and spars and tacks and sheets, things without which no man-of-war could be, so was the holystone, the sacred possession of the Kaaba of the quarter-deck, which every old shell-back had first detested in his youth and then accepted in his old age, as the thorn in the flesh which it was his lot to wear without repining. This was yesterday; and to-day Midshipman

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