Souvenir-Making: An Ancient Seabee Pastime

Souvenir-making was a popular and lucrative pastime for Seabees.  Bob Hope delighted Hugh Aaron’s fictional comrades by alluding to the practice of making and selling “authentic native art” to supply ships and latecomers to the islands.

Seabees were the first outfits to make their home on a new island and to begin the creation of a new base.  They served far longer tours overseas with less R and R, than others and often with lengthy periods of relative inactivity as they awaited a new assignment.  They were, literally and figuratively, the "old men" of the base when eager young flight crews arrived for shorter and more intense stays.

The Seabees offered tips on survival in the jungle, fixed watches and other personal items, and "supplied" everything from gasoline for PT boats to refreshments for an impromptu party.  It was only natural that the Bees would also see to it that native art, jewelry, and machetes, etc. were available for sale.  And after a few months of seeing other outfits break their 6 month tours with R and R in Brisbane, the Bees understandably considered themselves natives and the quality of their workmanship surely would leave no cause for complaint.

So Hobby-Lobby was a popular place for converting natural resources and junked metals into gifts for their own loved ones and sale items for tomorrow's liberty ship.

And up at the strip on Green Island, Lt. Richard Nixon was running a hamburger stand with beef procured from Seabees and lining his pockets with poker winnings.

Bob Conner made this grass skirt; one of several he shipped back for the women in his life.  He also made seas shell jewelry, a mahogany gavel for each of 2 civic organisations on High Point, and an elegant silver tipped cane for Lib's Uncle Ed.

Sadly many of his souvenirs were lost in a 1963 house fire.