As I’ve noted here before, I served on the USS Saugus (YTB-780), a Navy harbor tugboat assigned to the U.S. nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland in 1974-1975.
I was not crazy about the cold, damp and rainy winter weather or the rough seas when the tugboat ventured into the Irish Sea, but I liked the open and friendly Scottish people – especially the “wee Scottish lasses.”
The U.S. dollar was in good shape in the early 1970s, so from a Scot point-of-view, American sailors were rich. We were also considered to be generous, buying the girls drinks, food and gifts. Most Scottish young men considered us to be overly generous, as they could not compete with the cash-heavy “Yanks.”
I spent some time at the U.S. Enlisted Men’s Club and the local pubs in the nearby town of Dunoon, but as I thought there were too many sailors there, and I was a South Philly city kid, I mostly took the ferry and train to Glasgow.
I had a friend on the tug named Billie Bob Rutledge. He was a Southern country boy, so I took him with me to Glasgow one weekend to show him the city’s bright lights and vibrant night life.
We visited a Glasgow club and sat at a table. After we were served our drinks, I took out a pack of Marlboro cigarettes and laid them on the table.
“I thought you smoke cigars, not cigarettes,” Rutledge said.
“I don’t smoke cigarettes,” I replied.
“Count to ten,” I told him.
On the count of four, a pretty young girl came over to our table and asked me, “Are those American cigarettes?”
“Yes,” I replied. “Do you want one?”
She nodded and accepted a cigarette. I lit it for her and asked to sit down and have a drink with us. She sat down at our table and motioned for her girlfriend to come over and join us.
Rutledge and I had a fine time that night with the two Scottish lasses. Rutledge later told me that he was amazed at my somewhat cheap but effective way to attract Scottish girls.
Of course, Scottish men resented Americans like me. Going back to World War II, when Americans were stationed in the U.K. en masse, the Brits have considered American troops to be ostentatious.
One British wit in WWII complained about the presence of American servicemen, stating famously, “They’re oversexed, overpaid and over here.”
I recall a story about Brit troops in England in WWII watching the Disney film “Bambi.”
When Bambi’s mother calls out for Bambi in the film, a Brit soldier yelled out, “She’s probably out with a fooking Yank!”