The memories, the stories, the mementoes that submariners collect during their long months under the sea? Things only fellow shipmates would consider priceless?
For retired Torpedoman 1st Class Larry Timby, the personal and unit items shared — and sometimes pocketed along the way — follow a certain theme.
“When you first get out of the military, you have your plaques and your awards, and you hang them in your house,” Timby said. “They call it their ‘I Love Me’ wall.”
“The wife or the girlfriend doesn’t want to see it on the wall anymore,” he said. “And when you downsize or move, what do you do with it?”
Sure, some stuff gets packed in a box and forgotten. But over the years, many submariners have opted to send their stuff to the Horse & Cow , perhaps the most legendary submariner bar on the planet.
Part cozy dive, part museum, the Horse & Cow’s location in downtown Bremerton stands as an homage to the silent service, a monument that you can drink in.
On the bar’s bukheads swim the history of the American submariner, through items meaningful not only to the sailors who donated them but also the crews that recognize the artifacts when they spot them.
On one wall hangs what’s believed to be the original canvas banner from the Nautilus , America’s first nuclear-powered submarine launched in 1954, four years before she dove under the North Pole.
Another wall features a box of three military-issue knives, given to the tavern by a retired Navy SEAL who’d rather have them displayed here than languish in an attic trunk.
Overhead, attached to a USS Horse & Cow (SSN 333 1/3) sail, the eyes find a pair of Texas longhorns. They went underway aboard the now-decommissioned submarine Houston .
The tattered American flag that flew on the sub’s final tour is framed on another wall, a present from the boat’s last commander.
Walls are pocked in plaques and original World War II Walt Disney drawings of submarine insignia. Everywhere are banners and sideboards and probes and engine room throttle wheels, gadgets and gear looted by submariners over the years that ended up here.
When Navy Times visited, Timby proudly showed off their latest trophy: a sideboard from the submarine Bremerton , a boat on its way to being decommissioned after 37 years of service.“I think it was a Cold War incident,” said Timby, disputing the semi-official explanation that an accidental torpedo explosion crushed the boat’s hull.A yellowing bar biography on the wall explains that the name “Horse & Cow” stems from Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, who’s often portrayed accompanied by a small horse and a small cow, or bull.During the world wars, “merchant sailors, terrified of being sunk by submarines, tattooed a horse on one ankle, a cow on the other, in hopes of ensuring safe passage,” the bio states.It might be an architectural homage to the silent service, but the bar and restaurant also brims with sailors, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard hands, military veterans of all stripes and […]