John Paul Elcik, III and Jacqueline Skillin

My Dad was a “communications technician” in the Navy for twenty years. I think he was a cryptographer. He once told me (in a rare unguarded moment) that with his “rating,” he could have been on the USS Pueblo. The Pueblo was a research ship, attached to Navy intelligence as a spy ship, which was attacked and captured by North Korean forces on 23 January 1968, in what is known today as the “Pueblo incident.” To be clear, Dad never served on any ship. But it does raise questions about what his job was.

Dad’s initiation (hazing) upon being made a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy is notable as we have pictures.  Officers fed a duck a laxative, and Dad cleaned up after it for a whole day.  The duck came home with him and spent the day with us, or we might never have known. 

Another gross activity in the family would be me bringing home a Caribou’s eye for dissection.  The dissection was for an official school project. Honest. It was the smell of the formaldehyde that Mom particularly objected to. She was ok with the dissection. Parents can surprise us.

Dad was stationed in some pretty exciting places when my brothers and I were growing up.  We have pictures of our time in Guam, where my first retrievable memories happened.  In particular, I remember getting an exceptional toy car one Christmas. I have no memory of the number one sport in Guam: Cock Fighting.  It is illegal today, but its popularity has not diminished with time.

I also remember the red clay in Guam. The outside walls of our housing unit were markedly stained red from the mixture of clay and rain. It often rained in the front yard only to at the same time have the sun shining in the backyard.

Of course, then there is Japan, where Jeff was born. Jeff doesn’t have Japanese or even dual citizenship. The citizenship laws in Japan are not like ours. No anchor babies. Dad climbed Mount Fuji while we were in Japan and slid down the mountain’s backside on ashes. We have pictures. Sumo wrestling and Japanese puppet theatre were two activities we enjoyed.  Fishing was fun at a pond stocked with rainbow trout. Bait looked like cheese, and Saki, rice wine served to adults while workers prepared the fish for eating. It would be years before we would learn about “real” fishing in Maine.

John and Jackie had three children.

  • John Paul Elcik, IV
  • James Stacy Elcik
  • Jeffrey Lee Elcik

This photo is arguably the first picture taken of all three boys together. Compare it with the more recent photo of us. Note that Jeff, the baby in the first photo, has the least hair in both pictures. Only I inherited Dad’s non-receding hairline.