East Inn Reminiscences
- Olongapo, P.I.
I don't know whether it finally burned down or not, but I found photographic evidence of our Westpac home away from home on the internet. If it did burn it had to be gone in less than two minutes. I'm not sure if you submarine guys ever made it to Subic Bay much, but for the surface guys, aviators and Marines the East Inn was kind of a perverted Mecca in reverse. Everybody had to go there at least once. I will admit to having visited more than once.
There was a mass exodus from the Naval Base when liberty call commenced. The white hats and Marines streamed from Subic at a rapid pace through the main gate and across the Shit River bridge toward the dozens of bars which lined both sides of every street. The size of the mob decreased as it moved eastward while bone-dry, impatient men dropped off at the nearest bars. The troops were thirsty, lonely and hungry for affection and Olongapo was waiting to fulfill all desires and expectations.
The East End club itself was on the second floor. You'll notice in the picture that the first floor contained a hardware store. Patrons ascended a long flight of stairs to reach the club. As the girls in the club heard someone coming up the stairs, visitors could hear a stampede of tiny feet thundering across the dance floor toward the entrance to intercept the newcomers. Once inside the first thing a patron noticed was the owners had never heard of paint. I remember the entire interior of the club to be a dull gray or brown in color. What a dump! It was one big room containing a bar, dance floor, stage for the band, and a large number of small tables and chairs.
We would grab a table and would be immediately surrounded by Filipino "Working Girls." You ordered your San Miguel and were, of course, asked by the girls to "Buy me one drink." Sometimes you got two San Miguels frozen together, and you had to chip the ice off to drink the first one. One time three or four of us were sitting at a table and one of the girls said, "You buy me drink and I give you naked show." We bought her a drink and she stripped and started dancing on our table. She squatted down and picked up my San Miguel without using her hands. I immediately exclaimed, "Waiter!"
There was also a lot of "under-the-table" activity constantly going on at the East Inn. Two of my Lieutenants took me there one time and we drank a beer and left. They were upset as we walked back down Magsaysay Blvd. I asked them what was bugging them. Unbeknownst to me, they had paid a lovely $20 to give me some "under-the-table" action, but I got up and left before she had the chance to get under the table. They were out twenty bucks. Tau Sigma, as they say in the Greek Marines.
I never lasted more than 15 or 20 minutes in the East Inn for several reasons. The activities usually underway in there were so appalling that your impulse was get up and run for your life, or at least run for your health. For those of you who knew me in those days, you know that it really had to be bad to get me to run. "Liberty Risk" was my middle name. The second reason was that the sailors and Marines who hung out there didn't like having their officers around while on liberty. They had to put up with us all day as it was. But the East Inn was like one of the Seven Wonders of the World. You had to see it at least once.
What a dump!! Note the rusty roof and the debris along the right side of the building. And, it was right after the street cleaners went through!
So I'll admit to having been in the East Inn more than once, but seriously doubt that my total time in there over the years was as much as one hour. None the less, when I saw that sad picture of the Marines from Subic Bay Marine Barracks, lowering the flag for the last time in 1992, a tear ran down my cheek.
So we left the P.I. for good and headed back to Okinawa. As the ship pulled up to the pier at White Beach we lined the decks at quarters for entering port. The pier was full of the Okinawan lovelies we had left several months before, and a small Okinawan band was playing that timeless oriental favorite, "I Ruv You No Shit." Welcome home!
by Dirck Praeger