The answer to the origin of the Black-Cat & 8-Ball

These are excerpts from letters to Tom Barrett after the Kearny newsletter posted the question as to where the "Cat & 8-Ball" came from
".......The black cat was a very casual item in our history. Thye decided to commission the Kearny on a Friday the 13th which as any superstitious fool knows will bring bad luck, so when the salesman for our ships store came aboard to talk about his services we were interested. He told us that his company would supply us with a quality built newspaper type stand that would sit on deck out of the way but when open for business would enable the attendant to handle everything from the outside with side open without the need to be inside. Mr. Sarsfield (our Exec.) had already approved the transaction so the only thing left was to select what we wanted on the matches. A group of us "peons" were standing around and he asked for our ideas. We thought that perhaps by selecting two bad-luck omens we would change our fortune. We liked the black cat but we also wanted him to be behind the 8-ball. He called his office and came back saying they could put the cat on top of the ball, but not behind. We thought that would be OK, so we checked with our Exec. and it was done. The next day a truck came down on the dock with our stand and a truck crane picked it up and sat it on deck on the port quarter adjacent to the number 3 5-inch cannon just clear of the rail. Welders came aboard and welded eyes to the deck so the stand would be securely fastened and it was done, complete with stock and our new matches which had the USS Kearny DD432 on one side and the 8-ball with a black cat sitting on top......."

".......In 1938, Jack Holt and I were enrolled at U.S. navy service school at Norfolk--Holt in metalsmith school and I in MM school. While on liberty together we went to Colemans tattoo parlor on E. Main St. and he had the black cat on the 8-ball tattooed on his left... Later we were shipmates on the old Kanawha (AO-1). In 1940 we requested new construction and were assigned to the USS Kearny detail at Brooklyn Navy Yard. Kearny wae commissioned on Friday the 13th so J.P. Holts tattoo was selected as the ships logo. Before the Kearny was torpedoed, Holt was x-ferred to the USS Curtiss--a seaplane tender.

".......the story about the vendor could well be the way it was selected--I only know that the logo was copied from Holt's tattoo. Jack was a real character--he wore an earring in his left ear and had two screws taootted on his rump!! He had a quick wit and ready answer for anything. One day I passed him on the deck where he was practicing welding. Even though I knew better, I asked him what he was making--he says "This is going to be a 'spoing'" I asked "what is a 'spoing'"?...He took the piece of hot metal and threw it in the water--sure enough it went 'spoing'. he was a guy that could see fun in everything. I looked in the Social Security death index and see that he is now deceased......."

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