Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sepia Saturday: Pacific Tour

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

Wallaby on USS Colorado about 1925
A Wallaby on the Colorado

It is not a yawning koala like the prompt image at Sepia Saturday, but the wallaby is from the same continent. Apparently this cousin of the kangaroo was a guest on board the USS Colorado when my maternal grandmother’s brother Ray Rucker was a sailor. Ray has been featured before HERE and HERE.

The Colorado was just a young ship in 1924 when she was sent from her home base in New York to California for force assignment. There the Colorado participated in a number of exercises and ceremonies with the Pacific Battle Fleet. Then from June – September 1925, the whole fleet paid visits to Samoa, Australia and New Zealand apparently just to “show the flag” in the southwestern Pacific.

The tour created some excitement at least in Auckland, New Zealand. The Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve staged its first parade several months in advance in preparation for the arrival of the United States Navy Battle Squadron. Its first official duty was to serve as the US Navy’s Honor Guard.

US Navy parade Auckland, NZ 1925 Ray Rucker
Navy parade Auckland, New Zealand 1925

Ray saved some of the official photos and postcards from that tour. The reverse of the postcard featuring the Circular Quay at Sydney, New South Wales notes that it was issued by the government of Australia to the officers and men of the American Fleet July – August 1925.

Visitors from Sydney, Australia on the USS Colorado 1925 Ray Rucker
Not all Australian visitors on the Colorado were wallabies.
While most of Ray’s snapshots are not labeled, I assume some were taken while visiting Australia. After all, he saved a booklet outlining available tours.

One of the inside pages - other tours were available for Victoria,
Queensland, Tasmania, Western and Southern Australia

He also saved snapshots of the natives in Samoa.
Ray Rucker Samoa 1925
Ray Rucker at a native house in Samoa 1925
Natives in Samoa 1925
Natives of Samoa 1925

From 1976-1986 the Navy recruited young men and women saying, “It’s not just a job. It’s an adventure.” The Pacific tour seems like it was quite an adventure in 1925 too. 

Stifle that yawn! Be rejuvenated at Sepia Saturday.

“HMNZS-Ngapona.” National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy. 16 Jun 2016. Web. 16 Jun 2016.
USS Colorado Alumni Association. "USS Colorado (BB-45) – History. 1920s." USS Colorado Alumni Association. 16 Jun 2016. Web. 16 Jun 2016.
Wikipedia contributors. "USS Colorado (BB-45)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 Jun. 2016. Web. 17 Jun. 2016.

© 2016, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. Hello Wendy,
    The little wallaby is very sweet, but I wonder what he made of life on board the USS Colorado.
    I’ve just been reading your previous posts about Ray. On the face of it, he had quite an exciting life which makes the way it ended even more mysterious and very sad. In your 2012 post you say, “No one will be excited to see these pictures” actually that is not quite true. I was excited to see them, and I’m quite sure I won’t forget his story. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. I wonder if that little wallaby was a gift or a souvenir. He could hardly have just hopped on board! Sad to read about Ray, but he seemed to have experienced plenty in his short life and the postcards he left behind are invaluable. Great that you can share them with us.

  3. Thank goodness for the Rays of this world. Although Ray may have been unhappy, and surely in despair to end his life so young, he is certainly bringing pleasure to us now. He packed a lot into his twenty-seven years and we are grateful that he thought to save all those photos and all that memorabilia.

  4. I'm glad Ray seemed to enjoy his life as a sailor. Since no clue was left (apparently?) in regard to his death, the family will always wonder what happened. My husband's aunt suddenly disappeared. Apparently left home one day leaving all her belongings behind and never returned. We've always wondered if foul play was involved somehow, but we'll never know. It's a disturbing feeling that never quite goes away.

  5. Fascinating! Your three stories of Ray link together neatly and tell an interesting story about a sailor's navy experience during those brief decades of peacetime between the wars. I doubt any modern battle cruiser would allow a wallaby to be a mascot.

  6. Many young men thought it would be a great adventure when they joined the military/ navy, it probably was as long there was not a war. Poor little wallaby, it must have missed its mob and bush to roam, as they live in family groups. It's all history now, as you show the neatly saved memories of a time past.

  7. Fascinating posts, Wendy. Ray did leave behind some amazing keepsakes and photos, a slice of history I probably wouldn't have learned about otherwise. Thank you for sharing.

  8. I know I had some family who joined the Navy and for poor farmer boys who had little opportunity to travel or get an education, it offered the opportunity for things they could experience no other way. Great post Wendy

  9. I hope that poor little wallaby was only a short-term tourist in board. I suspect many young men from less advantaged backgrounds found joining the services a way to explore the world. At least Ray had some amazing experiences in his short life. Seeing this week's prompt I might have to do a late SS post.

  10. Great post and I'm so glad you are remembering Ray. My grandmother had two sisters who she was friends with. Neither one married (called spinsters in those days) nor had children. While I've mentioned them before, I really don't have much information about them and I don't want their stories to die.

    I wonder how the wallaby ended up on board the ship. I have a photo of my husband's grandfather hugging a koala - too bad I'm not doing Sepia Saturday ;-)