” THE TALE OF FOUR WAGS – The unfinished Memoir – Author – John “Jocko” Denison – by Andover ’51 Class correspondence secretary George Rider

Jocko passed away 6/6/2020. The title could have been, “THE TRAVELS OF A BULLDOG AND 3 TIGERS ”

The year was 1953. Four 1951 Andover Classmates reunited in the
bowels of the S.S. Zuiderkruis, a converted World War II Liberty Ship.
Jocko was the sole Yalie. Doc Castle, Gordon Douglas and Roger Gilbert
were Princeton roommates.

In Jocko’s words: “The crossing from New York to Rotterdam took 16
days. The passengers were all college students with a female/male ratio
of 7 to 1. Heineken cost .10 cents a bottle, hard booze .17 cents.

“We mixed martinis in the small sink in our below-the-waterline, 4-
person cabin, and never knew if it was night or day, probably ushering
in what is now known as Spring Break. On landing in Holland, we
bought a Citroen on an 8-week buy-back. The total cost for 8 weeks was
$400 dollars. We toured England and Scotland, and most of the
countries in Europe, sleeping in hotels only 5 nights.

“We searched out farm lands, slept on a Loch Ness beach, any other
open space we could, under the stars. One night we were awakened by
a farmer pointing his pitchfork at us. He herded us back to the
farmhouse, and made us clean up at the outdoor water pump. All the
while, his wife was making breakfast for us.”

Jock sent me this with a poignant note hinting about the future.
“George, if I had your newfound talent, and more time left, I could
write a lengthy memoir of that trip. I am in hospice with no guess as to
how long, but am being kept relatively free from pain and in fine
mental shape except for short term memory. Keep up the good work!
I haven’t seen Doc or Gordie since our 50 th . If they are still with us,
maybe they could write a memoir of that trip.”

Gordon responded. “Jocko, you did a great job telling our story.
There are lots of others, the rabbits in the UK, the dog in Italy, the
German motorcyclist, and the time our sleeping bags were stolen in
Paris. I met my first wife on the trip. Rog is not faring well. Glad to hear
you are doing relatively well.”

Doc added, “The good old days. Wonderful memories! Rog, Gordie
and I were Princeton roommates, and Cap & Gown club mates. Jock
was first cousin of Marty Moore, Roger’s bride-to-be several years later.
Roger was best man at my weddings, first and second, 33 years apart.
My life has been productive in banking, law and government, I’m
blessed with good health. I’m very fortunate.

Jocko responded very quickly. “Thanks, Gordie, wonderful to hear
from you and Doc, and happy to hear you’re both still at it. More and
more of that trip is coming back as one of the highlights of a long life.
George, if I had your late-in-life learned talent, I, with Doc and Gordie’s
help and perhaps censorship, would write a companion book to yours.”

“Three more snippets for Gordie and Doc: Roger competing bravel
but falling badly throwing the hammer at the Highland Games in
Inverness; one more of us, (I know it wasn’t me) trying to rock climb the
cliff to the Edinburgh Castle at night; and drawing straws as to who had
to sit in the front seat with our terribly boring tour guide in Holland. He
did get back in our graces when we ended up with a wonderful
Indonesian meal, and a non-participating tour of the red-light district in
Amsterdam. Best wishes and thanks to all for the memories to all.”

All of the above back and forth took place in two days, December 8 th
and 9 th , 2019.
Billy Lee emailed Jock, 12/8/2019, “What a great story,
and so animatedly told. I can’t believe you are in hospice! Sounds like
you are in a bar with friends, telling great stories as usual!” Our dear friend Jocko may have passed, but his stories – like our friendships –
live on.