The Garden Party
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The Garden Party

By the time we exchanged calls with my third skipper, my cards read


Frank Gregory Charlton, III
Lieutenant, United States Navy

There were other formal occasions in those days. From time to time, such as for a Change of Command ceremony, we wore Dress Blue (Bravo), instead of the Service Dress uniform. The Dress uniform differed from the Service Dress uniform only in that I had to wear medals instead of ribbons, and a formal sword.

At formal social functions I had to wear a Dinner Dress uniform, which was a Dress uniform, with sword, and with miniature medals instead of the full-size medals worn with Dress uniform at official military functions.

One time in Key West our Commodore held a garden party. The invitation specified a Garden Party uniform for all the officers. All of us went to the manual of Uniform Regulations and tried to look up the Garden Party uniform. It was not listed. We had to call around, until we found that it was an undocumented uniform that was normally worn only around Annapolis. The uniform consisted of a hat, coat, shirt and tie from a Service Dress Blue (Bravo) uniform, and a belt, trousers, shoes and socks from a Dress White uniform. There was some confusion whether the tie was to be a long black tie with Windsor knot, or whether it was to be a black bow tie. I tied my Windsor, but I put my bow tie in my pocket, just in case. When we got to the Commodore's quarters, I saw that I was quite properly dressed.

At one point early in the party, I was near the receiving line when a Commander and his wife approached the party. He was wearing almost the right uniform. But he was wearing a bow tie. I saw him step behind a tree just before he and his wife arrived at the garden gate. When he stepped back into view, he had changed into a long tie with Windsor knot.

It was The Thing To Do.

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