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Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Hatbox

Stick with me, I’ll try to ‘splain.  This may be new to some (many) of you.

We’re here in Pennsylvania for two reasons,   The first was to celebrate little Rebekah’s first birthday.  She did fine and got some cute presents and clothes, including a dress Mimi Marti made for her.  She had fun opening her presents once she got the idea that it is okay to rip off wrapping paper.


The other reason was to watch the girls while Ryan had a chance to finish his initiation rites into the Coast Guard’s Chief Petty Officer Corps.  It is a longstanding tradition in both the Navy and the Coast Guard to task a newly minted Chief Petty Officer (E-7) with a myriad of things to accomplish, with the goal of educating the new Chief to better prepare him (or her) to be equipped to be a knowledgeable leader.  The new Chief also has to gather from 75 or more seasoned Chiefs a written document of advice from each one that will help them in their new roles.

Of course, there is a lot of fun involved and each new Chief has to make a book to contain all the new information and words of advice as a reference.  The new Chiefs make fancy binders to hold all these documents.  It is a lot of work, hours of off duty time is spent in research of topics in Coat Guard history, regulations, national and personal history and so forth, collection of the advice and making the book to be a thing of pride.  Ryan put in hours of his nights and weekends getting in all assembled.



Another big task as part of the initiation rites is for each new Chief to build a hatbox to hold and display his Chief’s hat. The finished hatbox is judged by the seasoned Chiefs for workmanship, quality and pride in its design.


The Chief’s hat traditionally was the symbol that separated the Chief Petty Officer from junior enlisted members, who wore the traditional sailor’s hat.  Even though the Coast Guard gave up the “Dixie Cup” sailor’s hat back in 1974, the anchor on the Chief’s hat stands out.

The hatbox is to be a thing of pride.  Ryan loves to work with wood so he designed and built a box to look like a pirate’s chest.  He cut and glued different  woods together and spent countless hours constructing it. 



You can see the inlaid woods here along with brass knuckles for handles.


Because the Coast Guard is sometimes good naturedly called “Puddle Pirates” by our Navy brethren, Ryan etched into the glass top the Jolly Roger.


It also has a gear on the front to call attention to Ryan’s specialty as a Machinery Technician.


The front opens up and a shelf slides out to reveal his hat.



The finished product is a thing he’ll always be proud of.


Tonight, after all the fun of the rites of passage, there is a special, formal banquet for Ryan and our daughter-in-law Amber, along with some twenty other new Chiefs and their wives, to be welcomed into the Chief Petty Officer Corps.  It goes late, so they’ll be staying overnight in Cape May, NJ while we watch the girls.  They’ll be having a good time…and so will we!  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment'.



  1. Ryan certainly has his next career as a cabinet maker well in hand. Beautiful work.

  2. That is certainly the fanciest hat box I've ever seen. I'm sure he'll get top marks for that.

  3. Congratulations Ryan!! Paul and Marti you must be so proud of your wonderful family:o))

  4. What a cool hat box with all the symbolism!

  5. What a great thing! You have reason to be proud of Ryan and all of us out here get to learn some inside stuff about the Coast Guard traditions.

  6. That's quite a cabinet Ryan built ... a labor of love to be sure.

  7. Wow becoming a chief is really involved. what a great achievement! Wish they had a lot of the boxes on display somewhere. If they are even half as amazing as Ryan's they would ne wonderful to see. Such creativity!!

  8. You must be very proud! What a wonderful achievement! Congratulations to Ryan!

  9. You must be so proud of your son. That is truly an amazing hatbox. It will be quite an heirloom someday.

  10. Congratulations to Ryan! He is quite the wood worker. Wow, such a fun hat box.

    Have fun with the grandkids!

  11. How amazing is that!? I've never heard of the 'hat box' in the terms of the Coast Guard. Terrific! Ryan is a great craftsman.

  12. That is one beautiful looking 'hat box' and should deserve a very special place of honour when Ryan eventually retires.

    I notice you didn't show us the hat box you made for your hat! I'm guessing you left it out in the rain and the cardboard got all wet, soggy and collapsed!

    1. I was promoted to Chief so long ago that hat boxes hadn't been invented yet. But Noah was very pleased with my maintaining his ark. :cD

  13. the hat box is amazing! Ryan has a great talent!!

  14. Beautiful Box. He really put a lot of work into that. Very nice.

  15. What an interesting tradition. The hat box turned out great.

  16. So, as a former chief, what advice did you give your son?

    "Hats Off" to his accomplishments!

  17. What a gorgeous Hat Box. Very talented young man. And you and Marti are having way so much fun with the little ones. Isn't it just so neat you have the time to do it.

  18. The hat box sure is nifty. What a great job he did! I bet you're as proud as peacock. He certainly is following in your footsteps. I'm wondering if he'll be buying an RV down the road and doing just like the "old man".

  19. That hat box is awesome! What a gifted craftsman he is!

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  23. Ryan's hat box looks amazing! The detail is incredible. He would make an excellent wood crafter!

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  26. an absolutely fabulous piece of work. . .congratulations to your son, and tell him we appreciate his service. . .well done!

  27. Wow! I'm really impressed with his hat box! Beautiful work. He SHOULD be proud. He did a beautiful Job building it.

  28. butterbean carpenterJune 1, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    Howdy Marti & Chief Paul,

    As a lifetime woodworker I congratulate Ryan on his 'hatbox' !!! He is an artist !!! Congratulations on raising such a wonderful service related bunch..
    Congratulations also to the new Chief Petty Officer on his new assignment;ON THE MISSOURI RIVER, it ain't salty, but sure is muddy!! Please, be careful !!!
    Rebekah WILL HAVE HAIR SOMEDAY; our g-niece didn't get any until AFTER her first birthday, lost it to a rare condition, but at 4 has a beautiful FULL head of BLONDE BLONDE curls; and wants 'straight' hair...
    Hope y'all get back on the 'ROAD', finally !!! Have a HAPPY DAY !!!!!