Whalehead King went to the tailor today and they were tidying up the button department. A magpie attracted to shiny objects, Mr. King picked through the boxes of shiny, gold buttons. He let them run through his fingers like doubloons.
Some of the buttons were stamped with the crest of the Admiral Billard Academy. Here is the story about the academy. It is true.
It seems to have been a kind of private, merchant marine prep school. If you turn down Admiral Drive from Montauk Avenue, you will see a stone ledge on your right about a hundred fifty feet down. There is a plaque set in the stone commemorating the school, erected by alumni of the last graduating class. If memory serves correctly, they graduated in 1957.
It is a little known, but equally true fact that the last whale to be rendered into oil in New London was rendered at the Admiral Billard Academy. This happened during WWII. Whalehead King is far from his archives. He is working from his vast, mental storehouse of New Londonalia. A dead whale washed up on the beach across from the Admiral Billard Academy in 1946 or 1947.
To honor New London tradition and keep their skills sharp, the students flensed the blubber off the carcass. They boiled down the sperm into lamp oil like their forefathers had. They did this in the cafeteria kitchen rather than on a whaling ship’s deck, but you get the idea.
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