“So, what brings you to the USS Iowa today?”
It was an innocent question but it was as loaded as one of the battleship’s massive 16 inch guns back in the day.
I smiled at the lady on the other side of the glass while I bought my brain a little time to think of a good reason. She had a level of cheery pep not seen since Jan Hooks played Tina the Alamo tour guide. Between her enthusiasm and the layout of the ticket booth giving me a flashback to that one time I went to confession, I couldn’t lie. I had to spill my guts.
“Uh… I came here to poke fun at Iowa.”
Before her brow could even furrow, I stammered on.
“Not the ship or the museum but the state of Iowa and the Iowa Hawkeyes and their fans. My college team is playing Iowa next Friday and it’s their biggest game of the season so I thought this would be something fun for my football site. Don’t worry. It will all be very tasteful and in mostly good spirits.”
“So… you’re saying you’re visiting today because of a football game?”
“Yep. Pretty much.”
“That’ll be $19.95. Would you like to sign up for our email list?”
After 11 straight weeks of Husker football Saturdays, this late season bye week threw a wrench in my usual game day routine. Luckily, I woke up with the brilliant idea to roll down to San Pedro pay a visit to the USS Iowa, which is permanently docked in the Port of Los Angeles as a floating museum, and let The Big Stick know that the Big Red plans to break some Hawkeye hearts the day after Thanksgiving.
The 16 inch guns of the USS Iowa can launch a 2,700lb projectile 23 miles. They also make a nice platform to display the grim truth that the Huskers will be notching their 6th win of the season.
Before I hit the road for the 25 mile drive down to the home of Mike Watt, I did suffer a bit of an existential crisis when it came to my personal Husker fandom.
I didn’t own a Husker flag.
Somewhere, not too far off in the distance beyond YOLO f#*kwads, Taylor Martinez very well could have been showing an open house.
Along with the life preserver, the USS Iowa boasts many more fascinating details, such as a bathtub specifically installed for FDR to use during his trans Atlantic journey to the historic Tehran Conference and this amazing sign found in the galley.
The most amazing part of the tour happened below deck in near the stern of the ship. I was looking at a model of a Tomahawk missile, or maybe it was a Harpoon, either way, a woman noticed my shirt and pointed me out to her husband who gently shook his head in anticipation of what was about to follow.
“Are you a Husker fan? From Nebraska?”
“Yeah. I’m from Grand Island but I live out here now.”
“Cozad. Live in Seattle. Chris Dishman is my brother.”
“No way! He would have played there when I was in school.”
Thus began our quick bro-down in the bowels of the USS Iowa. We went from being strangers to speaking our own language and sharing a few laughs in a matter of seconds. It was a wonderful reminder that no matter where you go in the world there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to run into a fellow Husker.
We sure as heck didn’t run into any Iowa fans.
Look! Off the port side bow, it’s the mythical island of Missing Iowan Teeth.
In all seriousness, if you have any shred of historical curiosity, the Battleship Iowa Museum is a great place to visit. As soon as I walked aboard, I kicked myself for not going sooner. Not to play tour guide but if you’re ever out in LA, it’d be quite easy to double up and visit the ship and the space shuttle Endeavor which is just 15 miles up the 110, aka a quick 20 minute or grueling hour and a half drive away depending on traffic.