The Gloop Maker/Coosh Maker

This is an ancient shaggy dog story that was recently posted on the Shaggydog listserv. I first heard it in grammar school as “The Coosh Maker”– same story, however.

There once was a sailor returning to his ship. Just as he approached the edge of the dock, he slipped and fell into the water between ship and dockside. As he hit the water, the ship began to swing toward the harbor wall, and he would have been crushed to death had not a little man, with great presence of mind, thrown a rope and hauled him to safety.

“Whew, thanks!” said the sailor. “You saved my life. Tell me, is there anything I can do for you in return?”

“Well actually,” said the man, “there is something. I’d dearly like to work aboard ship and, in fact, I was just on my way to look for a job when I saw you in the water. If you could put in a word for me, I’d be greatly obliged.”

“Done!” said the sailor. He took the little man on board and tracked down his immediate superior. “This man saved my life just now, and he really would very much like to have a job on the ship.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the Petty Officer. “We have a full ship’s complement, but I’ll certainly put in a word on his behalf to my superior.What does he do?”

“I’m a Gloop Maker,” said the little man eagerly.

Not wishing to appear ignorant in front of his subordinate, the Petty Officer didn’t like to ask what exactly a Gloop Maker was, so he went to see the Chief Petty Officer.

“This man saved the life of one of my seamen,” he told the Chief. “Do you think we could find him a job aboard? He’s a Gloop Maker.”

Not wishing to appear ignorant in front of his subordinate, the Chief asked the Warrant Officer, who asked the Sub-Lieutenant and so on, all the way through the chain of command until the request reached the Captain. After congratulating the little man, the Captain, not wanting to appear ignorant, named him ship’s Gloop Maker and ordered the Supply Officer to provide whatever materials were necessary for work to commence.

The little man asked for a strong block and tackle fitted up on the afterdeck, a small stool, a hammer and chisel, a portable furnace, a lump of iron measuring four meters by four meters, several kilograms of copper and several more of silver.

As the ship sailed, the little man set his stool alongside the huge chunk of iron, lit the furnace and began to melt down the copper and silver. Then, with much hammering and chiseling, he began to add blobs of copper and curlicues of silver to the sides of the lump of iron.

Each day crewmembers stopped and stared at the wondrously strange thing taking shape at the ship’s stern. But not wishing to appear ignorant, nobody asked the Gloop Maker what he actually was making.

“Coming along nicely,” said the captain as he made his daily rounds. “Any idea precisely when it will be –ah– ready?”

“Oh yes,” said the man. “At 1400 hours on July 15 we shall sail through the center of the Bermuda Triangle. That’s when it’ll be ready, and I’d like the crew assembled on deck at that hour, if you please, sir.”

And so, the great day dawned, the men assembled and the Gloop Maker put down his hammer and chisel. Proudly he stood back and indicated that the block and tackle should be lowered onto his masterpiece, whose copper and silver curlicues gleamed in the sun. Carefully he directed it to be lifted from the deck and swung round until it hung over the sea at the ship’s stern.

“Ready, steady, go!” he cried, and he cut it free. And, as it fell into the deep blue waters of the Atlantic, it went, . . . “GLOOP!”

Bob Levi says: I heard it around a campfire at YMCA camp some 50 or so years ago. Seems to me that the Coosh Maker got the iron ball red hot and dropped it over the side where it went “coosh.”

We have received more comments about this story than about many others. We all remember versions of this tale and it seems to strike a chord. We are very grateful for the documentation that people send us on these stories. I am betting that more versions exit than we have documented, so far. For example,

Greg Scott sent the following (and for which we thank him).

“When I heard this 40 years ago, from my Dad, it was the Bloop maker. Makes more sense this way, in my opinion.

“Also, the job-holder was a lazy benefactory of some sort of bureaucratic error in the Navy, perhaps and illegible rating on his seaman’s papers, or whatever. Likewise, the lazy fellow never did any work at all. He spent the or bartered the goods he requisitioned. Finally, defeated in a battle the ship was sinking, and a CWO grabs the fellow and says that he never worked, he never fought, and now, by golly (not the exact words, I’m sure), the ship’s Bloop maker is going to make some Bloop come hell or high water. So he proceeds to build his contraption, etc.

“I like the story much better this way, since the scam is more profound, and the disappointment of his audience is more palpable.”

Thanks, Greg.

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