While Roy Christen delights his retired neighbors with tall tales of life in their community, the stories from his time as a Navy torpedoman in WWII are anything but.
“When you get to be this age, it’s not that it’s hard to find something to laugh at,” said Holly Creek Retirement Community resident Lois Donahue. “But it doesn’t happen that often.”
So, at 92 years old, Christensen found his time to make others laugh.
“I like to write a little spoof about where I live here because people seem to get a charge out of it,” he said.
“They’re always great,” said Donahue. “He just has a good way of telling things.”
He writes about all the excitement at the Holly Creek Retirement Community - with a little exaggeration.
“Our Pesky Emergency Responder Alarms,” is the title of one, written after the fire alarms kept going off while Roy was in compromising places.
“One morning I’m shaving,” Roy reads. “Wowwee, the walls started shaking…If you get caught in the shower when these alarms go off, for heaven's sake, don’t use any Kleenex to plug your ears. I tried this once, they became very wet, fell out of my ears, and almost plugged the drain!”
The stories go on. He wrote another about a Coyote alert when “his early morning sleep was shattered.”
He has so many it’s hard to imagine the time he couldn’t tell them.
“We didn’t have time to be funny about anything,” said Christensen. "I’ll tell you we were doing something all the time.”
Just before his 18th birthday, Christensen volunteered for the Navy’s submarine service. He became a torpedoman on the USS Raton.
Time mattered down to the second then, as the Japanese sent depth charges into the ocean to try to destroy the U.S. submarines.
“And we all would count one thousand one, one thousand two, and if you could get to one thousand 10 you probably were safe before it exploded, but if you didn’t get to one thousand 10, you just wouldn’t be around to be counting anymore,” he said.
Not exaggerating, this was real life during WWII.
“You don’t find submariners really talking too much about what their past was because it was bizarre,” he said.
He doesn’t say much about it, and his other stories only have clues about his past, but when a new submarine, the USS Colorado, sets out to sea next year, he’ll be there.
He considers it an honor to be invited.
“It means a lot to a person that went through it,” Christensen said, tearing up.