Katherine Taylor scans the charms at her local Brighton Collectibles, searching for an “artist’s palette.” She and her daughter-in-law Kathleen wear matching bracelets, but she wants to add this charm to the others on Kathleen’s chain. What does the Life Is Art charm have to do with a poodle, a camera, another dog and a patriotic ribbon?
The bracelets commemorate the completion of their first book, Katherine explains to Jeannette, a Brighton sales partner. They show her a copy of Eddie and Bingo: A Friendship Tale, a children’s book illustrated by Kathleen and written by her and Katherine. It recounts the charming story of Kathleen’s father, Eddie McDonald, a Navy photographer who found a puppy aboard his aircraft carrier during the Korean War.
Eddie was a 19-year-old kid from Brooklyn, away from home for the first time. He was assigned to the USS Hornet, which was on its way from Pearl Harbor to Yokosuka, Japan, in 1951. During the “welcome aboard” ceremony, while the Captain addressed the sailors, he thought he saw a rat scampering around the deck of the carrier. When he realized it was a tiny puppy, he picked it up and hid it behind his back while the Captain wasn’t looking.
He and his shipmates managed to keep the puppy hidden for about two weeks. Whenever they talked about him, they referred to “Bingo,” which was the Captain’s favorite game. Just before the Hornet was to depart, however, the Captain’s wife came on board to say goodbye and brought her poodle with her. Bingo took off after the dog. Mrs. Captain was livid that a mutt was pursuing her prized pure-bred. The Captain told Eddie to get rid of Bingo before they left port.
He went into town and tried to find a home for Bingo. When a potential dog-sitter fell through at the last minute, however, he ended up bringing Bingo back to the Hornet. The crew erupted in cheers when they saw Bingo with Eddie, so the Captain allowed the guys to keep the dog during the journey to Japan.
“I didn’t find Bingo,” Eddie would later say, as he told the story to Kathleen. “Bingo found me. He was our guardian at sea.”
The puppy entertained the homesick men, relieving stress and lifting spirits. When Eddie and other shipmates would swab the deck, Bingo would run through the wet mopped areas, slipping and sliding, leaving paw prints everywhere. Sometimes he would climb into the mop bucket to cool off and take a bath. Often Bingo would hide, so Eddie put "dog tags" around his neck so the men could hear him moving around. Whenever Eddie aimed his camera towards him, Bingo would sit very still, almost as though he knew he was being photographed.