Abb Truett left school at Columbia to join the Navy in April 1917, when the United States entered World War 1.
An excerpt from “The Life Story of a lucky Tennessee Sailor that Lived to Retire” by Abb R. Truett:
After the war in 1919, I was honorably discharged from the Navy in New York City I began to look for a job there. There were thousands and thousands of ex-servicemen walking the street doing the same thing I was doing; looking for a job.
Days went into weeks, no job. I was hungry and disgusted. I was down to my last dime. I bought three bananas and went to a water fountain; that was my lunch. Then I was broke.
Then that afternoon an idea came to me. The Navy at City Park Barracks where I was discharged had about ten thousand sailors waiting to be mustered out. I had in my possession a general pass, signed by the Captain of the barracks, which I received long before I was discharged from the Navy. I had been assistant moving picture operator in the barracks. The Navy had two shows a week, so the chief operator and myself had to go
to Times Square twice a week to pick up these shows. The Captain of the barracks issued a general pass to the chief operator and myself. Now I had it made. I went to the Navy Y.М.С.A. on Sand Street in Brooklyn where I had my suitcase checked, took out my Navy uniform, and exchanged my civilian suit into my old uniform. I picked up my general pass and proceeded down Sand Street to the entrance of the Navy barracks where the officer of the day and a Navy guard were on duty. I saluted the officer on duty and showed my pass to the guard at the gate, passed on through and proceeded to the CHOW LINE. That food looked good to me, surpassing any food I ever sat down to. Some of the sailors located an empty bunk for me. I had a good nights sleep and got in the chow line the next morning for breakfast. After filling my craw with hot cakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, hash brown potatoes, and coffee, I was ready for the day. I went to the gate, showed my general pass and was on my way, looking for a job. I kept my uniform on, for in those days, if you were in uniform the two subway systems, the 1.R.T. and B.M.T., then passed uniform service men through the gates free. I did this for about a week,then I joined the Merchant Marines.