Having crossed the equator six times in 23 years I can say for sure that "Crossing the Line" was more than a simple ceremony. Starting the day before the "Line" is reached it continues through the Next day.The uninitiated called "Slimy Polywogs"are assigned a uniform of the day which is ruined before the thing is over. We were roused at 0400, our breakfast served, a totally unedible mess that went intotrash cans along with the past few days galley garbage. We wore dungarees inside out and backwards and skivvy shirts, no hat required. We were ordered to take the garbage cans topside starboard mid ships and leave them. The Shellbacks had removed the ends from laundry sacks and secured them about 6" above the deck with 21 thread. These sacks were filled with garbage that had been brought up on deck. We pollywogs were not allowed topside after the garbage was delivered. Around 1000 the ships bell was rung to indicate the arrival of a senior officer or dignitary and we were ordered to fall in on the port side aft, we were herded through inboard passageways so we knew not what faced us. Everyone was given a chance to forgo the ceremony and all were assured by the CO that no harm or accident would befall them. The Old Man was a Pollywog and wore his trousere inside out and backward so he could participate. Two members, an officer and an enlisted refused to participate and were taken below decks so they could not even see the ceremony. Davy Jones came aboard from our motor whale boat and found the ship unworthy to cross the Line. He ordered the Shellbacks to "Clean the Ship" and was escorted aft. The Shellbacks were all in costume and had wips of various materials at their sides. They lined up around the lifelines from Port Midships around the bow to Aft where the garbage chutes were placed. Fire hoses and 3" lines had been loosly woven across the walkways and we were sprayed down with the fire nozzles set on spray. We crawled up the deck, up and over these hurdles while being beat with those wips, quite painful at times. We reached the Chute where we crawled through the garbage to come out on the fantail where a Royal Court awaited us. There was a large canvas dip tank that we were thrown in and when we came up for air were asked what "What are You?". If we answered pollywog we were shoved under because we were not welcome, if we answered shellback we were shoved under because we were not initiated yet. We finally were taken out and brought to the "Royal Doctor" where we injested a bitter lime drink from a huge syringe. Next we met a "Royal Barber", had our face rubben in a mixture of mustard, catsup and GOD only knows what else that was spread on the "Fat Mans" belly. We finally crawled over to the "Royal Cour" and were found worthy by "Davey Jones". At last we went to the showers and could put on clean clothing to go to the upper decks and watch the rest go through the ceremony. The most senior Shellback is the acting Neptune and he has a large entourage with him when he came aboard after' the mess had been cleaned up' and found the ship and crew worthy to cross. He did speak with disgust of the two "Slimy Pollywogs" below decks and found them unworthy to be called Crew Men. The CO had gone First but the other officers were mixen in with the crew during initiation. The two who refused were shunned by the crew and their life was miserable from that day on. They begged to be initiated when we recrossed but having had one chance they would not get another on that ship. I am proud of my cards and certificates and participated as a Shellback in the next two crossings then stood watch so others could participate during my last three crossings. I have many photos of the ceremony if anyone is interested.