Bits & Pieces... by David Sundman

Snorter Notes

"Short Snorter" is a strange term that may be familiar to some of our servicemen and servicewomen collectors, but a mystery to most of us. On the origin of the term, various accounts exist. One reports "This tradition began during World War I, heightened during World War II, and was carried on into the Korean War. A 'snorter' is a drink of liquor, usually swallowed in one quick gulp. A 'short snorter' is a drink of liquor that's not quite full. This term was adopted by the soldiers as the nickname for these notes."

A serviceman's short snorter was a ribbon of paper currency, scotch taped end-to-end, from all the countries they had visited. Long short-snorters also meant free drinks at the bar, since the person with the shortest one had to buy the round for everyone present. The roll of notes could be used to keep phone numbers, or to get signatures of famous people. It was not unusual to have a 10-foot long "short snorter," and some were more than 30 feet in length, with bills from more than 50 countries. (At that length, he never had to buy a drink!)

[image: Short Snorter note]

This "Short Snorter" illustrated is very short indeed, being one note, with no evidence of having been scotch taped. The notation shows this one began in Sydney, Australia, went to La Tontouta (New Caledonia), then on the next day to Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. I can make out sixteen names in all on the note that begins "Sydney-Tontouta 5 Nov 43 Short Snorter R.J. Fowle, Capt. Guadalcanal 11/6/43." This note was started about 9 months after the first Naval Battle of Guadacanal in November 1942 (August 6, 1942 to February 21, 1943). It was at Guadalcanal where the U.S. "Island hopping" campaign began, ending with victory in August 1945. This really is "history you can hold in your hand." Perhaps this "short snorter" belonged to a valiant U.S. serviceman who did not make it back home. Or perhaps it is a happy souvenir that did return safely home with its owner. In any case, I am keeping it safe in the Littleton Coin Collection, as a reminder of those difficult days, and of the wartime contribution of what many recognize as the "greatest generation."