Of Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns

Of Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns
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Friday, August 5, 2011

Ever want to make a nail?  This is the way they were made for centuries. A lot of heat a pounding and a quench in water.  This is one of the nearly lost arts that is enthralling those of us who love such things. Heating hammering and forging bathed in heat an flame. Hot metal slowly cooling as hammering hardens the surface the metal is compacted, hardened and strengthened.   The world doesn't know it but it misses these disappearing arts. Never fear the day will come when they will be needed again.           Doug     Visit "The Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sailing Ships and Sailing Men

As a boy in the 1930's, I knew sailors. Most came home and swore off sailing ships for ever.
Drawn to a wild Baltimore waterfront life, they blew their wages on booze, women and gambling. They were shanghaied or signed onto a ship just to have a home for a time. It was not the sea they were drawn to, but instead, family.
A man, known to do his share high up on the yard arms, had respect.
On land, they were lowly and even tramps. Upon the sea, each a respected seamen! To stand his watch, furl canvas in rain and sleet then lend a hand on the bitter end of a sheet a new boy on board rose to man and mate.
Good people these, though not in a way most of us would recognise.
Among us modern sailboat sailors we may swagger and tell of hanging on with one hand and reefing a flogging sail with the other.
You could with effort, drag the same story from these square rig sailors, though they wouldn't say they were high in the air above mountainous waves reefing and tying as they rounded the notorious capes, driven by snowy squalls. To be 200 ft in the air in gale winds with a sails snapping and booming making every attempt to throw the watch to deck. Cut from heavy cloth, these men who worked, lived and died at sea.
A seaman I knew and was influenced by, was a Mr. Outabridge who fell from the main yard cracking his skull. He supervise the repair of it and inspired the character Doc in the Novel, Of Mooncursers and Other Spun Yarns By Douglas G. Pollard Sr. on sale @ Lulu.com .
My mothers brother Talmage Williams right after World War One was shanghaied aboard a sailing ship in to the far east. After a two year stint when his ship had not made a U.S. Port. He signed aboard a steam ship to Baltimore. Left in port at Tripoli where he had  gotten drunk and spent a couple weeks in jail for getting into a bar room brawl. That was his last duty under sail. Arriving home he lost his seaman's papers for a year for jumping ship. During world war two he stayed at sea almost constantly. He made the one and only Mermaske run through the North Sea hauling gasoline. They were close on the German coast and suffered bombings for several days. Talmage said they watch ships burning in the distance every night and all hands fully expected to die on that trip. IT was by luck that they were not attacked by German dive Bombers.
To find men like these today you have to look to our men fighting on the sands of the middle east. So, every Generation has it's men.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Last of the Pufferbellies in Dundalk

WE were at war! The Japanese had bombed Perl Harbor and Germany declared war. It was 1942! We were loosing the war in North Africa and we were being Driven back in the Pacific. We were melting down everything metal we could find. We kids collected aluminum pots and pans and turned them over to the fire department to be used in building airplanes.

The Baltimore News Post put a story on the front page that Steam locomotives would be towed to the steel mills to be melted down to build guns and ships. On that day hundreds of people walked down the streets to the railroad crossings to watch the locomotives being pulled through town.

America was well attached to it's steam locomotives. Lionel and American Flier toy trains were the most popular toys around every Christmas. Engineers were our heroes. We looked on steam railroads in aw.

There was more, we were watching the end of an era and everyone sensed it. It was also the approaching end of a way of life but we didn't sense that and it didn't come for may years. Our American love of machinery would one day become a love of cheap electronic toys. The highly skilled American craftsman was soon to be equated to the low level white collar worker.  The caftsman's skill and years of education and training was lost in a single generation.

Only thirty years later another long line of machinist, mill wrights, tool makers and die makers all tramped there way to big box stores to greet customers.

The pride of a nation, the machinery that provisioned a war on two fronts and overcame odds that the whole world thought America would succumb to was sold to the Chinese for pennies. We have been reduced to making electronic toys and calling this failure, progress.

Today we send our children to get a degree and become nothing more than specialized word smiths. Few thus educated have the ability to think outside the narrow area of their study.

It is the experienced mechanical Engineer that has gone with the machinery. The kids come out of college knowing nothing of real know how and there is no factory to gain the needed experience to become a truly qualified engineers. They don't even know they are lacking.

The Locomotives were only the first to go. Our lessor Gods, the production line would follow.

Our Children are educated to look back on those years of the assembly line worker as the dirty industrial years. Of course they were the years where America earned it's wealth to give our youth their educations. God Bless mass production.

I am sometimes accused of thinking outside the box. I reply, "It is not so.  I just have a bigger box than they."


Monday, March 14, 2011