Monday, July 21, 2008

Family History, Part 1

Several years ago, my father-in-law shared with me a notebook that was written by his grandfather. Transcribed for my FIL's aunts by friends of the family, it is currently typewritten on an onion skin paper in a 3-ring binder.

A sailor from Norway who had some tall sailor tales to tell. I found his stories utterly charming and fascinating...and I'm assured by the family they are true.

So in the spirit of sharing...and to get me out of a serious "I miss my kitty" funk - let us begin.


This is an honest attempt at bringing your father's written manuscript to better reading form. Actually, as it has turned out, it is really a good "draft".

We received pleasure and many laughs throughout the story. There were also touches of sadness, the many hardships he had to endure at such an early age. His spelling and vocabulary were exceptional for a man without formal education. His appreciation for our Country was touching. He said and did many cute things. He had a THING about page 75, there were about 6 of them in the original manuscript 75, 75 1/2, 75 1/4, 74 3/8. Where he said "meself" and it sounded cute, we left it. Many words and names were unfamiliar to us but we did our best under the circumstances.

Merry Christmas and Happy Reading!
Peggy and Agnes



About the year 1908 I was in charge of Mr. H. A. Morris' yacht. One day he came on board to go sailing and he had two young ladies with him. Before we got started Mr. Morris said, "You are to tell us your life story and if you don't we will leave you ashore."

"Well", I said, "you just go ahead and sail without me. I don't know of anything of interest to tell you."

"You should have one story at least."

Then he started to ask questions. "How old were you when you started to go to sea?"

"I was about 14 years old," I replied.

"Where did you sail to?", and so forth, and then drawing me on until I came to the part about Quebec, Canada where I ran away from my ship, was captured and put in jail on the Plains of Abraham for safekeeping, and all my doings while there. Then he asked me if I wrote to my Mother about being in jail. I said no, but when I arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and wrote my Mother I said I was sorry I hadn't written before becuase I had a sore finger.

All at once the two ladies started to cry and tears were running down their faces. Mr. Morris took a look at them, turned to me and said, "Damn you sailors for telling yarns like that."


Chapter One
This is How it Began and Who Knows How it Will End

I must have had salt water in my blood as far back as I can remember. There were always models and paintings of ships and real sailing vessels of all types. The early memory I have of ships was when my cousin Gustaf Foero came to our house and told my Mother that my Father's ship was entering the Stavanger Fjord and got her permission to take me with him. Off we went in a hurry to get a rowboat. We then rowed out to meet a big sailing vessel coming in. The sailors were beginning to take in some sails. It was a beautiful sight to see.

Houses along the Stavanger Fjord

"There is your Father on the Poop Deck", Gustaf said, and my Father waved to us to come alongside. A ladder was put over the side and I was helped up and into my Father's arms. I had never seen my Father before, but I had a glorious time. He showed me a big model of a ship he had made for me, and as the ship was bound in from the Mediterranian I had oranges and nuts to eat. The ships name was "Haugesund". It was one of the ships he commanded.

There was anotehr he had before called "Fredon". Then there was another called "Walborg". Another Bark later on was partically wrecked but he managed to sail her into a Northern town called Aslesund on the coast of Norway and there rests her timbers now.

It was in the late winter of 1889 or perhaps it was 1890 in the town of Stavanger, Norway. I was then 14 or 15 years of age. I had a job in a furniture store. I did not like it very much. I wanted to sail the seas as my father was doing. I amde the rounds of the shipping offices looking for a job as a Deck Boy but I had no success. One told me I was a Captain's son, I did not need a job as a lot of worse off boys, and it was not until some friends of ours spoke for me to a shipping master named Helland that I got started as Deck Boy on a Bark named "Ferda" which was about to sail.

My mother knew about my determination to make the sea my lifes' work so she gave in. I had a couple of days to get ready and rig myself up with sea boots and oilskins. My uncle Faroe gave me a heavy coat that one of his sailors had left behind him in his ship. That evening, aboard the ship, I rigged meself out in my new sailor outfit and went ashore to show the town that "here comes a sailor".

To be continued...

1 comment:

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What a gift this is to your family.