Monday, April 14, 2014

New in the Library: Ships' altars

(by Heather Hernandez, Technical Services Librarian)

Cover of the Library's copy
A very rare pamphlet on Ships' altars and church spaces on Hamburg-American & North German Lloyd ships is now available in the Library.  Chiefly illustrations of the ships' worship spaces, this small volume of twelve pages published in 1935 also outlines the services available to passengers and crew:

To see more, just contact us!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Digging for Gold at the Library: Poetry in the Archives

(by Gina Bardi, Reference Librarian)

It’s National Poetry Month and I bet you thought I was going to talk about the Rime of the Ancient Mariner or something by John Masefield.  While that would be wholly appropriate it would also be something you have most likely seen before, perhaps even here.  As the purpose of my installments is to dig for things buried deep in the collections for you to see, I had a much better idea. I went into our archives and pulled some poems written by various seafarers and passengers for your enjoyment.  As opposed to the stereotypical idea of a sailor as somewhat brutish and dull, many sailors were curious, intelligent and in tune with the natural world; after all, they depended on a deep knowledge of not just the sea but what was going both above and below it to survive. They had long stretches to contemplate the world around them and their connection to it. It’s no wonder some of them turned to. For instance, here’s a poem by Captain Roy Moyes from HDC 235 (SAFR 17110) expressing the feelings of being becalmed both literally and figuratively.


                Only the sea, motionless in calm
                Only the hope of a stirring breeze;
                There’s naught, but the depth’s alluring charm,
                Rippling reflections in placid seas-
                Only the sails and the dawning sun.
                Only the loss of the foaming run.
                Yet, deep in the soul the sea reflects
                In the light of questing, seeking thoughts
                The cause of its wonderful objects
                The gale, the calm, the loneliness wrought.
                All is still; there is no when, or how-
                Only the presence of the now.

                The day drifts on, and at evening fall
                Golden painted clouds drift idly by:
                The sea lies still; and over it all
                The awe of silence reigns far and nigh.
                Patient we must be, whole darkness hides
                The ship and our fate on the still tides.

Moyes was once the captain of our very own Balclutha, when she was called the Pacific Queen.  Born in Australia to no seafaring parents, Moyes left home at 14 to start a career in the sea, working his way from ordinary seaman to captain. His time spent at sea must have given him much inspiration, for he wrote over 80 poems, many of them long form.  As far as I can tell, none have been published. 

One of my favorite lighter ones is a toast I found written on a scrap of paper in HDC 833, SAFR 8451, The Captain Peter Petersen Papers. Written at the top of the torn sheet is “This poem Miss Bradley had readen (sic) on the bottle when the skiff was launched this summer after she had painted it.”

                Here’s to Peter the Great
                May you ever sail in state
                Should your mistress have a date
                Be sure you’re never late

Image of the manuscript containing the toast

Scribbling on scraps seems to be a popular method of capturing a fleeting poem. We can’t be sure who this was written by, but it was found in the Walter W. Taylor Papers (HDC 1454, SAFR 21896). Taylor (or someone else) took a poem by C. Fox Smith entitled “Racing Clippers: A Wool Fleet Memory” and changed it to make it more personal.

Here’s the text of the Taylor collection poem:

                There ain’t no racin’ clippers now. Nor never will be again.
                And most o’ the ships are gone by now, the same as most of the men.
                Like the ships that made a forest on the ‘Frisco waterside
                The slashing big four masters from the Mersey on the Clyde
                An the Yankee sky’s’l yarders with their plankin’ scoured like snow
                loading grain at ‘Frisco,-- Forty years ago

Image of the manuscript

Another one found in the Taylor collection echoes the above poem with a lament of leaving the sea behind.

                When I was a boy I strolled
                around while the ships were
                outward bound.
                I had no tin to pay for
                gin so I just strolled
                My coat was out at the elbows
                I was hungry and footsore
                So I joined aboard a
                full rigged ship called the
                No more will I go to the sea
                or roam the Western ocean
                a rolling and a bolling
                no more I ever will
                no more will I go to sea
                or roam the western ocean
                As long as I live I’ll stay
                on shore and go to sea more
                no more will I haul on a
                lee fore brace, or by those
                halyards stand.
                no more will I cry as
                aloft I fly with a tar pot
                in my hand.
No more will I swing on
                the big main yard or
                walk the capstan round.
                No more will I trim the
                royals while running the
                Easting down.

 I mentioned passengers as being poets and boy, do I have a doozy of an example for you. In 1849, an unidentified author set sail from Norfolk to San Francisco on the bark the John L. Colley (HDC 27, SAFR 13573). This passenger found the journey so disagreeable, that he wrote a 17 page screed  in verse against the captain, of whom he says, “He was the  mildest manner’d man who ever scuttled ship or cut a throat”.  Here’s the title page so you can see he means business:

Image of the manuscript

That’s a 0 star review if I ever heard one.

I’ll be writing a longer piece about poems in our collection for our website, so be on the lookout. As always, if you’d like to look at any of these poems or the many more in our collection, drop me a line

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Full fathom five my novel lies

(by Heather Hernandez, Technical Services Librarian)

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we're sharing a recently discovered poem by A. Poppet-Turning.  Devoted readers will remember this poet's Stack Fever, and despite our best efforts, we know nothing about the poet except that work and this newly discovered one, both found tucked into the Library's copy of English maritime books printed before 1801, apparently used as bookmarks.

Clearly a parody of Shakespeare's "Full Fathom Five" (read more about it in our initial blog post), this poem nevertheless conveys the heartbreak experienced by many a maritime reader--seeing your book vanish in "the drink!"

Happy National Poetry Month, and happy April 1!

Full fathom five my novel lies
It fell overboard--just rolled off my thighs!
Nothing of it that did float,
But soaking up water, its pages did bloat
Into something swollen and sunken.
A mystery novel, I should have held tight
But instead on this boat, with it did alight,
And this voyage I must now complete without it,
Not knowing at all if the butler did it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Happy birthday Rudolph Diesel

(by Heather Hernandez, Technical Services Librarian)

On this day, March 18, in 1858 Rudolph Christian Karl Diesel was born in Paris.

Diesel in 1883 (credit: Wikipedia)

What does he have to do with the collections of San Francisco Maritime NHP?  He invented the diesel engine!  Sure, our collections are strong in wind-powered ships and boats, but without Diesel's invention, would we have such rich archival collections, artifact, or library collections?  Certainly not!  Plans, technical manuals, and histories--from pleasure boats to cargo ships--all with Diesel's invention at their heart.  Celebrate Diesel's birthday today by exploring diesel power in our maritime collections.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Maritime Metaphors: In memory of Tim Przygocki

(by Lisbit Bailey, Archivist and Pop Music Aficionado)

In Memory of Timothy Przygocki
7 October 1948 to 19 February 2014

Portrait of Tim, 1970s

Tim moved to San Francisco in 1972. Captivated by the historic full-rigged ship Balclutha, he made historic ship preservation his passion and career. He started as a volunteer for the San Francisco Maritime Museum and worked his way up to Historic Ship Rigger.

His unique skills lead to many interesting jobs which included serving on the crew of the replica ship Golden Hinde in 1979 when she sailed to Japan for the filming of the miniseries Shogun. Tim and other crew members acted as extras in the film.

Tim became a National Park Service employee when the Balclutha and the Maritime Museum were transferred to federal stewardship.

Portrait of Tim in NPS uniform, 1990s
In his NPS uniform in the 1990s

In the mid-1990s, Tim started his second career at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park as the Safety and Hazardous Materials Manager. The many years he worked on the historic ships gave him a clear understanding of the complex and dangerous work involved in historic ship preservation. He was as passionate about taking care of his fellow employees and park visitors as he was about the ships.

Tim retired from the National Park Service in September 2010.

Tim and his 1979 Spider Veloce, in 2012
Tim and his 1979 Spider Veloce, in 2012
Tim is greatly missed by his family and his many friends near and far.

You can read his obituaries at the Mishawaka High School Class of 1968 site (MS Word format only), and until the end of March 2014 also in the San Francisco Chronicle and the SouthBend Tribune.

In honor of Tim’s life, I’ve selected a song to share here on Maritime Metaphors called Sailboats.  This beautiful and moving song was written by Adam R. Young who is Sky Sailing. It was released 27 July 2010. The album is titled An Airplane Carried Me to Bed.


Sailboats wish that they were stars
Floating softly in the sky
Among our dreams that bid goodbye
Moving through transparent space
Drifting through the stratosphere
And onward 'til they disappear

These continents from overhead
Look like tiny paper shapes
Intricately set in place
Below the misty mountain clouds
There's a lovely silver bay
Where sunset sailors often hideaway

Scuba diver in the loch
Speedboat driver on the dock
Sailplane pilot in the blue
Take me up there with you
The world looks brighter
From this high altitude

I was walking through the trees
(Sailboats wish that they were stars)
And I was swimming through the seas
('Cause they don't know who they are)

I was falling through the air
When it hit me right there
My eyes are tired, I don't even care

An airplane carried me to bed
Where I slept above the coast
And dreamt I had become a ghost
I sail above the frozen peaks
Deep in cold cathedral caves
Across the hills and far beyond the waves

Take the car on the run
Fly the jet to the sun
And bring the spacecraft in soon
While I play chess with the moon
I feel like sleeping
Through this cold afternoon

Once in 1964
(Sailboats wish that they were stars)
An actress ran on the shore
('Cause they don't know who they are)

And though you'll never return
I love you, Audrey Hepburn
Sometimes I can see your face in the crowd

There are sailboats throughout this brilliant sky
But you cannot pick them out if you can't fly
I'm glad the earth doesn't care if I go up there
If you want to just ask me and I'll take you along

In recognition of Tim’s early days with the organization that became San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, I’ve selected 6 items from the Park’s Museum Collection including 3 drawings, 2 paintings and 1 poster of the Park’s Historic Fleet circa 1970:

SAFR 526, painting, Golden Hynde off Point Reyes, California, being towed in calm waters, 1977

SAFR 19313, painting, Balclutha at San Francisco's  Fisherman's Wharf dock, seen broadside from starboard, partly obscured by Pier 43 1/2 gate building in foreground, circa 1965-1985

SAFR 15404, drawing, Alma, port stern quarter view of vessel under sail, 1972

SAFR 19345, drawing, Wapama, port broadside view of 1915 steam schooner WAPAMA during the 1970's 

SAFR 19732, painting, Eppleton Hall, bow port quarter view of tug in San Francisco Bay, with Golden Gate Bridge in far background. Painted entirely in blue, 1970’s

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Exhibit: Women Who Changed Maritime History

(by Heather Hernandez, Technical Services Librarian)

Captain and Mrs. G. T. Peterson aboard C. A. Thayer, San Pedro Harbor (near Los Angeles, CA), December, 1905.
NPS, SAFR D9.7883n
During the month of March, the Park is celebrating Women's History Month with many programs and a special exhibit in the Visitor's Center, "Women Who Changed Maritime History."  High quality selections from the Park's photographic collections illustrate maritime women throughout history, in this free exhibit, open seven days a week.

While you're there, explore the permanent Waterfront Exhibit where you can see many of the Park's artifacts on display as well as seeing our beautiful first order Fresnel lighthouse lens.  For more free fun, ask the helpful staff at the desk to give you directions to the Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building--our Maritime Museum--where even more of our collections are on display.  Take the time for a walk on the Hyde Street Pier as well, to see the ships, on which many of these women made history.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SF History Expo, Mar. 1-2, 2014

(by Heather Hernandez, Technical Services Librarian)

Page from the Pangburn journal, kept aboard the Nautilus (HDC 59)

Join us at the San Francisco History Expo this weekend!  Collections staff will be bringing real artifacts and many high quality reproductions of archival materials that you can see up close, creating one of more than fifty "mini-museums" at the Old Mint.  Don't miss seeing the working model of the Park's scow schooner Alma, and learning about Gold Rush ships.

If you're on Facebook, you can rsvp to our event--we hope we'll see you there!