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No, “southern juice” is not a nautical expression bowsprite left off her recent illustrated vocabulary instruction; rather, it’s the radiant machine below.  For a tanker built a quarter century go, Southern Juice moves as a thing of beauty, (I’ll say it), like a woman whose presence intensifies as she ages, she who dazzles and delights in her 40s and beyond.  (OK, I said it, and really what scintillates is the fusion of her contentment/good maintenance/my perception.)  In this last hour before sunset, I set down my water–even though my throat was parched–just because studying this vessel of an impossible color demanded undivided attention.  The juice tanker’s back in town, bringing Brazilian sunshine and irrepressible smiling in the dark time.

ok, OK.  I’ve long ‘fessed up to my drinking habit.  I need orange juice morning, noon, night . . . and then even in the middle of the night when I make my 3 a.m. surfacing.

Juice tankers going global represents a human activity occupying just the thinnest of slices in time.  Did juice transport begin in the 70s?  60s?  I’ve no clue.  But it does remind me of other commodity transport that no longer exists, like

the ice trade:  slabs of lake ice cut by gangs, packed in sawdust first in barns and then later in wooden ships, and ultimately sailed to tropical ports so that colonials stationed in the sweaty climes could have ice cubes in their punch.    And then there was a time of milk trains, a term I knew of from the farm boy perspective and therefore only partially understood, imagined from the supply side.  And hay schooners (scroll down to first foto) coming into metropolises to feed the transporters.  Were there manure boats too . . . or was it assumed the sixth boro could process that, satiating the oysters and sturgeon?

Now we have congested highways and road rage!  In 2109, probably no more juice tankers.  Will milk trains return?  And when might road rage dissipate?  And maybe I need to move to a locale where I can tend my own orange grove . . . now that’s an idea.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Seriously:  can anyone suggest a person to contact to arrange a visit to Port Newark and an offloading juice tanker?  Really, it’s the SECOND highest priority experience I’d like the fat ageless elf to arrange for me.

And just an idea:  if one dog year equals seven human years, then how many human years correspond to one ship year?  If the answer is–arbitrarily chosen–two, then the beautiful Southern Juice is at the half century mark.  Hmm.

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December 2009