I’ll never claim to know all the sixth boro stories although I’ve chosen as a goal to hear more of them. Savannah has a great waterfront story. See if you can figure it out from this set of fotos; I will explain at the end of post. Call this . . . what’s Flo Mar’s tale? Call her Florence Martus, if you want, and click here for the spoiler if you wish, but indulge me and see the fotos first. She did get a Liberty ship named for her. Be a sport, and follow the fotos.
She waves at Hoechst Express, whose crew wave back, as do
crew on YM Los Angeles, once they see what they’re seeking.
So is it the friendly waterfront, the large hotel windows convenient for … er … flashing, accidental or intentional, something else? But anyhow, crews seemed vigilant
binoculars at the ready to find waving folk,
waving girls maybe,
and then they wave back with exuberance no matter the ship.
Crew of Morning Chorus not only waved but also shouted audible new year’s greetings to lubbers reveling alongshore.
So Savannah’s hospitality has gotten enshrined. So the story of Flo Mar, as reported in Savannah & the Georgia Coast by Jim Morekis goes like this:
“Beginning at age 19, Flo Mar–who actually lived a few miles downriver on Elba Island–took to greeting every passing ship with a wave of a handkerchief by day and a lantern at night, without fail for the next 40 (plus) years. Ship captains would often return the greeting with a salute of their own on the ship’s whistle, and word spread all over the world of the beguiling woman who waited on the balcony of that lonely house.
Was she looking for a sign of a long lost love who went to sea and never returned? Was she trying to get a handsome sea captain to sweep her off her feet and take her off that little island? No one knows for sure.”
Now I began by denying expertise about New York stories, and harbor folk surrounding the sixth boro may very well have characters as compelling as Flo Mar. I just don’t know them. Anyone throw out some names? Of course, New York does have a very impressive waving girl of its own aka Lady Liberty, as I wrote about here.
One of my favorite New York City novels begins to enlarge the intriguing truth of a failed writer named Herman Melville working out his last days as a night (the insignificant shift) customs inspector in the harbor. Melville actually held this post for 19 years starting around 1866. The novel, The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch, is a great read if you’re trying to see the sixth boro of another era.