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I’m thrilled to discover entirely new stories, like this one, which I found after following up some info I’d seen on a historical marker sign in Bath, NC, a month ago. Click here and scroll to see the historical marker. I saw it briefly in the headlights but took no photos.
When I googled “floating theater bath nc,” I learned a book had been written about this barge and immediately ordered a copy of the book, where I got the stories, including the one about “G-string” shows, which I’ll explain at the end of this post. I guarantee you’ll be surprised. Click here for some details about Prof. Gillespie’s process in writing the book.
James Adams used two tugs–Elk and Trouper— to move the “floating theater” from town to town in the Chesapeake and the estuarial fingers of North Carolina back in the days when movie theaters and certainly mass entertainment penetrated into all the hamlets and backwaters of this portion of the US.
Although I’d never heard of this entertainment in the backwaters where I was born, it’s fairly well covered with blogposts like this and newspaper articles like this. The Chesapeake Log has done a story. In fact, there’s a group that wishes to recreate the barge.
Needless to say, any project on the water always faces this danger from its element, among other perils.
Between venues, Elk and Trouper would tow the barge, like horses moving the old time traveling carnival to the next town.
Now about “G-string” shows . . . From page 63 of the book, “there were three primary comic characters in the repertoire theater . . .[one was the G-string character], an old man, the geezer. He was evolved from the 19th century comic Yankee character, sometimes with a dose of the frontiersman thrown in. … squeaky male voice and a goatee-like beard. The cartoon Uncle Sam is a G-string character.” I’ve looked online for other references to this meaning of G-string . . . with no corroboration.
Who knew? Edna Ferber and her Showboat . . . which I don’t know well . . . I thought that was based on Mississippi traffic. The sixth boro and the Hudson have their very own Lehigh Valley 79 Showboat Barge as in here, here, and here. There was once the floating entertainments of Periwinkle and Driftwood . . . now all gone.And the whole eastern seaboard has Amara Zee . . . (scroll) Caravan Stage Company.
I think it’s high time Edna Ferber’s story gets reinterpreted as a movie, this time including Elk and Trouper.
Click on the image below and enjoy the music. Come out and hear this traditional American music by the Paradise Mountain Boys–and stories about the port of New York history this coming Thursday night in Red Hook. Details here.
I hope you listened to the song above. Here’s the kicker: the band is from Norway. Here’s their take on “Man of constant sorrow,” one of my favorites.
For the Red Hook connection, here’s Lars Nilsen, co-chairman of the Norwegian Immigrant Association, “One hundred plus years ago, Red Hook ( including what is now Carroll Gardens ) was the center of a hard-working maritime-related Norwegian speaking community of about 10,000 people.” And here’s a thought from John Weaver, son-in-law of Alf Dryland, deceased Captain of PortSide NewYork’s flagship Mary A. Whalen “Norwegians in America playing Blue Grass music! If Alf Dyrland were still with us, he would be smiling. Every new adventure is the continuation of his dream come true. He would be proud of the heritage celebrated and future welcomed aboard his Mary Whalen. Thank you PortSide NewYork.”
Click here for Rick “old salt” blog’s take on this event.
Here are a few of the many posts I’ve done on PortSide NewYork.
Unrelated, here’s another unlikely interpretation of American bluegrass performed at South by Southwest.
I hope it ends soon. Of course, ice is just a part of the sixth boro cycle. See the ice photos here from 2009. Enjoy these shots from the last day of February 2015. But for the hot days sure to come later this year, how about this tall tale of Meagan Ann traveling through the icebergs of New York. In her early years, Meagan Ann operated in Alaskan waters.
APL Coral . . . Oakland, CA-registered, must be named for cold water species.
The Bravest heads out on cold water patrol. See more about Bravest in this article by Peter Marsh.
M/V Miss Ellis, built by Blount in 1991, has likely used ice before today to scrape growth from its hull.
North River . . . has sludge to move around the harbor.
Zim QingDao appeared previously–with a surprise on the bridge wing–here.
And these ferries keep running despite the ice.
Molinari sets up the ultimate sixth boro tall tale image, beautifully created by Scott Lobaido.
I saw the image below on the ferry, and if you want it, you can order it here. I’ve never met Scott, but I love this lithograph.
All photos by Will Van Dorp.
Spirit of America . . . operates as an icon among icons.
I need to force myself to look hard to see the obvious differences between Spirit and S. I. Newhouse, and others.
Recently, though, Spirit has intruded into my photos more than any other one of the ferries.
Molinari . . .
John F. Kennedy and Spirit . . .
Either Newhouse or Barberi . . .
Positively identified as Newhouse.
And this is the old terminal, actually called Battery Maritime Building and unofficially the Governors Island ferry terminal today. And how’s the progress on its roof? What’s going on there? Read all about it here and here. Glass boxes seem currently in vogue in NYC.
Click on the image below to see Battery Maritime Building and more of the sixth boro almost a century ago.
For info on all the classes of Staten Island ferries, present and past, click here.
All photos by Will Van Dorp, except the nighttime photo by Seth Tane.
And finally . . . here’s a bowsprite image used in a marinelink.com article without credit! And by bowsprite’s report, she’s received no response from marine link.com when she’s contacted them about . . . crediting her art. Hmmmm… See her original published image from four years earlier here.
If you ever drive eastbound on Staten Island’s northern “land edge” route aka Richmond Terrace, you’ve probably seen this mural by Ian Kelleher. The other day I stopped for a closer look and noticed
a delightful additional spoke on Bayonne’s windmill–harkening back about 400 years–and a huge upside-down unicycle just west of the ferry racks.
When I approached the ferry terminal, I noticed some wheel hardware beginning to accumulate.
Keep your eyes on this location . . . things could be happening soon. By the way, notice there are details of ships hidden in the background of the three previous photos, speaking to the proximity of the Eye . . . or Wheel . . . to shipping channels.
All photos by Will Van Dorp.
Care for a shot of Melville? ““Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries–stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.”
Paraphrase that a bit, take liberties, and you might come up with: “When you gallivant, chances are you’ll end up in the water.” If Melville were around the sixth boro these days, he might add something about the likelihood of seeing folks with digital cameras and–if among those gallivants there’s a bowsprite–inks/charcoal pencils too.
The whale lives
here, 100 miles plus east of the sixth boro’s easternmost reaches and if you go
up these stairs marked by a rendering of the orange ferry John F. Kennedy, you’ll
see this . . . 38 pieces of bowsprit’s art on display.
The exhibit called “Working Girls of New York Harbor” is up now til the end of May.
And if you feel a thirst that water fails to quench, the exhibit is located one floor above stainless steel vats filled with thousands of gallons of fermenting, living brews.
Here’s the front of the exhibit postcard, with evidence that bowsprite has turned her gaze and inked what she saw in increasingly distant waters.
Oh . . and the opening’s tonight in Greenport. Gotta run. More Greenport soon.
All photos here by Will Van Dorp.
In my favorite field guide to birds, there’s a section devoted to “exotics,” species you may observe in the Northeast but which are not indigenous to this region; some of these birds got here as stowaways and others are pets escaped or released into the wild. As I think about “tugster: the project,” I imagine an exotic category as well. There is tjalk Livet here and here (scroll through). Also, there is Golden Re’al here.
And what this has to do with the card below will become evident. First, notice the vessel name Marine Trader, the second word “bumboat” in the subtitle, and name of the president, father to the author.
Click the photo below and scroll through to see info on the man in the 1921 Chevy AND his connection to the vessel below.
Which leads me to this exotic.
The port of registry painted on the stern AND the landmarks in the background will locate these photos.
That bell is from neither New York nor Duluth.
But the helm seems vintage late 1930s.
The repurposed interior is warm and light. Click here to compare the current art studio interior with what it used to be in Duluth.
Here was 16, and I’m asking again my questions about the last foto in that post . . . .
So here is this installment’s odds and ends. First . . . in the second minute of Woody Allen’s 1979 movie Manhattan . . . there’s this clip. Can anyone identify?
And . . . a foto taken not quite a thousand nautical miles from the sixth boro quite a while ago by a jaunty mariner who can’t be too careful . . . it’s LT-805 General Winfield Scott towing the IX-514 that later turned up in the sixth boro. I’ve no idea if the HLT towed here remains local as of this writing.
And finally . . . another set from Seth Tane taken in New York harbor in the late 1970s/early 80s . . . it’s Harwich-built 1890s Thames sailing barge Ethel, 84′ loa. According to former owner Capt. Neal E. Parker, the vessel, built originally as a linseed carrier and brought across the Atlantic for the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal, was haunted. “She was fighting to die,” he said, and after an unsuccessful attempt as a charter vessel in downeast Maine, she returned to New London, where around 1992, she sank at the dock and waited happily to be dismembered and removed by a clamshell crane.
I’d love to hear more about Ethel from anyone who saw her back 30 years ago.
Thanks to Seth and the jaunty mariner for use of their fotos.
I’m excited to be doing another showing of Graves of Arthur Kill tonight. I hope to sell some copies, but I also look forward to hearing others’ stories of visiting the marine scrapyard over on the Arthur Kill.
Over the years i’ve done two series of blogposts on the yard: the ghosts series and the graveyard series. Another way of viewing the place is as disintegration. Enjoy these fotos and then I’ll explain where in a perfect world with endless resources I’d like to go next.
So I’d be thrilled if I could work with someone who could do time lapse simulation like this and this. I’d take a vessel like Hila aka ATR-89 from the time it arrived at the yard, and project its progressive disintegration over about a century.
Meanwhile, we have our imaginations. By the way, we’re selling the video also at Noble Maritime, all proceeds going to the museum.
All fotos here by Will Van Dorp.
By the way, bowsprite has her own commercial activities operating South Street Seaport’s 14 Fulton Street pop-up shop.