Daily photographs by HANS VON RITTERN, with humorous, artistic and social commentary on life in the big city.

Postcard story from New York: “WHEN I WAS A BOATSMAN”

BOATSMAN collage

Postcard story from New York – “WHEN I WAS A BOATSMAN”

Brookhaven, New York, January 20, 12pm, 1907

To: Hr. C. Schmer

Thisted, Denmark

“When I was a boatsman”

Yours Bernard

1907

The romance and intrigue of this card is wonderful! Who was this handsome Bernard with his piercing and determined eyes? Danish? A whaler? A shipmen? A boat dealer or repairman?  A fisherman? It was obviously something he came to America  to do since it was his heritage’s trade.

Thisted, Denmark to this day remains a tiny architecturally untouched town with no more than 13,067 inhabitants. Founded in the year 1500, Thisted is on an inlet on the North Sea and has Denmark’s leading fisheries port in Hanstholm. Notice: all you had to address the card to was “Schmer, Thisted, Denmark” – – and it got there?!?!?!…it was a smaller world in 1907.

Brookhaven is located on Long Island, New York. It was settled between 1640 and 1655, ousting the Indians. Cattle ranching was it’s first industry and then by 1900 whaling was their big income. So was Bernard ’the old man and the sea’ hunting whales? So it seems Bernard sailed to Long Island, New York to seek his fortune across the Atlantic in Brookhaven and seemingly (hopefully) happily retired there since his card fondly reads “When I was…”

A poem to the sea
I must go down to the seas again,
to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea’s face, and a gray dawn breaking.
~John Masefield 1878-1967

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