|Cover of the CD|
We are delighted to announce that a rather scarce CD of sea music and chanties is now available in the Research Center--The WindLasses album Kindred Spirits. Why not stop by to listen to the Glovers' delightful harmonies?
|Cover of the CD|
|Kenichi Horie's inscription on the title page of the Research Center's rare copy of Kodoku.|
“Let’s go to sea for a year!”That’s what I call an intriguing start. A daughter pleading with her mother to run away to sea with her? How I wish I would have found this for Mother’s Day! It’s rare to find a sea adventure story that is about women, much less between a mother and daughter. I immediately wanted to know more about this book, so I started researching. Within a few minutes I had learned an intriguing and terribly sad story, not about this book but about the lives of the women who lived it.
“Where? For a what? Come on, Barbara, dry the dishes for me will you?”
“Come on mother, let’s run away to sea”
I want to live at sea much longer than ten days [ed. note: see below]. Oh I’ll take along books and study. Think of reading Virgil up in the crosstrees, or straddling the main book or lying in the fold of a furled spanker in some quiet harbor (p. 2).
“Let me tell you,” Barbara began, “Just what it’ll be like, that first day at sea. We’ll be towed out, and the tug captain and the master of our sailing ship will call across to each other, in their hoarse voices. We’ll be standing on the poop and you’ll get your first thrill when the little donkey engines start up. But wait until you hear the sounds of the rippling sails in the masts! You’ll hear the skipper call out, ‘Mains’l out first, then fores’l, forestays’l, and jibs; spanker and tops’ls. Lively, boys! We’ll be safely outside and prancing down the harbor under sail, and then we’ll cast the towrope, and the little tug will wheel about and chug back to the city. But we’ll be free! The great white sails will lift and lift and fill and fill, and we’ll be off. Off…” (p. 6).The two wind up in the West Indies and then onto Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa and points in between. Magic Portholes is their discovery of those beautiful islands and the adventures they have. It’s not so much of a travelogue as a lively conversation. The two never seem to get down and always face any setbacks with bemusement. They mostly travel by schooner, their preferred method, with occasional tramp steamers thrown in. Along the way they try to live for six shillings a day or less. They pick up work here and there writing dispatches or doing odd jobs. Mostly, people seem to be drawn to them and their vivacious way of living. I should note that there is some inappropriate language in the book that is unfortunately a product of the times the book was published in (1932). It seems out of place with the easy going good cheer of the novel and is a blight on an otherwise charming work.
That night, our first at sea, we lay awake in our bunks a long time, listening to the ocean outside our portholes. Fragments of talk floated around the little cabin, up from one bunk and down from another.
‘Hear that voice outside? That’s the voice that’s been haunting me for a year. Feel that wind? No breeze on land so fresh as that. Look through the porthole! See the dome sand callous ocean rising falling- stars riding the waves… I’m at sea again. Am I? It smells like it; it looks like it; it sounds like it. To-morrow we’ll be at sea- the next day -the next- and we’ll sleep to-night with the sound of the ocean in our ears, of wind in the sails- no, you know what I mean- the sound of engines- throbbing sound, not like sails, though. But it doesn’t matter- not much… Good night’ (p. 31).