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Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:06 pm

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Age: 74

"The Boy, Me, and The Cat"
"Life aboard a small boat, from Massachusetts to Florida and back in 1912
By Henry Plummer

This is a short book, only 138 pages. However, as I was advised, you get your money's worth with this one ($12.95 from SCA) because the author is writing in 1912 and tells the reader "With the passing of the sailing ship much of the language of the sea will also pass away and so in writing this log I have used all of the nautical terms I could think of and some I could't think of" i.e. he simply made up terms to sort of fit the narrative. The archaic terms he used required frequent trips to various reference works to see just what he was talking about. "Tis a fine day matey when Moby Dick is easier to read then this tome"

At first I thought it was not actually written in 1912 but rather by James Patterson since in the first 35 pages there were 16 chapters. I then thought perhaps this was actually his logs for the days and weeks of the trip. They certainly read like mine, disjointed, with poor syntax and innovative spelling. A little research proved this to be correct. Mr. Plummer made 700 copies of the log pages, bound them together with fishing twine and sold them to friends and family and others. One interesting use of "nautical terminology" was stating he and "the boy" had covered so many knots at an average speed of x knots per hour. Today of course we refer to distance as nautical miles (6000 feet) and speed in knots.

As I pointed out elsewhere, while this was a good read although somewhat lacking in fine detail I doubt it would be published today unless it was, as was this one, self published. Politically Correct had not entered the lexicon yet and Mr. Plummer was far from it. The use of the "N" word was quite frequent and in one direct quote (don't beat me I am only repeating what he wrote) "It was a nice village, they didn't allow niggers there". Different world folks

Another non PC issue was he had a silenced 22 caliber rifle that he named "Helen Keller" because it could not be heard. With this rifle he shot birds for the "sport", cows and pigs that had wandered too close to the water and various other creatures for no real reason. He also had no compunction against raiding fish traps and taking fish for his dinner. Another interesting part of the book was he and "the boy" were always competing for Coca Cola's. At first I was wondering the significance of the drink. Then I remembered that at the time of this story Coca Cola had a very high portion of cocaine in the recipe. Was this the reason? I don't know but as i said, it was an interesting idea.

When the voyage hit the South Carolina/Georgia line I was quite familiar with the area he was sailing in and when he hit the Florida/Georgia line I had sailed in many of the same waters over the years. In many cases his description of the landscape is little different from today although the million dollar plus homes on the beach are more numerous. One thing that mystified me was his constant complaints about the heat. He was in the Savannah Ga to Daytona Beach area in February and March. While admittedly its warmer than Gloucester MA in February its not steamy hot and I certainly wouldn't want to go swimming in the rivers and creeks. But perhaps it was warmer 100 years ago. I do know that in the late 50's there was a sizable group of orange growers in Jacksonville that all disappeared by the 1970's. Along the I-4 corridor between Daytona Beach and Orlando were 1000's of acres of orange groves until the late 1970's, early 1980's when the freezes destroyed much of it. Now, the frost belt in Florida has moved almost all the way to Miami.

One sad note, the "boy" in the story was his adult son Henry Jr. After the trip Henry took up flying, went to France in 1917 and was soon shot down and killed.

It is an interesting little book and his writing style is quite entertaining. I sincerely recommend it.



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