Friday, October 5, 2012

Sepia Saturday: Breaking the ice


Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




When Alan selected the photo for this week’s Sepia Saturday challenge, he was dreaming of his upcoming luxury vacation cruise.  While I've never been on a cruise, my dad did some cruising in his younger days.

In the Coast Guard.
My dad - Fred R. Slade, Jr

He enlisted shortly after high school on February 11, 1946, and was honorably discharged May 12, 1947. One year in service to our country must have been the minimum to qualify for the GI Bill enabling him to enroll in college for the fall semester.

Daddy was stationed in Boston, Massachusetts.  He loved Boston and he spent as much of his free time as possible at the Boston Symphony or at Fenway Park watching those Red Sox.  His work as a seaman involved decommissioning four ships.  I suppose that means he was cleaning out drawers and removing cannonballs preparing to spike the cannon.

USCGC Eastwind
photo courtesy of USCG.mil

He was assigned to the USCGC Eastwind, a wind-class icebreaker, considered the most technologically advanced icebreaker in its day.   Icebreakers are special-purpose ships with a strengthened hull and an ice-clearing shape, with power to push through ice-covered waters.  









Breaking through the icy waters near Greenland


The Eastwind and ships like it were able to drive their bow ONto the ice, breaking the ice under their weight.  The specially designed hull enabled the ship to direct broken ice either around or under the vessel; otherwise the buildup of broken ice could slow it down.  





Lowering a truck into a smaller boat to
transport to the air base



The Eastwind made four trips to Greenland patrolling the waters, but mainly supplying bases there.


I don’t ever recall seeing Daddy’s scrapbook of his time in the Coast Guard until after his death.  So I’m totally without stories about his shipmates and their work, which he faithfully documented in photos.  













But the scrapbook reflects Daddy’s personality and the traits that I have come to associate with him.  

First of all, he was always sentimental about mothers and children. 

Inuit people of Greenland
Inuit family in front of their home


































He was curious about other cultures.  









The powerful icebreaker held as much fascination for the Inuit as the kayaks did for Daddy and his shipmates.

























He was in awe of nature’s majesty.




He was always amused by the antics of children and animals.

A most loved companion -- "Skunk"


Skunk was the ship’s mascot.  Although mascots were not officially allowed, most captains turned a blind eye as long as the animal was cared for and boosted morale.  And in typical mascot fashion, Skunk didn’t belong to anyone in particular and would follow along with the men when they went ashore, even to the bars.  The men made sure Skunk sat on his own barstool and drank some beer.  Yeeeaah, I guess there was no PETA chapter in Thule.








Sail on over to Sepia Saturday to see what the crew has to offer.  Don’t be shy - I’ve already broken the ice for you.


55 comments:

  1. I found this to be a fascinating post especially as I did a Sepia Saturday post in Jan 2011 on icebreakers. However the experience of your Dad and his interests is what really caught my attention and the Inuits in particular. In training courses we use a picture of an icebreaker in the course introduction and some shots of polar bears provided by a delegate from Thule.Skunk is a great name for a dog.

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    1. I'm going back to your Jan 2011 blog and read it. I hadn't found Sepia Saturday then.

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  2. A very special post Wendy! A beautiful collection of pictures.
    I pride myself that we also have a coast guard here in Holland. The difference with yours is that we have so little coast...

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    1. The larger the coast, the more manpower needed to protect it. It makes for a lot of competition among the armed services to attract new recruits.

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  3. It's amazing what we can find out about people just by looking at the things they loved. :)

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    1. Yeah, I was initially just irritated looking at all those photos wondering what the heck I was looking at, who were those people blah blah blah. But through it all, those pictures ARE my dad - exactly the things he would take pictures of.

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  4. Wendy, you have such a fabulous collection of pictures of your family. I am envious.

    ~Denise

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    1. Now see, that's exactly the kind of thing I say to other people. I always feel like I have nothing. Too funny!

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  5. What a wonderful collection & scrapbook of your father's. I had to laugh at the previous comment & your reply, we are never happy with what we have are we, there's always someone out there with a better collection than we have!

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    1. That is true. Everyone else has letters and postcards and scrapbooks of memorabilia, not just photos. HA! Thanks for your kind comments and empathy!

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  6. He did quite a lot in that single year of service, and it's lucky that you have the photos, if not his recounting of memories. Many thanks for sharing them

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    1. It does seem like a lot of work for a year. When I saw that list of ships on his discharge papers, I wondered if he had been kicked off one and sent to another. But when I researched the history of each ship, I saw that in every case they were in Boston to be decommissioned.

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  7. Wendy, enjoyed your story about your Dad's stint as a sailor; it must have been so different then, I think especially the communication with his family while he was away. Beautiful photos to be treasured. Naturally love the picture of Skunk, oh, he was such a cutie.

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    1. Daddy had many pictures of Skunk, but some of the photos have yellowed so much that I didn't want to use them. This one seems to show ol' Skunk at his best.

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    2. You could have desaturated them...
      ;)~
      HUGZ

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    3. Oh, you mean something that requires technical knowledge? I only know what I know. Do you have a "Desaturating For Dummies" tutorial?

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    4. Alright!! So you're not photoshop addict...
      Download Faststone Viewer and you can turn your pic
      into pure B&W again, among other things.

      http://www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm

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    5. Thanks - I'll check that out. I use IrfanView and can do some editing like resizing and changing to black/white or sepia. I've never noticed anything about desaturating, but then again I've never looked since I didn't know to.

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    6. I promise you:
      It has a user friendly interface.
      You'll get it in no time!!
      I've been using it for years now,
      for minor/basic stuff,
      when photoshop is not absolutely required.
      :)~
      HUGZ

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  8. It's a real treat when Alan's theme inspires a super story like this, Wendy. I've always wanted to go to Greenland but I doubt that it looks anything like these pictures. Your Dad's adventure in that first post-war year, must have had a special excitement knowing that the world (mostly) was open to explore in peace.

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    1. I'm glad you mentioned the first post-war time period. I had totally overlooked that point myself although during my research on the Eastwind I saw that it was heavily armed and had fought a German ship during the war.

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  9. What a treat to see all these pictures from your dad's scrapbook, Wendy...and so nicely complemented by the explanation you provided.

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  10. In that picture of Daddy I can see myself and Joel! HAHA! Yep, you are so right about Daddy and what he appreciated in life. Wonderful post-and research-You are good girl!

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    1. Well, I didn't think of you but I did a double-take thinking immediately of Joel -- even his shape.

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  11. What an insight into a year in the coastguards, and your father looks to have made the most of it. How wonderful he documented it all with photographs. Icebreakers and Greenland may not have been on his mind when he joined up, what a treat.

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    1. I don't know what he imagined service would be like, but he was always glad he was stationed in Boston.

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  12. Skunk is so adorable! What a wonderful journey through your dad's days! My father was in the Navy as well. Sadly my mother has done something with the entire album we once had of his days in the Navy. I'm trusting someday, because the ship photos like of your dad are just so wonderful!

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    1. I hope your dad's scrapbook shows up. I've enjoyed looking at things my dad photographed: men at work, men asleep on deck, oceans of ice, and parts of the ship itself. Lots of history.

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  13. Great post about your dad and his experience on the ship,
    but truth be told, Skunk steals the show here.
    Thanx 4 sharing!!
    :D~
    HUGZ

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  14. Hi Wendy, oh how I loved this post and am happy about getting to know your Dad better. How wonderful that he took so many pictures. It seems as if he got lots of adventure in during his short time before the war wound down. And to have been able to watch the Red Sox at Fenway way back when! I am envious of that part.

    He is so cute in that very first picture, though the uniform made me think of Gilligan, lol.

    Kathy M.

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    1. Ha -- he does look like Gilligan in that hat.

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  15. How fortunate that you had a Daad who was so intereted in other things; nature, people, ships. Lucky too that he recorded them so well. her certainly packed a lot into that year!

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    1. I agree with you! I am indeed lucky to have a glimpse into my dad's life before I even came along.

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  16. The dog caught my attention as my dad often spoke of his ship captain's dog. He was in the U.S. Navy during WWII. I know he missed his dog back in Michigan (He carried framed photos of Trixy with him). I think that Captain's dog helped him and likely many others. I am trying to think of the dog's name - thank you for prompting me to revisit this memory!
    Kathy

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  17. Great photos. It's nice that the scrapbook was preserved.

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  18. So many fun and interesting things here! Your dad in his sailor's hat. The Inuit home with the pane glass windows that seem in stark contrast to the rest of the house. Wondering how that man fit in his kayak. Imagining the beauty of the the scenic pictures. And Skunk!

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    1. The Inuit home fascinates me with that big ol' picture window. It is contrary to what I expected.

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  19. I'd say you are your fathers daughter. Wonderful photos, information and reflective and deductive reasoning of your fathers interests. My Dad was a sailor stationed in Japan, and I have several photos of him with a dog in the barracks there. I never stopped to think about how important that little detail could be to the photo. Another great post.

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    1. Aww - thanks. Yes, those little details so often are the big point. That's something I've come to know from participating in Sepia Saturday.

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  20. Breaking the ice...what a cold job! Great that we have brave men & women like your Dad in the Coast Guard! You must be proud. Colleen

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    1. Cold indeed -- Daddy said it was the coldest place he'd ever been.

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  21. These are some great photos Wendy! Your dad must have had some very interesting experiences while serving in the Coast Guard. Although I have to say that Greenland is not on my "must visit" list. It must have been soooo cold there!

    I do love the photos he took of the people there. It's interesting to see their homes and kayaks too. Quite fascinating!

    Their mascot dog was cute. Hmmm, I wonder why they named him "Skunk."

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    1. My sister offers an explanation for Skunk's name -- he probably smelled like one because probably none of the guys ever bothered to bathe him.

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    2. Or he peed everywhere...
      ;)~
      HUGZ

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  22. My husband was in the Coast Guard in the 1960s but he did not go to any place as interesting as your dad did. Just the great lakes area. No photos of mountains of ice. No photos at all in fact.

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    1. We have gaps in our family history too, times when we had no camera.

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  23. That's so very sad to not have found this until is passing.

    I had the chance to buy an incredible photo album of a man who served in the Coast Guard in Alaska back in the 1930s. I still kick myself for not buying it, though the $200+ price tag was out of my league.

    You have something very special.

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    1. Thanks, I think it's a special album too. The Alaska album might have been interesting, but at $200+ I'd have passed on it as well

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  24. What a wonderful post, Wendy! I liked the photos of the Inuit children most. So cute!

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    1. The pictures of the Inuit are my favorite too.

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