Friday, October 25, 2013

Sepia Saturday: "Breaking the Ice" - Take 2

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




This week’s Sepia Saturday is a special day:  it marks the 200th edition of Sepia Saturday.  To commemorate this amazing milestone, participants have been invited to share ONE of their own favorite contributions which will be collected in a keepsake book. 

As a family historian, I always try to link the weekly prompt to a family member and story.  I chose the story about my dad’s service in the Coast Guard for a couple reasons.  First, my response to the original prompt forced me to do research, and I always appreciate that kick in the pants.  Second, the process of writing the post made me see my dad, REALLY see him and his character in a way that I probably always knew subconsciously but had never thought about before.  Besides all that, the photos themselves are rather interesting for their historic and cultural value.

Now I present “Breaking the Ice,” the response to prompt #146 on October 6, 2012.

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 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 bar stool and drank some beer.  Yeeeaah, I guess there was no PETA chapter in Thule.










To see what other Sepians have selected as their favorite posts, please visit Sepia Saturday.


43 comments:

  1. A lovely tribute to your Dad with some fascinating images. I know what you mean about finding it moving to write. I felt the same when writing on SS recently about my father's wartime experiences.

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    1. Thanks Sue. We've had a lot of WWI and WWII stories that couldn't help but be emotional for the bloggers to write and share online. My dad did not serve in combat, rather postwar, more of a caretaking operation. I'm glad I didn't have a really sad story to tell.

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  2. Skunk is adorable. Ah you are always right on target, again and again. Wendy,you are gifted with so many wonderful, family related photos, and you always have the sense to blend them with our themes. Perfect post indeed.

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    1. Stop -- you're making me blush.

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    2. Blush tones are very becoming too!

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  3. I can understand why this is your favorite post. I don't know if I saw it the first time, but I'm glad I saw it today. ☺

    Have a wonderful weekend!

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  4. There are so many things we always wish we'd taken the time to find out before it was too late. You are lucky in having family that loved taking photographs and keeping them safe for the future generations to enjoy. It must have been dangerous amongst all that ice.

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    1. It surely looks dangerous. Daddy said Greenland was the coldest place on Earth.

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  5. It is a cracker of a post! I'm sure he would be delighted to see such a tribute and to know that you understood him well by the artifacts he left behind.
    Hey, even Shackleton had a cat on board his ship, so Skunk was in good company!

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    1. I'm sure my dad would be equally touched by all the nice comments from people who took the time to read this.

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  6. Wonderful pictures and Skunk is a doll. I hope his name wasn't indicative of something, but being a semi-longhaired dog and around water a lot, I imagine it probably was. Oh well. He was well-loved I'm sure - no matter.

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    1. Oh I'm sure "Skunk" earned his name rightfully.

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  7. I can see why you liked this one, Wendy. Your reprint is one of the reasons I enjoy the many Sepian blogs. It's like going through a vast museum where a special guide in each room gets us to look at an old photo through the eyes of the person who took the photo or saved it. It's not just a dog. It's Skunk of the arctic Eastwind!

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    1. "Skunk of the Arctic Eastwind" -- that would make a good Disney movie, I'm sure of it!

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  8. I'm really glad Alan did this as I get to read a whole lot of posts from before I became a Sepian!
    Also glad you Dad left these photos for you, old photos really do show a different side of people we love.

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    1. That's true. I don't remember him being a great one for the camera when I was growing up -- an occasional picture at Christmas or Easter, maybe a couple on vacation, but he certainly wasn't an avid picture-taker.

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  9. What a wonderful post about your dad! It's great that he kept a scrapbook about his service in the Coast Guard. What a treasure!

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    1. Yes, it is a treasure. I wish he scribbled names on the pictures though. They're not family, but it would be nice to know the names of the crew.

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  10. A Unique & Invaluable Record of The Inuit.Well Done Your Dad, & Well Done You !

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  11. So very interesting...all of it, but especially "Skunk" and the Inuits. Your father was such a cute "sailor". He looks like he was hired from central casting.
    Barbara

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    1. He was rather cute. I see my sister's son in that picture of my dad and he's quite handsome.

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  12. Pity about the lack of stories, but what a great scrapbook!

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    1. It's a very neatly arranged scrapbook too.

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  13. What an interesting post, Wendy. It's too bad your dad didn't share his scrapbook and stories while he was alive, especially since he served postwar and would probably not have had to remember traumatic times. I'm wondering if Skunk was part Airedale terrier. He has some qualities (shaggy hair, coloring) that remind me of my Hannah.

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    1. Now that you mention it, Skunk does seem to have some Airedale. Not a purebred I'm sure.

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  14. Those photos of your dad's were so interesting. I can see why he had the curiosity. To think that he recorded the Inuits at that time. It's a special record. You should be very proud of him.
    Nancy
    Ladies of the grove

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    1. I am proud. The Inuits probably seemed like a real novelty at the time. I'm sure the Coasties were a novelty to them as well.

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  15. Very interesting Wendy, It's always a pleasure to see other cultures through a photographer's eyes. When he is in your own family then it's special.

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    1. It's interesting to me to notice what others find interesting and worth remembering in photographs.

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  16. An excellent choice. I know what you mean about Sepia Saturday making us knuckle down to the research, and in this case you have uncovered many sides to your Dad and illustrtated them so well.

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  17. Great to see your dad was a Red Sox fan. Great post for Sepia Saturday 200!

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    1. Indeed he was a Sox fan, but he liked many other teams too.

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  18. Your dad must have enjoyed his job. You've done a great job writing this post based on his photos.

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  19. Your Dad possessed an adventurer's spirit, Wendy. A fascinating account, and a fine tribute.

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  20. Well Done Wendy. A wonderful tribute.

    I agree, I love it when Sepia Saturday prompts me to do research and write about something that I may not have otherwise.

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  21. How wonderful to have that scrapbook, and it's great that you get to see a different side of your dad.

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  22. This is a first for me to hear about a coastguard experience. You dad had some really sensitive photos showing that he did care for people. The photos themselves are in great shape and I am sure you value them a lot. Great post.

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  23. Your Dad's photos are very interesting. I wonder whether there are still Inuit homes like the ones in the photo.

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  24. I don't remember seeing this one before, Wendy. Very fascinating and full of history. I enjoyed seeing your Dad as a happy sailor, his ship, the dog and everything. I am so glad that this will be in the book.

    Hugs,

    Kathy M.

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  25. It was and remains a great post!!!
    Splendid photographs of the locals and scenery.
    The dog at the end obviously steals the show though.
    I'd hate to see it come back from the bars with the boys...
    :D~
    HUGZ

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