If the airline staff were rude to you this week en route to your Thanksgiving dinner, compare them to this fire-breathing ship captain bringing new settlers to Wisconsin.
The writer was a teenager when his family left upstate New York in the fall of 1843. It took 20 hours on the Erie Canal just to reach Buffalo, where they boarded a steamer for Milwaukee.
Foul weather delayed them for three days at Cleveland, where the author met the captain: “His passions were violent in the extreme, and his oaths, constituting almost his entire store of ordinary language, would fill a full vocabulary of the most sulphurous profanity.”
The boy snuck on deck during a fierce gale off Mackinaw, only to be greeted “with the howl: ‘What in hell and damnation are you doing here? Go below, damn you!’”
But he hid nearby, instead, and watched dumbstruck as the captain screamed “in a voice of anger and terror heard above the roar of the tempest the most tremendous oaths imaginable, damning the storm, the winds, the waves, and him who ‘rides upon the whirlwind and directs the storm’ as the cause of the hurricane through which we were plunging, with the water dashing over our bows and half-mast high above our heads.”
His method must have worked, since the ship reach safe harbor at Manitou, Mich., that night. Two days later, after a week of being tossed on the freezing lakes, the boy’s family landed safely in Milwaukee and began their new life in the wilds of Wisconsin.
I am a boatnerd. My family has lived off of the lakes from the seaway to Duluth.
Flying will never be safe as long as you have to drive to the airport.
Our ancestors would envy us…