Monday, April 30, 2012

My Grandpa

This is a post I've been meaning to do for a while but it has been sitting on the back burner.  Mainly because my memory needed a little bit of jogging.  Anyway, here goes.

I guess one of the places where I got a passion for ships was from my Grandpa on my mom's side.  He died when I was around 10 but I was the only of his grandchildren that really got to know him.  We used to go fishing and numerous other things.  It was cool.  Sadly, I wasn't old enough to appreciate asking him questions about his life before knowing me.  So this has been pieced together from bits and pieces.  I guess like many things in life.

It's not often that I will use other people's pictures on this blog but it's not like I can go back in time to take them.  So I do want to give a thanks to the people that did post these pictures.
 I used to have a picture of him during World War II but I don't know what happened to it.  But my cousin still had some, so I asked him for a picture.  He had a picture but not the one I was thinking of.  He did however have a copy of his Merchant Marine Logbook.  This was like a treasure trove of information for me because it showed the ships that he worked on before World War II.
The ship pictured above is the steamer Aetna.  I don't have too many details on the ship itself as I found the picture here.  He worked on her from 1937 to 1941.  He was a coal passer which I assume is the person that shovels coal from the bunkers into the burner.  It sounds like pretty hard and dirty work.  I would imagine it was pretty hot in the summers as well.
It's kind of ironic because he would have been on the ship at the time the above picture was taken.  It was also taken in front of the cement plant where he would later work.
 The next ship he worked on was the Steamer Marquette which was owned by the Cleveland Cliffs company.  It appears that he only worked on this one in 1941.  He was designated as a fireman on this ship which means that he tended the fire for the boilers.  The above picture came from the website.  There are many other cool pictures of old ships there.
 The above picture is him during World War II.  He is the one on the right.  The sad part about some of this stuff is that all you have left at times is a faded picture.  I think he was at Dutch Harbor when it was attacked as part of the Midway campaign.  I also think he was wounded there.  I'm pretty sure that one of my relatives has his Purple Heart.
 Later in the war, he served on the U.S.S. Manileno.  I found out about this ship because my mom has a letter that was addressed to him from his mom.  It was addressed to the ship.
The ship itself was known as the S.S. Vittoria and Rapallo and was built in Italy in 1922.  At breakout of war, she found herself interned in Columbia.  Shortly after the US entered the war, she was purchased by the US government and renamed the Polonaise.  She was used to transfer fuel along the east coast.
In 1944, she was acquired by the Navy and given the name Manileno and designation IX-141.  She served as a floating oil storage ship in the Pacific until the end of the war.  The above picture was taken from the U.S. Navy historical site.  It is another really good resource for ships.

It's funny, when we think of Navy ships, we tend to think of things like aircraft carriers, battleships, etc.  We never think of the ships that are necessary to support them.  It is for this reason that I like Mr. Roberts.
 After the war, he worked at the cement plant in Essexville.  I'm not quite sure what he did there.  I do remember visiting him there a couple of times though.
 A shot of the plant from the front.
 I've taken a picture of this before but it is the safety award that the plant got.  I like to think that my grandpa had a hand in getting this award.
A closeup of the detail of the award.  I kind of like it.

I think there are some holes in the above story but again, I was piecing it together from the bits and pieces of information that I had.  Like I said above, I never took the time to ask but then again I don't think was really a priority with me until later in life.  But at any rate, I do miss my grandpa.

So I guess when I am sitting out on the Detroit River taking pictures of the ships, I can feel at least one connection to him.  Even though the ships are much different, I think there are still some common elements amongst sailors.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

And of Course...The Eagles

No trip to my mom's would be complete without a stop by the eagle's nest.  I think the commotion around them has died down a bit as I don't see nearly as much traffic now when I stop.
 Anyway, I got a treat yesterday as I saw both eagles in the nest.  I am guessing the eaglets will be hatching at some point.
 A slightly obscured shot of the pair.
 A better shot of one of them.
 A better shot of one of them and you can see the other peeking out from behind the branch.
And a parting shot as I headed back to Ypsilanti.

Canadian Anemone

When it comes to wildflowers, I like to look at them so I will defer to others when it comes to identifying them.
 My mom said this was Canadian Anemone.  It looks pretty cool.
A closer shot of one of the flowers.

A Hawk in Flight

My mom and I wandered the area around Fish Point for a bit.  As I looked off to the side, I saw a hawk perched in a tree.  I tried to get close to him and I must have reached his tolerance because he took off.
 He circled around a bit before flying off.  I think he might have been looking for food.
 An almost straight on shot.
 I'm probably lucky I wasn't near the nest because there were a couple times his talons came out.
And one more flyby before he went for greener pastures.

A Visit to Fish Point

Fish Point is a wildlife refuge that is about 30 miles east of Bay City.  I believe it is wetlands that feed into the Saginaw Bay.  There are some spots that are accessible by car but many spots you have to hike to.  It is home to a number of different bird species.
 One of the egrets.
 An egret in flight.
 This is probably my favorite picture of the bunch.
 I think this is a muskrat building his home.
 A pair of egrets.
 A goose parent keeping on eye on me as his or her children make their way to the wild.
 The goose parents fleeing.
 It was actually kind of neat to watch.  The goose in the back would push the goslings to they were close to the goose in front.
 Another shot of the goslings.
 An almost overall shot of Fish Point.  You can see an egret in the foreground.
One of the paths and streams.

The Joseph H. Thompson Again....

As I've mentioned before, I was born and raised in Bay City, Michigan.  My mom still lives up there and I go up to give her a hand every two weeks.

When I was growing up, it seemed like there were ships that were always on the Saginaw River.  Now it doesn't seem like that anymore, so it is special when I go home and see a ship on the River.
 This is a ship that has appeared on this blog before, so I'm not going to go into details about her.  She was docked at the stone dock in Essexville and right next to that is a park.  So I decided to stop at the park.
 I was moving a bit to get a better angle.
 Since I don't own a boat, this is not an angle I can normally get.  It's amazing how much larger they look when you're so close.
 A shot of her bow.  It's kind of a shame they don't have her war ribbons somewhere though.
 And anchor.
 The boom extended.
 A shot of the Joseph H. Thompson Jr., which is her dedicated tug.
 A closer shot of her pilothouse.
 Looking down at her bow.
 almost under the boom.
 Unloading gravel.
One last shot before going to my mom's.

And Finally...The Roger Blough

My favorite ship is the Roger Blough.  I'm not quite sure why though.  She's not one of the longest ships since she's not a 1000 footer.  She has a history but she doesn't have a spot in history like the Arthur Anderson.  Maybe it's because she has the traditional laker look but is still enough of a monster.
 Here she is as she is rounding Belle Isle.
 This shot may explain it.  She is pretty low in the water and looks almost like an alligator or turtle reading to pounce on something.
 Or maybe it is because her form isn't affected by the presence of a self unloading boom.  She's a self unloader but her system is hidden.
 A shot of her bow.
 Another shot of her.
 Just look at the wave, so you can only imagine how much she is displacing.
 Here is a shot of her full 858 feet.  She's not big enough to be the Queen of the Lakes but I think she could handle her own.  She is certainly wide enough at 105 feet.
 A shot of her pilothouse.
 And a shot of her bridge.
 Her stack.
 Another shot of her pilothouse.
 One of her crewmembers freezing on deck.  It was cold yesterday just sitting on the pier.  I can't imagine would it would have been like sitting on a moving ship.
 A shot of her stern.
 One of her self-unloading conveyors.  Because of this, she can only go to certain ports.
 A shot as she passes by.
 Her she is passing by the Detroit Princess.

 The Ambassador Bridge backing her up.
And a final shot before she continues on to Ohio.