Written by Bob Hoppe specifically for the Moore-McCormack web site

We have all heard the old saying that tells us, "A young man's fancy lightly turns to love."  His love could be a beautiful young lady, his mom, a new car or numerous other things. That is until the first time he feels a bit of salt water between his toes, or rides on an excursion boat, or a ferryboat. All his previous loves fade into the background.  He doesn't know it yet, but he is rapidly looking at photos of ships and the call of the rivers, lake and finally the oceans of the world if he lives in or near a seaport city, he cannot stay away from the docks and piers.  He finally comes to his own reality that this is his true love.  He may grow into manhood, work in a factory, marry and raise a family, but his true love is always there to haunt him.  Finally it happens, a chance to go to sea.  He buys a nice cabin boat made affordable by his mother's estate.  He is now master of his own ship and bask in this new environment, but something keeps tugging at him.  There were many men and women in his family that answer the call at a young age and managed to hire on to companies with large fleets of ships.  Through them you might say he met a ship that he felt he could be united in a lasting companionship.  This ship came to port in different cities and he would spare no expense to visit her.  I say her because for a man to love it is to love the female gender.  The ship that has finally captured him completely will always be referred to as she or her.  Starting with his mother the female image was always the closeness he sought.

There is the story of a young man whose uncle arranged a meeting with one of the owners of a great shipping company.  He was 16 at the time and was learning of the deep feeling that came with ships the sea.  The man understood what the boy was going thru and smiled at him and his uncle and said "All right let's send him up to Kings Point."  Knowing that meant school for several years, the boy blurted out, "I don't want to go to school, I want to go to sea."  The gentleman behind the desk lost his smile for a few seconds and threw his arms up in despair.  We talked later on friendly terms and he explained to the boy what he had offered.  He also added that he understood his feelings.  I feel the same way he said.  I am sitting behind a desk but I would much rather feel the deck boards under my feet.  It was years later that he realized the mistake he had made, but the boy did catch some sea time in the Navy.

What brought this reminiscence on was writing this little piece in memory of a dear friend who recently departed this world.  Yes I am writing about a ship.  A ship that I got to know intimately, you could say.  I walked every inch of her deck.  I was in her engine room by the platform docking in different harbors.  I was seated in her dining room as a paid passenger on occasions as well.  I would fly to different ports and pay my way aboard if there was room.  When she and her sister ship were sold, I accompanied her sister to Germany with a different crew.  There was not one of the people that sailed her on board.  It was much like a family wake to me.

While the ships were laid up before this departure, a very good friend of mine was the engineer that watched over them.  I worked for the company where they were laid up and visited the two girls just about every day.  She was put in dry dock to change the shaft wood, and when I roamed around under her hull I was even more amazed that the pile of steel was so graceful the way she carried her passengers from port to port.  My my association with this ship and enjoyment of boyhood dreams of being part of a great ship, I sailed with her, I worked with her.  There was a time I could not go on a trip with her so I sent my wife and her sister on one of the last cruises she made.  She was a wonderful ship and will never be forgotten by hundreds of people who met her.  I am speaking of the S.S. Argentina and her sister the S.S. Brasil of the Moore-McCormick Lines and her regular crews that sailed her for years.


(Music on this page is "I Will Always Love You")





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