Thursday, June 22, 2017

June 1917

Friend & companion in shared family history Mike McKenzie, early of Panama City now of Atlanta, spotted news of interest to me on a hundred-year-old front page of St. Andrews Bay News. It mentions my grandfather’s firm Bay Fisheries, the fishing smack (twin-masted schooner) Annie & Jennie, and A.D.Weller, Jr., my father’s brother Alfred. My aunts called him Alf. His picture at sixteen or seventeen is on the wall here in front of me, beside the model of Annie & Jennie that my son Joe constructed about 2010, Joe and I sailed on StAndrewsBay in front of the old house, and Joe gifted to me, a life’s treasure. 

The newspaper image is small to read, so I've retyped two items below (scroll down). Actually, two and a limerick.

Exactly a century ago, June 1917 was Alfred’s last summer before he was drowned when, January 1918 caught in a heavy squall, Annie & Jennie grounded, her keel cracked, she wrecked and broke apart attempting passage through the Old East Pass. Quoted in the newspaper, Alfred was seventeen that summer 2017, bringing to mind and stirring memories of my own summer when I was seventeen, and glad that it was not my last.

Living at 7H with Davis Point directly in my line of sight across StAndrewsBay, every single time I look at it I visualize the A&J rounding it that January 1918 midnight in bitter winter cold, Alfred and Pop just an hour earlier having laughed at Mom for her doting mother’s concern about his safety and begging to no avail that he take the train instead of going aboard A&J for her midnight, it must have been high tide, sailing to Carrabelle to undergo repairs.

I am still and always deeply mindful that with Alfred’s death came my devastated family's selling out and moving away, and thus my own conception, birth and life, and always holding him gratefully in my heart. Telling me "Alfred stories" some twenty years after, when I was a boy, Mom said, "I never should have waked him up." 


St. Andrews Bay News 
St Andrews, Florida, June 12 1917 

Front page news:


Frank Cooney Brings In $1,000 Stock In Annie & Jennie And Buys Car

The good luck of our St. Andrews fishermen continues to hold, and the local fleet is in a fair way to offset the lean times of the past. Captain Frank Coonie, in the Annie & Jennie, came in last week with a thousand dollar stock of fish which were taken by the Bay Fisheries Co., owners of the vessel. The crew of nine men shared better than forty dollars each for their twelve-day trip. Frank had so much loose kale as a result of his big trip that he immediately purchased a shiny new Buick runabout, asserting that he had paid for several cars (in hire) since his arrival over here, and now proposed to have something to show for his money.


We learn upon excellent authority - A.D.Weller Jr. - that at least half dozen of our local carpenters, at the behest of Capt. Frank Cooney, are burning the midnight oil drawing plans for a garage to be erected on the back piazza of the Annie & Jennie, when she comes in again, so that Capt. Cooney can take his darling little Buick to sea with him next trip. We have a touching bit of verse relative to the Captain and his car which must wait until next week on account of lack of space.

(But they seem to have squeezed it in):


There was a smack captain named Frank,
Whose self-starter once failed to crank
And the things he spat out
At the poor runabout
Plumb rendered the atmosphere rank.

Imagination running, I dug out online a 1917 Buick brochure and found Captain Cooney’s "runabout," a roadster.

Remnant of TSCindy clearing through, tide is still high in StAndrewsBay seven stories below me, up to the lamp post in Oaks by the Bay Park next door. Wind SE 12 mph.

DThos+ a century on 
remembering Alfred and loving Buicks

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