I grew up on Staten Island our neighbor was Lenny Balagerchek (sp), an agent for the
Isthmian Line working at 90 Broad Street. He promised, when I finished high school to get
me on a ship. I completed all the paperwork and union business (SIU) while still in school.
Cleaned floors and butt cans at the Brooklyn Union Hall on Saturdays, “paying my dues”
they said. I graduated high school on a Friday and was on the Steel Chemist Saturday,
left the Brooklyn Army Depot Monday for a Hawaiian Pineapple run as a Wiper, June of 1965.
I was 17. Home sick before we left the pier. First port Philadelphia, overnight trip.
I was by then a seasoned Merchant. After all I blew tubes and oiled the aft steering gears.
Baltimore, Tampa, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, by this time I was walking around the waterfront
districts as if I belonged there. Next stop, Panama for bunkers, spent a wild night in Panama
City with a few of the crew. Twenty plus days later we were hopping around the Hawaiian
Islands. To most reading this, I suppose veteran seamen, my little jaunt was just another
trip, but to me who had never been further than Grant’s tomb it was an odyssey.
Though I never sailed again, my mind remained strongly connected to this one
sailing experience. I learned there how to conduct myself. Work hard, be responsible,
fellowship. Forty five years later I still can recall the crew, the conversations the
experiences. What a time. If I could, I’d do it all over again.
C. Ron Evans
Ron (Wiper), Joe (Ordinary), Jim (Wiper)