My First Ship
One day while a group of children were playing around the town, my attention was called to a ship in the Gulf. An unusual occurrence in those days! It was a really big steamer in our eyes. I had a toy telescope and looked at the ship through it. I was able to see, by means of the telescope, that the ship flew a British ensign on the stern. There was nothing to do but go down and get a closer view. We started off and went down the road. It was summer time and the group consisted of some five or six rag-a-muffin boys. The closer we drew to the ship, the more my heart would thump. It was such an exciting occasion. As we approached I saw that the boat was a tramp steamer. We could see a sailor leaning over the railing in idle curiosity watching our row boat. The boys insisted that I call out to the sailor and thought possibly he might invite us on board. After a good deal of hesitation and in a quivering voice I yelled, "Can we come on board?" You can imagine his amazement. The sailor saw nothing but a group of uncouth ruffian boys and he was astonished to hear an English speaking voice in the group. He immediately straightened himself up and said, "Come along." The gang-plank was let down and we all ran aboard. I went first and the little Armenian boys followed. I had been reading various nautical stories in the Boys' magazines and as I approached the sailor I knew exactly what to do, that is what a man has to do when he goes on a ship. Therefore I turned to the stern and smartly saluted. That simply took the crew by storm and there was nothing they would not do for us. They took us over the entire boat, much to our delight. We saw every part of it. I felt as though I was having a delightful dream. The wonderful sense of unreality about it all! It was with sinking hearts that we finally had to leave the ship and descend the gang-plank.
That experience was food for dreams for years to come!
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