"Baden-Powell" Won Purser McElroy's Heart by Sighting a "Landlubber off the Starboard
Not since the days of Funston the famous Mexican parrot of Castle William on Governors Island, has there been seen in these parts a bird so wonderfully intelligent as is Baden-Powell, the big white or the Australian parrot whose home is on the White Star liner Cedric. The other day when the Cedric sailed out of Mew York bound for Liverpool, there stood at the rail waving farewell to friends ashore a big well-built Scotchman named McElroy and on his shoulder there perched a great white parrot, McElroy is Cedric's purser and Baden-Powell is his ward.
Purser McElroy was for several years past acting as purser on the White Star liner Britannic, one of the vessels of that line's fleet requisitioned into service by the British Government as a transport for the South African service.
It was just after the Britannic became a military transport that McElroy ran across Baden-Powell. The bird arrived in Cape Town one day on a tramp steamer. McElroy was strolling along the docks when suddenly the air was rent with the cry, "Landlubber off the starboard!"
McElroy looked around and he caught the eye of the parrot, and then the feathered wonder piped, "He's rubbered."
Right then and there McElroy made up his mind to secure the bird and going on board he enquired for the owner. He was escorted to the cabin of one of the junior officers, who pleaded guilty to owning the bird.
"I want him, and just simply have got to have him" was the way Britannic's purser opened negotiations.
"Sorry but you can't have him", was the Laconic refusal of the owner. Then McElroy worked on the officer's patriotism try telling him what a joy the bird would be to the thousands of soldiers who were destined to journey to and from England on the Britannic.
"All right" answered the owner of the bird, "I will let you have him on one condition. His name now is Petroleum Pete, since Petroleum is what we carry principally, and I don't like that name, you must call him Baden-Powell."
The bargain was concluded. Petroleum Pete was re-registered according to contract, and an hour later was safely caged away in McElroy's cabin aboard the Britannic.
When the Cedric arrived in New York on her last trip Baden-Powell was not on deck when the big liner was berthed neither was his guardian. When found he was perched on McElroy's shoulder, the officer being busy in his office getting his papers ready to be turned over to the proper officials.
An acquaintance of McElroy knocked at the door. "Keep out No lobsters wanted", was what the knocker on the outside heard from within, 'Shut up Baden, Come in it's alright" answered McElroy; and the friend opened the door. McElroy greeted his friend warmly while Baden-Powell with a look of disdain on his pealed countenance eyed him critically.
'Bum looker, don't eat much ice" piped the parrot. McElroy told the bird to shut up and where upon Baden-Powell gave a loud 'All right, all right" and leaving his place on Mc Elroy shoulder, took up his position on the windowsill overlooking the grand stairway.
"lookout Mac; the old man's corning!" said Baden-Powell I told you to shut up retorted the purser, "All right" answered Baden-Powell and obeyed orders.
Hugh Walter McElroy
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(1903) THE CEDRIC'S PARROT MASCOTNew York Times (ref: #10961, accessed 10th March 2014 07:00:08 AM)
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Added to Encyclopedia Titanica Tuesday 13th October 2009, last updated Monday 10th March 2014.