MurdochSan Francisco Books and Writers


Dec 2, 2000
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Ilya,
That was really a lot of interesting facts Ilya, but I must agree with Inger (oh no not again) but I think you are too humble in your contribution. It seems that the two of you spark a whole way of thinking on the topic of shiphandling, shipmastering, tradition and the Murdoch family. I, myself, have learned a great deal from Ing's and Kerri's site plus what you and they have posted here.

So, am I right about those 2 am calls. Hmmmm? Smirk! You seafaring chaps....hmmmmm.
happy.gif


And I do not know about the "blondie" in your family, but my dad's family all have very dark hair and dark eyes and he has a brother with blond hair blue eyes as well. Perhaps you are onto something with the Viking heritage there.

There was an exhibit here on the Vikings for quite some time, but I was unable to get round to seeing it. I wished to but no time. They seemed to be quite a great culture of people with tremendous skills.

Ilya, do you know what kind of sea experience William had as a youngster, say pre-12-13 yrs of age? I mean, did the family go boating say like the Kennedys have always been a water-oriented family. Like did they own a family yacht or boat of some sort? With his sea experience, did Samuel take his family out on the water in his free time or was the sea merely an occupation? I ask this cause I feel that there was a childhood love for ships and things of the sea that drew these young men to the sea. Is there anything to that?
And thanks again for your sharing your valuable time with us Ilya.
Maureen.
 
Dec 12, 1999
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For those of you interested in San Francisco research there is a community link "The Titanic Story In San Francisco" (under "Links - General") which is open for members to join. There are many online resources listed there. It's a community, so you can join, leave messages, and add pictures. If you want a picture of something in or around San Francisco that not on there, let me know.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Hey there Joe,
Maureen here. Sorry I haven't gotten back with you on that San Francisco issue but I guess you know that we have been rather busy at work lately and my resource for that infomration is rather busy at the moment but will catch up with you.
Thanks for your understanding in this.
Maureen.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Lol! Ilya can testify that my middle-of-the-night research phone calls are rather rapid fire...he (like Kerri) will let me go on for about 5 minutes at a completely unintelligible rate, then will gently break in with 'Ing? Ing? Ing? Slow down. Now, I haven't understood a word: Repeat s-l-o-w-l-y.' So everything is then repeated at a more easily understood pace, as I've learned that an excited Australian doesn't drawl, she speaks with words that tumble over each other with enthusiasm. (Kerri's husband said I was 'Crocodile Dundee at 45 rpms').

Ilya does undersell himself, though - far from a passive listener, he has a wonderful perspective on material I discuss with him. He has the professional and research background to give useful and valuable contributions when I ask for his views and input.

The Viking reference came from Susanne Stormer, and you could be on to something with your brother there, Ilya. Perhaps he's not a changeling, but a genetic throwback? Stormer's exact comment is 'And this Viking influence remained in the blood of some of the Murdochs throughout all the centuries - there are still some Murdochs with fair hair with a reddish colour and blue eyes'.

You're right about William's familiarity with the sea and seagoing craft from an early age, Maureen. Ilya was able to show me the point at Kippford - the 'Wee Pier', wasn't it, Ilya? - where William as a child with his friends would emerge after swimming down the Urr from Dalbeattie with the outgoing tide. They'd get lemonade from his cousin's house, then return with the incoming tide. There are also a few anecdotes that remain from his childhood - such as how he would earn a bit of money by helping the ships moor.

Ing
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Thanks Ing for the information on the childhood William Murdoch. See, to me there is difference between a person who falls in love with something and learns it as an adult and a child whose life is filled with it that it becomes second nature.

The adult will scan their brain stores in an emergency for the right regulation or process, but the person steeped in it for their entire life, becomes like a conductor and the music, they are one with the ship and the water and the emergency and just know what to do and do not panic. But that is just me.

Thanks so much Ing. And I laughed at the Crocodile Dundee 45 rpm thing...I can just see you doing that out of excitement...and I'll bet that is the very reason that they savor those phone calls too!
Enjoy your day.
Maureen.
 
S

Susan Markowitz

Guest
Thanks, Ilya, for the fascinating (and witty!) insights! These are the sort of "gems" that those of us who are interested in the "people-side" of Titanic are clamoring for. I do hope that one day, when you are not overwhelmed with your studies and your duties, you will record them in a book and/or a website. It's not merely the information you're imparting, but the wonderful way you recount it that makes reading your posts so enjoyable.

Reading them alongside Ing's, I can see how beautifully your styles complement one another, and what a great research-team you'd make. :)

As for the Vikings -- just a snippet here, but the 1,000-year anniversary of the Vikings' landing in North America was recently reenacted by 13 replica Viking ships, led by the "Islendingur", that reached Newfoundland on July 28. Fi and I had hoped to "make the scene", but were unable to get to NF in the brief time she had in North America.
All the same, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that Ilya and his family have a bit of the "Viking" in them! ;-)

Regards to all -- Susan
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Whooooops - some of my message above should be labelled 'speculation' not 'fact'! That bit about the Wee Pier, for example ;-) But yes, he did have a childhood immersed in the seafaring environement. I don't know whether there's any evidence as to whether Murdoch embraced his career enthusiastically or whether it was simply expected of him (or some combination of the two), but given his talent in the field one would hope it was a personal choice and not simply familial expectation.

Thanks for the kind words, Suze and Maureen :) Susan, you and Fi need to get up to York for some of the fascinating exhibits they have there about the city's Viking past. Also Scarborough, which is named after a Viking.

All the best,

Ing
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Ilya,
Thought I would post this here under San Francisco due to the Murdoch tie-in.

Joseph Conrad was born on 1857 in Poland/Russia to a family who were in the "szlachta" class-just below aristocracy. He spoke Russian. When his parents died, he was raised by an uncle in Cracow until 1874. He went to France for a few years. Mastered French and also mastered seamanship while living in France. He learned how to manuever on "pilot boats".

In 1878, he went to live in England with idea of becoming an officer on a British Ship. Conrad served 20 years at sea. And eventually became a Ship Master. But Conrad suffered a serious back injury at some point.

1899 was a turning point for him and he began to write books in his third language!

Conrad wrote against colonialism. He married in 1896 when he was 37 and his wife 21.

It would be interesting to try to come up with sailings from each of the men's lives...Samuel Murdoch (William's dad) and Joseph Conrad to see where they intersect.
Just some of my little bits of information.
Maureen.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hallo, Maureen, and thanks for that precis of Conrad's career. Conrad is indeed an enthralling writer (in edition to his fictional works, I found some of his comments on the Titanic disaster very interesting indeed - particularly his reaction to the idea that Murdoch should have rammed the berg bow-on).

The logs for his ships are held in the 'Celebrated Ships' class at the PRO, and every time I scroll down past them I wish I had time to have a bit of a sticky beak at them.

I understand that some of the Murdoch researchers have started looking the possible connections :)

All the best,

Ing
 
Dec 12, 1999
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I would like to follow up on the San Francisco-Australia connection. I just learned from a usually reliable source on San Francisco history that the Richmond district, in San Francisco, was named by an Australian - - who apparently got the name from a district in Melbourne. This man built a house near 12th Street and Clements, in that area of the city.

You know, I may have run into Inger while she was here. On the evening of September 18, at about 8:00 p.m., I was cavorting near Alioto's at Fisherman's Wharf - - waiting in line at an ATM machine. These two women (of approximately Inger's age) in front of me were taking the longest time. It seemed their efforts were to no avail. Finally, as they walked away I asked them "Doesn't it work?" With a heavy Aussie accent one of them told me that it was just a different system which they weren't familiar with. Then, they walked away before I could even say "Murdoch."
 
J

James Eldridge

Guest
Greetings,

There is a Jack London square in Oakland right at the marina and a little museum also with many artifacts from his life including models of ships, etc. I think there's a state park where his home was seems as though it burned down while he was building it.

Thanks Ilya for the Oakland info,...it saves me the trouble of bothering the local officials for records. Many of the old residences in the port area were built with a cupola in the roof to watch the ships in the bay and several of these homes have been preserved. One of the properties I used to own in Berkely was part of the Captain Smith tract, no relation to EJ though, but just shows how many mariners made their homes in the east bay.

San Francisco (not 'Frisco') often turns up the hulks of the Gold Rush era ships that were abandoned by their crews when they arrived to search for gold and then the hulks became saloons, brothels and hotels on the Barbary Coast. I remember when we were digging the foundation for a new office building back in 1978 we found the Niantic. The ship had been a general store and saloon and when it burned was covered up by the foundation of a new building. There it remained a time capsule until that building was torn down revealing it along with many valauble finds like a boxed set of Colt pistols, bolts of cloth and pottery from China.

Sorry if I digressed a bit here;-)

Eldridge
 
Dec 12, 1999
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How do you do, James.

I see you're a Bay Area Titanic buff. Regarding the ship's hull, I think another of them was found about four years ago when the train tunnel was being dug out in the Embarcadero area.

Did you know that the Hyde Street pier (located near the Maritime Museum) used to be an extension where a car ferry picked cars up and took them across the Bay? That service apparently went out in the 1940s.

Have you been to the Elkan Gunst Building, or the Mutual Building?

(see http://communities.msn.com/jshomispictures, or click on "The Titanic Story In San Francisco" under ET's Links-General).

I'm trying to find out more about a ferry accident that I think occurred in the 1920s. I had an 83 year old lady for a client who mentioned this to me. Apparently, the ferry sank while traveling between Oakland and San Francisco, with significant loss of life. Have you ever heard of this? If so, please email me at jshomi@hotmail.com. Thanks.

Glad to meet you. Is Illya in the Bay Area, too? Welcome all.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Joe -

Lol! Oh, so that mysterious, seductive stranger I ran into on the streets of SF was you? ;-) Ships that pass in the night...

Nah, I left on the 11th September - although the idea of me gazing bemused at a cash machine is pretty in keeping with my character and technical ineptitude :) If, on the other hand, you had seen a young woman with a dark haired bloke sitting in a seafood restaurant on pier 39, with her downing daiquiries and building a formidable collection of chintzy tourist glasses that they give away free with cocktails...well....that's rather closer to the mark :)

Now to go have a stickybeak at these San Francisco links...I was given the maritime tour from Oaklands to Vallejo, and will be interested in your site's take on it all :)

Ilya currently has a whole swag of exams, so I don't know when he'll be able to drop in - hopefully he'll stick his nose in here if he gets a few minutes.

Ing
 
J

James Eldridge

Guest
Hi Joe,

Interesting news indeed! No, I haven't heard of a ferry accident but I know the North Western Pacific Railroad had ferry service for both people and carfloats into SF and the East Bay until the 1940's. I haven't any background on those buildings myself but do know them. Chief Biggy had an unfortunate accident while crossing the bay to the Marin side in about 1900. He never made it having either fallen or been pushed off the police boat he was riding. It seems he was an outsider appointed to clean house of corruption from the SFPD and they didn't care for the idea.

I think Ilya is at the Maritime Academy. True???

Have you ever been to the old China Warehouse? Its one of the oldest buildings in town and ships used to be able to dock infront of the doors to unload until landfill projects pushed the bay further out to where its is now. I think after several fires, abandonment and homeless invasions it has finally been turned into shops and restaurants.


James
 
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James Eldridge

Guest
Hi Inger,

Pier 39 is way too touristy for you! Next time you come let me know and I'll give you a list of some better places to enjoy the maritime flavor of the Bay Area without all the tourist stuff. There's Quinn's Lighthouse on the Oakland Embarcadero that was an original lighthouse from the bay and one of the first in the official lighthouse service before it closed and was moved to its present location. The place has a view of Coast Guard Island and has the ambience of a New England seaport. The grubs not bad either and they have over 100 types of beer.

James
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Lol! Hallo, James -

Ilya thoroughly agrees with you about Pier 39 being far too much given over to tourists and all their trappings. I quite thouroughly disgusted him by asking to go there, but was revisiting my childhood :) There were a few landmarks I remembered from 17 years ago, and I wanted photos of them to send to my family (the Fisherman's Wharf sign with the crab was one). I also wanted a good daiquiri or two, as I find them hard to get over here.

You'll be happy to know that we did do some other poking around into areas not quite as infused with the spirit of plastic crab fridge magnets etc. - he gave me a tour of some of the residential areas where seafarers settled, and his own history of sailing out of the City and areas nearby.

Would be happy to look you up when I'm next in town, which should be in a couple of months. Reciprocal invitation goes for London, although local East End maritime sites are largely limited to where James Moody crammed for his Master's examination...some nice restoration down in docklands, though. More interesting is the City itself.

Ilya is indeed studying at CMA.

Ing
 

Jason D. Tiller

Moderator
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Dec 3, 2000
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Niagara Falls, Ontario
Hi llya and Inger,

Thank you both for the wonderful information on William Murdoch. It was very interesting to read.

I agree with Maureen and Susan, you would make a great team with all your research.

Best regards,

Jason
 
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James Eldridge

Guest
Hi Inger,

Thanks for the invitation. I usually get to London about once a year and its nice to know I have another friend there to lookup.

I was watching ANTR and Cameron's Titanic again last night and thought Murdoch was shown in a better light in ANTR than in the Cameron film. I don't think he was at all like the character that Cameron created for his project, but I'm not an expert what did you think of these two portraits of the First Officer? I think I would sue if I was a family member myself and if this is too much a pedestrian question than please excuse it;-)

James
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Kunta Kinte, I found you! I FOUND YOU!

My 83-year-old client was right, there was a ferry disaster in San Francisco. And the ship still exists! The ferry's original name was "Peralta." It was built in 1925 in Oakland. On February 17, 1928, it partially submerged when ballast was improperly distributed - - something like Chicago's Eastland disaster - - but only 5 people were killed. In May 1933, the Peralta caught fire, and was cut from its moorings. It floated out on the bay until the fire was put out. Rather than restore the ship, Peralta was sold to a Seattle company, refurbished and named the Kalakala. Re-launched in 1935, the Kalakala served as a ferry for many years, until it was beached in the 1970s. The ship has an exceptionally unusually art deco style design. I encourage everyone to take a look at it:

http://www.kalakala.org
 

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