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Epinetus  remembered one of the stories that his father repeated so often. George Parks, once again, whether he wanted to hear it or not, was told that story.

 

“Captian Tanner gave the command to ‘Prepare the ship – – – Gentlemen.’ The deck hands hauled the first ramp back to the wharf and then jumped aboard the ship. The man who appeared to be senior trotted across the deck and down into the hold via the second ramp. He showed Grandfather, Uncle Henry, and the other men tending their animals how to get to the upper deck via a ladder. Soon the senior seaman was joined by the other deck hands. They used a system of pulleys and ropes to raise that second ramp. Once it was in the upmost position the ramp became part of the upper deck railing. Semi-darkness overcame every being in the lower hold. Slowly, here and there, rays of light shone down becoming wider and wider the farther the rays descended. It was as if each light emerged from a star shrouded in fog. Yet Uncle Henry could see no candles or lamps.”

 

“After tending the animals Grandfather and Uncle Henry used the specified ladder and emerged onto the upper deck. Children were running here and there, looking under, over, inside of, and around all the sailing equipment that ships provide for children to discover. Mothers scurried after those children who were getting too close to the ships rails.”

 

 “Uncle Henry’s eyes searched for the magic that made the lower hold bask in the dim pyramids of light. He soon located several octagonal slabs of glass mounted randomly on the floor of the top deck. He swiftly moved back to the ladder he had just used to come up from the hold. Moving down several rungs he stopped with his head at deck level. Popping up and down, like a groundhog at his burrow, Uncle Henry inspected the light sources.”

 

Ship prism 2

 

 

“Uncle Henry first inspected the top and then the bottom of one of those glasses that transmitted the hazy pyramids of light. The top of each glass was octagonal but the bottom was shaped like a cone. The natural color of the glass was clear with a green tint. Each glass was about six inches across the octagon, the top part flat and parallel to the deck. The bottom part of the glass was about eight inches long pointed and downward toward the lower deck; much like an inverted pyramid. Sunlight was captured by the octagon and transmitted down and outward by the shape of the glass prism. My father Horace told me that Uncle Henry seemed to be mesmerized by the design.”

 

Glass Pyramid

 

Epinetus also enjoyed telling George about Captain Tanner.

 

“Captain Tanner’s commanding voice called the passengers together to discuss the schedule.”

 

Epinetus then engaged one of his story telling ‘Captain’s voices’ as best as an old man could.

 

‘The distance to Katskill is sixty-four mile, to Albany one hundred mile. The trip will consume twelve hours of sailing time to Katskill, eighteen hours to Albany. However, we will be putting in at Beacon, Poughkeepsie, Port Ewen and Saugerties. We will be untying the ship in about one hour. Depending on how the wind hits our sail we should be laying up overnight at Poughkeepsie. Once there, and if we load our hold on schedule, we should put back to the river before noon. We should be putting in a Katskill for our second night. Those who have contracted to sail to Albany will reach there at the end of the third day.’”

 

Epinetus then related one of his family’s favorite pastimes to George.

 

© wtomosky

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