Sunday, December 21, 2008

Henry Pratt's Memories XXVIII

Continuing with the Record article:
The trip to Chicago was also a memorable experience. The little tugboat pulled the big boat through the canal to the St. Joe River and from there it would go on its own steam. "One could take a stateroom, spend the night on the boat--a day in Chicago and then return at night. Travel time was four hours to Chigago. A wonderful trip."
Personal note: Four hours seems like too short a time to go from St. Joe to Chicago, but what do I know? The only time I went across Lake Michigan on a boat was in the 50's when I was Division Superintendent for the natural gas pipeline company. I needed to go to Wisconsin on some pipeline business and to take an expert welder over there for a special job. We left Grand Rapids but instead of driving all the way around by Chicago we decided to take the Milwaukee Clipper out of Muskegon to get to Wisconsin. Bad mistake. While waiting for the Clipper to leave Muskegon Lake we ordered dinner. I remember I had prime rib rare. Worse mistake. As soon as the boat entered Lake Michigan and began to roll a little I started to feel queasy. This surprised me since during the War I spent about 60 days on various Navy ships during voyages on the Pacific from Hawaii to Guadalcanal to Okinawa to Korea and back to Seattle and never got seasick. And that included going through a typhoon between Okinawa and Korea. Lake Michigan must have a different rhythm than the Pacific.
Leaving the welder enjoying his meal in the dining room I headed forward getting sicker and sicker until I got to the very bow where I spent the next six hours in utter misery. I don't remember feeding the fishes but I do remember considering quick death as the preferable alternative to what I was going through. As soon as the boat passed the breakwater and entered the calm of Milwaukee Harbor I was perfectly OK again and we went about our business. But you can be sure I gladly drove around on land through all the cities and traffic of southern Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana in order to get back to Michigan (there were no Interstates then).
(emailed August 1, 2008)

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