Today, the time falls back and we turn our clocks back one hour. When I set the alarm at 12:00 to get up at 6:30, I was anticipating the smart phone to tell me that I would be sleeping for 6½ hours but it said 7½ hours. They really are smart phones!!
Daylight savings seems to be a hot topic. Shall we do it? No one is talking about that on the numerous prolific ads on TV. They seem to focus on why their opponent should not get our vote!! “Sir/Madam, what is your stance on Daylight Savings Time?” Ha!
Here is another time issue that goes back centuries that we learned about at the Railroad Museum. In the mid-19th century, it became apparent that standardization of time was necessary. Train times were set by personal stopwatches and station clocks which varied wildly.
In 1883 there were over 144 local times in North America. The resulting small time differences between adjacent towns and cities were not critical when it took days to travel from place to place. However, with the proliferation of railroads, faster travel became possible across many cities and travelers could sometimes arrive at an earlier local time than the one they had left. Due to this lack of time standardization, schedules on the same tracks often could not be coordinated, resulting in collisions.
In 1883 the railroad established four time zones and standardized time. People were resistant about big business controlling their lives and debated the constitutionality of the government controlling something as natural as time. Sounds familiar???
We are getting ready to get on the train, and I’m reminded about learning about The Harvey House, the first restaurant chain. It was popular along the railroads as there were more and more passengers needing a rest stop. Young single ladies were servers at the eating houses at stops. Meals were ordered ahead of time and on the table when the passengers arrived … and they would even provide entertainment. Everything has a life cycle, and these are no more. There was even one near my hometown in Lakin, KS.
On the cruise we met a couple that wanted us to play Bridge. Well, we didn’t come on this trip to play card games. She was just learning and taking Bridge lessons. When she cornered us, she asked for our room number. I told her. Rob told me to give her the wrong number!
Anyway, at happy hour, we played and got really good cards. We skunked them despite her admission of cheating while scorekeeping. Her rules were different (We think that she made them up.) Game 1: no one is vulnerable. Ok Game 2: North/South are vulnerable and we were because we won the previous hand. Game 3: East/West are vulnerable “No, you’re not.” She said that we were playing party bridge and this is how you do it???” Whatever … just deal but I have never played party Bridge like this. Game 4: We are both vulnerable. Yeah, right!!!
To win the card game, it is called a rubber. You must win two out of three so if each of you have game, it is called the rubber match. You often hear that term in baseball when two teams are playing three games and each has won a game so the third one is called the rubber match. I heard one female announcer call it the rubber band match!!! I guess she doesn’t play Bridge!!!!!
We had an indepth discussion from our ship historian about pirates. Pirates were most active from 1680-1730 when there was a lot of transatlantic activity. By the 1730’s, wars slowed and patrols were more present.
Cities were ridden with crime and disease. There was a large disparity of lower and upper class making it impossible for young men to get ahead. After one year on a pirate ship, one could amass tremendous wealth that would serve as a catalyst for going into business. These young men didn’t want others to know about their lives as pirates…and they weren’t pirates for life. The Whydah Gally full of silver is the only authenticated Golden Age shipwreck ever discovered. In 1984 the wreck was found off the coast of Cape Cod.
History shows that crime often follows on the heels of war. The Civil War was followed with gangs in the west like the Dalton gang. After WWI, we had gangsters such as Al Capone. Wars in Somalia produced pirates in the Red Sea. In Malaysia voyages have a daily pirate report along with a weather report.
Pirates are looking for three things: treasure, crew, and ships.
Treasure or bootie wanted was gold and silver, jewelry and coins. These could be used to trade goods. Spanish plate fleets or silver fleets heading for Cadiz, Spain were often targeted. The pirate ships would rendezvous in the basin of the Caribbean in the early spring to avoid hurricane season.
They would target both outbound and inbound ships. They also would target slave ships and undercut the market. Slaves welcomed the pirate ships as they would get better treatment. Eventually, Spanish galleons sailed with the cargo loads for protection.
Aside from the crew, a pirate ship needed a cook, navigator, surgeon, and sometimes musicians. According to our historian The Crimson Pirate went into battle with an entire band of horns and flutes playing. Pirate crews had worked on other ships with the military or merchants. Everything was voted upon so one could say that it was an early democracy. The only exceptions were during storms or battles and then the captain gave the orders. Crews were a collection of cultures from all over the world. Fishermen from Assateague were captured and forced to service.
Pirate ships were always looking to upgrade. For maintenance, they had to clean out the hull by keeling the ship over on one side, then to the other side. Sometimes it’s just easier to get a new ship. When they took over another ship, the goods had no taxes. The crew would run to the food lockers before the treasure. A popular 18th century dish was called salmagundi and is served in Williamsburg today. It is similar to a chef’s salad.
A privateer is a hired pirate. The privateer had a letter from the military of a government so they were acting as their agent. Military ships were few so they enlisted merchant ships. This letter was so important that it was sewn into their clothing. They needed that piece of paper to avoid hanging as a pirate.
A buccaneer is a terrestrial pirate. St. Augustine, Florida has a great pirate museum.
A flag with skull and crossbones is recognized all over the world as death. This originated with the pirates as a form of psychological warfare
Captain Kidd was a privateer or hired pirate. Trinity Church on Wall Street in New York City has a plaque of Captain Kidd who financially supported the building of the church. He was tried in London, tarred and feathered, and was hung. The first time, the rope broke. The laws said that he should be released as this was seen as an act of God. They hung him a second time anyway.
Edward Teach aka Blackbeard was the most notorious with his favorite ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. He shot his men just for fun. Blackbeard had a long beard and would board a ship with smoke in the air and light his beard on fire. In his final battle, his head was was cut off to collect a reward. It was placed for years on a pole at the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay to warn pirates and greet ships. Hmm. There is a park and accompanying historical marker. We should go see it. Apparently there is a reenactment of the final battle in Hampton, VA for the annual Blackbeard Festival each June. Who knew?! Hopefully, no one loses their head! Cooler heads prevail!
As a sidenote, when Rob and I were first married, we lived in a townhouse with an unfinished basement where our washer and dryer were located. When I would go down to do laundry, I would come across some shiny black beetles. I would step on them and leave them. Soon after, Rob went down into the basement and returned asking, “There are a lot of dead beetles on the basement floor. I wonder what is killing them?”
“Me,”I replied to my perplexed husband. “I am leaving it as a deterrent to other beetles… If you come this way, this is what will happen to you.” An archaic form of pest control. I’m not sure how effective it was because I never witnessed a beetle turn back!!
Books about Pirates
- The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down by Colin Woodard
- Under The Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates by David Cordingly
The Mediterranean Sea had a big pirate problem. As a 25-year-old nobleman Julius Caesar was taken by a pirate ship that demanded a random of 20 talents. Julius Caesar said that it was too low. 50. The random was paid and he returned to the island and captured them all and had them crucified. Now who is more ruthless? Pirates or Caesars??
Well, time to go home!!! This is the end of our cruise. We learned more about our “backyard” and have a greater appreciation for The Chesapeake Bay. We read that recently several senators have proposed that The Chesapeake Bay become a National Park. Hmmm. Stay tuned.