Sea History 155 - Summer 2016

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Sranford, rhe founders and ar rhe rime very hands-on managers ofSourh Streer Seaport Museum. I recall being impressed rhar Perer was wea ring a rie, his suir jacker hanging on a belaying pin, while varnishing rhe ship's wheel. Norma had a bru sh in hand as well. Rybka asked to be pur to work, and, afrer some discussion as to whar rask he wo uld be besr suired for a guy wirh a ser of woodworking tools on an iron ship, he was given a rask-painting rhe iron hub of the wheel. Insrant parriciparion came with a handshake, such was improvisarional informality of rhe rime. South Street Seaport Museum was in its infa ncy, carving out an urban Robinson Crusoe exisrence of the derelict remains of a once thriving maritime civilization. During rhose early yea rs, rhe museum acquired orher vessels-the lighrship Ambrose, rhe schooners Lettie G. Howard and Pioneer, and rhe Flying P Liner Peking-and developed exhibits to carry rhe museum's message. Visirs to rhe museum lefr a las ting impress ion on Joe Meany: There were exhibits, m emorable ones rhar Perer and Norma created from scratch. One I remember in particular was Seaport City: New York, 1776, done for rhe bicentennial of rhe American Revolurion. Ir was a small exhibit, jusr a storefront really, bur unique in rhar ir had examples of all rhe cargoes broughr to New York by sea. You could smell rhose commodities and run yo ur hands into sacks of spices-nor exacrly orthodox museum practice, bur an experience visirors, especially kids, would nor soon forget. And rhere were exhibits on rhe ships as well. One I remember aboard rhe Wavertree, poignamly, rhrough lerrers and phorographs, interprered rhe hardships of shipboard life on rhe "Cape Horn Road ." Perer and Norma, self-raughr, were no mean exhibit planners, designers, and fabricators. They did ir all-and did ir well. People were moved. Whar berrer impacr can a museum exhibit have? While South Srreer Seaport Museum was fending off real esrare developers and serring dow n roors, Karl Kortum was urging acrion on orher fronts; one such project was rhe Nariona l Maritime Historical Society. Origi nally incorporated in Washington, D C, wirh lawyer Alan Hurchison ar irs head, NMHS was founded in 1963 to save rhe Sewall-built square-rigger Kaiulani, languishing in rhe Philippines, and bring her to rhe waterfront of our nation's capital as a tangible tie to our nation's maritime past. Emergi ng business commirmenrs m ade it impossible for Hutchison to continue to lead rhe organization, which was struggling. Rarher than allow the group ro disband, Karl Kortum pressed Perer, who had been involved as a member, to step in as president. As Peter explained in A D ream of Taff Ships: "one of the trustees later nored, rhey had come to Washington expecting a funeral, and Perer Stanford jumped our of rhe coffin ." NMHS moved its headquarters to Sourh Street, and thus began a new Aurry of ac riviry, including the founding of the Sea Museums Council (predecessor of the Co uncil of American Maritime Museums), the American Society of Marine Artists, SEA HISTORY 155 , SUMMER 2016

Peter Stanford delights in sharing the "Treasures of Snug Harbor" about the work ofJohn Noble, featured in the Autumn 1983 issue ofSea Hisory, with Tim Pouch (left), Margaret Po rritizi, and Mel Hardin (right) at an eventfor the Staten Island Council on the Arts. and rhe World Ship Trust. To spread rhe word of rhe many new developments, and to share stories of historic ships, and sa ilors who had lived the life, the magazine Sea History was born . The firsr issue of Sea History reporrs news of the museum s that h ave formed the [Sea Museums] C ouncil. Sea H istory wi ll improve com munications berween rhese museums, and between them and th e public who love rhe waters of the earrh and rhe vessels rhar ply rhem, from canoes and canal barges to great square riggers and steamers. The Sea Museums Council and Sea History are the begi nning of a new era of cooperation. Join Us. We welcome yo ur company. (Sea History 1, April 1972, p. 5) With these words, readers were introduced to rhe firsr issue of Sea History, the voice of rhe Narional Mari rime Historical Society. As editor of Sea H istory, Perer guided rhe magazine as ir evolved from a modes r magazine focusing on campaigns to save historic vessels to rhe publicarion we know today, reaching our in all direcrions to gather stories abour naval history, exploration, archaeology, arr, sail training, replicas, museums, and everyrhing in between. For ma ny readers of Sea H istory, however, Perer Sranford was rhe insigh rfu l storyreller who broughr rhem rhe Cape Horn Road , a recurring series wirh a scope as big as history: early sailors in rhe Med irerra nea n, Viking ships, far-reaching journeys of explorarion, rhe emergence of sream power. In laying our his intemion s for rhe series, he explained it thu sly: Ro unding Cape Horn beca me rhe defining ac r rhar marked ships and men as a breed apart. A ship making rhat passage from the Atlanric to the Pacific world is called a Cape Horner. And her people are called Cape Homers. Historically, rhe rounding of Cape Horn was the turning point in rhe voyaging impulse rhar bega n some 5,000 years ago, an impulse rhar finally opened rhe whole world to trade and to rhe inrerchange of peoples and ideas just a few hundred years ago. A defining development, we may agree, in rhe story of mankind.


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