Gastro Obscura: For several centuries, seafaring explorers remained relatively healthy by chugging spruce beer, a drink made by boiling the tree’s green tips. Voyagers recognized the evergreens were a source of nutrients in Scandinavia and the Great White North, even during the most barren and bleak of winters. Ancient Norwegians believed the brew offered strength in battle, enhanced fertility, and kept them healthy during long stretches at sea.
British Tars; 1740-1790: It has been a while since I dug into portrayals of eighteenth century common sailors in mass media. This is largely because there hasn’t been much recently in the way of mass media that includes common tars. That changed last year with the third season of the Starz time-travel-costume-drama-bodice-ripper Outlander.
Outlander is a British-American television drama series based on the historical time travel Outlander series of novels by Diana Gabaldon. Developed by Ronald D. Moore and produced by Sony Pictures Television and Left Bank Pictures for Starz, the show premiered on August 9, 2014. It stars Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall, a married World War II nurse who in 1945 finds herself transported back to the Scotland of 1743, where she encounters the dashing Highland warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and becomes embroiled in the Jacobite risings. more on wikipedia
On growing up in Liverpool: “Because it was a port, so all the guys in the merchant navy… in our neighborhood every other house there was someone in the Merchant Navy, and they were bringing all the records from America, so we had great country, great blues and great rock and roll. We were getting the first printings of rock and roll records that no one had ever heard.” more
“You could always tell the sailors: they were the best dressed. That was my plan – going away to sea. I was in the Sea Scouts. We’d go to a hall and drill, and play with rifles – that was the big thing. I was thrown out because I ran away with a rifle. I never saw a boat. I was never in anything too long; I always did something that annoyed people.” –Ringo’s Story on The Daily Beatle
“I wanted to go deep sea because everybody in our neighbourhood, there was always a lad in any family was in the Merchant Navy. “If you did those coastal boats you stood a good chance of getting in the union and getting your deep sea ticket. Anyway, it only lasted five weeks because they didn’t like my attitude. –Liverpool Echo
Ringo Starr & Peter Sellers on the 2nd voyage of the QE2 on Cruising the Past
The tea table that we now associate with quaint rituals, scones, crustless sandwiches, and charming desserts served on porcelain with sterling silver cutlery was a more political space in the eighteenth century, and antislavery conversations played a big part of the politics of the time.
“If we purchase the commodity,” pamphleteer William Fox wrote in 1791, “we participate in the crime. The slave dealer, the slave holder, and the slave driver, are virtually agents of the consumer, and may be considered as employed and hired by him to procure the commodity.”
His “Address to the People of Great Britain, on the Propriety of Abstaining from West India Sugar and Rum,” teapots like this one were part of the campaign.
Ironclad ram warship built in Bordeaux, France (Originally named Sphynx) in 1864 for the Confederate States Navy as CSS Stonewall. Acquired February 3, 1869 by Japan, the first ironclad of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Scrapped 1888. more on wikipedia
Location & historical notes: New Jersey, established in 1868 to mark the wreck of the SS Scotland. The wreck was removed in 1870 and the station was discontinued. Shipping interests considered the station necessary and therefore it was reestablished in 1874. Moored 3.2 miles and 103 degrees from the Sandy Hook Lighthouse and about 4 1/2 miles westerly from the Ambrose lightship. Used as a reference mark primarily by north-south coastwise traffic using the Sand(y) Hook and Ambrose channels in the approaches to New York Bay. The Scotland radio-beacon was said to have been widely used by commercial aircraft making an approach to Idlewild/JFK airport. The station was replaced by the Scotland Lighted Horn Buoy “S,” which was 0.4 miles and 143 degrees from the final lightship station. more