Friday, 11 November 2011
Sepia Saturday: Ten Tens, Through a Lens
As is often customary on landmark occasions, one or two thank-you's are in order. So, I'd like to begin by thanking Alan Burnett and Kat Mortensen for dreaming up this wonderful idea of a place where living memories, carefully researched family histories, and speculative tracings that reach into the past, meet on a weekly basis. I've learnt so much from the stories of other contributors, worldwide, and enjoyed a privileged peep into treasured family albums and collections. Long may it continue.
Okay, now down to business.
For the second week in a row, I make no apology for re-posting. This slightly edited item first saw the light of day in January, 2010, and as Sepia Saturday reaches its first century, it seems perfectly appropriate to write about the very first centenarian I ever knew.
Captain William Clark, or ‘Pop Clark’ as he was known to neighbours, Spent more than fifty years on sailing ships, having left home at 12 years of age to work on a Thames sailing barge.
He graduated to seven week fishing trips on the North Sea and was sailing round Cape Horn when Queen Victoria was celebrating her Diamond Jubilee.
As youngsters, we would sit with mouths gaping wider and wider as he told tales of life under sail and towering seas that threatened to swallow the ship and all hands alike.
He captained a sailing ship for eleven years and took part in several transatlantic races.
I remember him walking up and down the length of his garden to ease his arthritis. For years, the doctors had been telling him his walking days were numbered. In the event, he was still managing the two mile round trip, with the aid of a stick, to tend the grave of his late wife, even after he had reached 100.
I have an abiding memory of him walking to his woodshed in the summer. The sun hat perched lightly on his head was always partially obscured by clouds of smoke from his charred pipe. His objective, to saw logs for the coming winter. He was ever the optimist, and eventually passed away aged 106. The pipe smoking stopped a couple of years beforehand though, as the medics considered it might damage his health.