Thursday, February 03, 2011

New Bedford road trip

Well I've decided - at some point this summer I'm going on a road trip to New Bedford Massachusetts. I was already thinking about it last year because that's where Frederick Douglass ended up after he escaped from slavery. It was his first home after he got free and he loved it:
I found employment, the third day after my arrival, in stowing a sloop with a load of oil. It was new, dirty, and hard work for me; but I went at it with a glad heart and a willing hand. I was now my own master. It was a happy moment, the rapture of which can be understood only by those who have been slaves. It was the first work, the reward of which was to be entirely my own. There was no Master Hugh standing ready, the moment I earned the money, to rob me of it. I worked that day with a pleasure I had never before experienced. I was at work for myself and newly-married wife. It was to me the starting-point of a new existence. When I got through with that job, I went in pursuit of a job of calking; but such was the strength of prejudice against color, among the white calkers, that they refused to work with me, and of course I could get no employment. [I am told that colored persons can now get employment at calking in New Bedford--a result of anti-slavery effort. did for nearly three years in New Bedford, before I became known to the anti-slavery world.] Finding my trade of no immediate benefit, I threw off my calking habiliments, and prepared myself to do any kind of work I could get to do. Mr. Johnson kindly let me have his wood-horse and saw, and I very soon found myself a plenty of work. There was no work too hard--none too dirty. I was ready to saw wood, shovel coal, carry wood, sweep the chimney, or roll oil casks,--all of which I did.

And then thanks to Wes at A Camera in Some Hands I know that the Manhattan Whaler Bar was inspired by a Whaler Bar that was in New Bedford. It isn't there now - my goal will be to find out where it was and what happened to it. But my daughter's girlfriend, who attended Harvard, used to hang out at the Hungry Whale Pub, which is a dive and a gay bar the locals called "The Hungry Male" according to her - definitely worth a (perhaps quick) look-see.

One place I don't want to go is the Whaling Museum. I just don't want to think about people hurting whales. And Willie the Whaler, as has been established is much too busy hurting his liver to do much damage to whales.