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Stateside With Rosalea: Teaser

Stateside With Rosalea Barker


San Francisco's Biggest Toy – The SS Jeremiah O'Brien

I've just been out playing with the biggest toy in town, the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, which you might remember is the restored WWII Liberty Ship I cruised to Stockton on last year. This weekend she made two cruises, starting each morning by steaming outside the Golden Gate so family and friends could throw wreaths overboard to memorialize those killed in war.

The cruise was also a special salute to the men and women of the armed forces of the United States serving in Afghanistan and Iraq: "We dedicate our cruise to you and pray for your safe return home." And I mean no disrespect when I add, it takes a brave man to wear a kilt on deck out on San Francisco Bay, especially when both hands are occupied with his bagpipes.

I must say I was a little curious, having gone through the bag search and metal detector treatment dockside, at the figure in leather chaps, full-face bike helmet and big black backpack who arrived at the very, very last minute, scampering up the gangplank almost as it was being pulled up on deck. Was he a terrorist? Or a Famous Person in a cunning disguise?

Never did find out but, as on my previous trip, I got to talk to a lot of interesting people from around the country and even learned why it is that these Jeremiah O'Brien folks seem addicted to steam trains as well as to steam ships. It's the smell of steam mixed with oil, one of the volunteers told me. Submariners like the smell of diesel, and... at that point a lady in a kilt interrupted to ask me if I knew the difference between a fairy story and a sea story.

A fairy story, she said, starts "Once upon a time," and a sea story starts, "This ain't no lie."


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