Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   
John the Whale
    Few remember John...his lastname - Kvalstad - "Whalecity"...supposedly, in Norwegian. A big man in stature, though diminshed due to his age when I met him. A nicer fellow you'd ever meet...everyone liked John.
        John sailed as an Able Bodied Seaman...he was a seaman, as so many Norwegians were during the Great Patriotic War - WW2. I met him when I first started sailing as an Ordinary Seaman...we were shipmates on the Mobil Oil tanker Providence Socony back in '51.
        One evening I visited the pilot house just to watch our progress up the East River...I was a dayworker, and had no business up there, but everyone on occasion would visit. On this occasion, I entered the wheelhouse at the moment John was telling the Captain - France P. Gardner middle initial stood for what he was, [1] that he was right...John was saying: "Oh manamo Captain...you were absolutely right!" The Captain came back with: "You think so John...you think the Chief was wrong?", and John repeated: "Oh manamo Captain...you were absolutely right!"
        John had heard the skipper, and the Chief Engineer in a heated discussion in the mess hall just before the change of the watch, and watched the skipper storm out of the messhall, heading to the wheelhouse to relieve the watch...the skipper stood watch on the Providence. John followed a short while later.
        "I think I was right John." continued the Captain. "Vell you tink...vell I'll save you alot tinking, because I knew ( ( know ) John pronounced "know" like "knew" ) you was right, Captain." said John.
Hearing that, the skipper said to me: "Go back aft sonny, and see if the mate is still up...he's probably in the messhall. If he is, send him up here."
        I found the mate still up, and told him the captain wanted him. The Chief was still in the messhall, when the Captain burst in, and told the Chief - Jack Crossways [2] - Chief Engineer, that John The Whale said that he was right, and that he - the Chief was wrong.
        Hearing this, the Chief said: "Well, right after you left, John told me I was right...now what do you think of that?" They both had a good laugh, and the skipper returned to the wheelhouse still laughing.
        It's doubtful the skipper confronted John about this, because everyone liked John...everyone was "right" with John.
        It was a sad night when I had to carry John piggy-back up the ladder to the dock, and his awaiting taxi...his back had finally given in on him, and he, and all of us knew he wasn't returning. None of us knew of his private life, but assumed he lived alone. We never heard from, or of him again.

[1] "middle initial stood for what he was" was always said after saying his name...it became part of his name even if one didn't feel that way.

[2] Cantankerous individual, always whining...seemingly.


Click Here or on Back to Return.