The end of the Chatfield Manuscript is posted

I’ve come to the end of the transcription process with very mixed emotions, but now I have another long road ahead of me in transcribing Chatfield’s letters to his wife Florentine during the Civil War years.

Anyway, the entire reminiscences are now done and I’ll post a word document for anyone who wants to read it in one take rather than skip from one web page to the next.

I can’t wait to start the primary research project. I’ll seek out his original ship’s logs from the Massachusetts at the Kendall Whaling Museum and thus be better able to cross-correlate the place names during the Pacific whaling fishery sections. A lot of the place names are misspelled or lost to time, so there is a lot of work to go before this can be put into accurate historical context.

The huge shame is that these reminiscences only cover his life to the age of 34. After that, little is known. At least there is nothing like this written record.

“You are all familiar with the life I have led during the last forty years, so I will not allude to it. The writing of the story has been a labor of love, and I have had much pleasure in doing it. Old memories have crowded upon me, and I have found it difficult to avoid making tedious by recording minor incidents common to all seafaring men.

“With all my love, I am your father ….

“AD 1905”


Squid up close

Originally uploaded by dchurbuck.

Saturday’s mission was to catch the last of the spring squid migration and load up on some calimari and some ika-yaki (Japanese grilled squid) as well as bait for later this summer when fluke (summer flounder) fishing begins.

Fisher (my son) and Peter (his godfather and my cousin) launched the boat at 10 and were off the Wianno Cut within an hour, running our jigs down to the bottom and almost immediately pulling in nice 18″ long squid.

Squidding is a total mess. The squid blast out big gouts of ink, covering the boat, our faces, our clothes with black stink. We kept at it for a couple hours, filling a 5-gallon bucket with at least 50 squid. We moved on to look for bluefish, but they are a week away, not a single sign of the choppers was seen yesterday despite some promising looking slicks which the fish make when they tear through the bait.

Squid strike the small jigs because they have laid their eggs and are protecting them from what they think are minnows. Fascinating creature, they change colors rapidly, iridiscent one second, red the next, neon purple, white ….

We cleaned them, cut them into rings, dipped them in tempura batter and tossed them into the deep fryer. Sunburned, a couple beers to wash them down, and all were happy with a nice May hunter-gatherer dinner.

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