The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220 Message #2875878
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
30-Mar-10 - 03:39 PM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Let's segue from that sort of stevedore-ing to another: the cotton-stowers. Charley Noble, on 16 Feb. 2010, shared the source SOME RECOLLECTIONS by Captain Charles P. Low, 1906.
The author had shipped as a seaman in a packet ship TORONTO from New York to London circa 1844-1844.
Here is a passage noting the connection between "hoosiers", deepwater sailors, and singing chanties:
The Toronto was double the size of the Horatio and every spar and sail was heavy, so as to stand the heavy weather of the North Atlantic. She was fitted to carry one hundred cabin passengers and three or four hundred in the steerage. In those days there were no steamers and as every one had to go to Europe in these packets the cabins were beautifully furnished and the fare was as good as at any hotel in New York. We had a crew of thirty seamen and four ordinaries, no boys. The crew
was made up of the hardest kind of men; they were called "hoosiers,"
working in New Orleans or Mobile during the winter at stowing ships
with cotton, and in the summer sailing in the packet ships. They were
all good chantey men; that is, they could all sing at their work and
were good natured and could work hard, but they did not care much
about the officers and would not be humbugged or hazed. Besides this
large crew, we had as steerage passengers twenty men from the ship
Coromandel, an East India ship that had come home from a two years'
voyage, who were going to London on a spree. The steerage passage cost
only "fifteen dollars and find themselves." They were also a jolly set
of fellows and when we reefed topsails or made sail they all joined in
with us, so that our work was easy and we could reef and hoist all
three topsails at once, with a different song for each one. In the dog
watch, from six to eight in the evening, they would gather on the
forecastle and sing comic songs and negro melodies. There were two or three violins and accordions with them, and the time passed very much more pleasantly than on board the Horatio, where gambling was the order of the day; besides, after being on short allowance for two months I had as much as I could eat.
Whilst unloading cargo in London:
The sailors discharged the cargo and hove the sling
loads up by a winch at the mainmast. If very heavy we took the load to
the capstan; and while we were heaving away, at eleven in the morning,
the sailors struck up "Roll and go for that white pitcher, roll and
go," and the steward would come up with a great pitcher filled with
rum, and give each of us a drink. The same thing was repeated at four
in the afternoon. This was varied when we were taking in cargo, which
consisted of a great deal of railroad iron and we had to pass it in
from a lighter alongside and then down the hold. It was terribly hard
work, and instead of the rum, a quart of beer from the tap room was
brought to each one at eleven in the morning and four in the
afternoon. I do not think we could have held out without it.