Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grace Arrives Safely

Postmarked, "NORFOLK, VA MAY 11, 12:30 PM 1931"  Addressed to "Mrs. Mattie Richardson, 4 Judson St., Haverhill, Mass."  And the message, "Mon. 7-45 A.M.  Dear Sister & Barbara, Just arriving at Norfolk.  Have had a nice trip.  A little rough & foggy.  Have been able to eat 3 meals a day which is more than most can say.  Grace"  Sounds like an adventure.

The Merchants & Miners Transportation Company was founded in 1852 providing passenger service between Boston and Baltimore.  Eventually, it would push routes south, beginning service to Miami in the twentieth century.  In 1926, the company bought three sister ships from the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company.  I've found a photograph, on the net,  of the particular ship design and it matches the illustration at the top of the card.  The Fairfax, The Chatham, and The Dorchester were used for the Florida run, they carried 314 passengers and 90 crew.  A few automobiles could be carried in the ship's hold for an extra charge.

With American entry into World War 2, the entire fleet of the Merchants & Miners was taken for use as troop transports by the U.S. Army.  The Fairfax survived the war, and after the war's end was sold to a Chinese company and  renamed the Chung Hsing.  The Chatham was torpedoed and sunk of Belle Isle Point, South Carolina,  in 1942.   It was the sinking of The Dorchester that made the news.  On the night of February 3, 1942, the ship was hit by a German torpedo 100 miles from Nassarssauk, Greenland. 675 people out of 906 on board died.

Among the dead were four army chaplains, Father John Washington (Catholic), Reverend Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed), Rabbi Alexander Goode (Jewish) and Rev. George Fox (Methodist).  The four chaplains gave up their life vests to others, and linked arms as the ship slid beneath the surface.  The captain also died.

After the war, the company didn't have enough capital to buy back or replace lost ships.  In 1948 they began liquidating assets and went out of business in 1952, 100 years after the founding of the company.

Because this card is a half tone, lots of little dots, I was unable to get a usable scan with out using the de-screen setting on the scanner.  That's why the images are a bit out of focus.

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