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Ruth E. Pember: 1901

Ruth E. Pember: 1901

Circa 1901. "Ruth. E Pember at sail." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Re: "Signal letters KSWR"

At least as far back as the late 1870s, registered US (and British) vessels were given 4 letter codes as a part of the International Code of Signals. This was, of course, before radio. The signals were made by flag, semaphore, or by night beacons and a 4 letter code was easier and usually quicker to signal than spelling out a name, especially when considering the code flags originally consisted of only consonants. When radio came along, the system was continued and is still in use today.

Follow that cod

After floating from Brown's yard in Staten Island, the schooner was fitted with a 50-horsepower gasoline motor at Commercial Wharf in Brooklyn. She went into service as part of the Fulton Fish Market fleet. Captained by F.M. Redmond, who owned her in partnership with John Feeny, she sailed in pursuit of bluefish and mackerel, patrolling seas between Block Island and Cape Hatteras. Redmond was Ruth's uncle.

"Signal letters KSWR"

I'm intrigued by this. As far as I know, very few vessels had radio by 1915 (when the Coast Guard record was entered), so any identifying signal letters would have been flown on coloured signal flags. That is, if the boat wasn't already flying its name on a huge banner!

"KSWR" certainly fits the format of a U.S. maritime radio call-sign. Either the government was routinely allocating call-signs to registered yachts by 1915, or perhaps the identifying letter groups used on signal flags were already in this format.

[Lots of ships had Marconi wireless (radiotelegraph) equipment in 1915. And even farther back. The Titanic, for instance. - Dave]

Capsizing Schooners

Costello: "I once had a schooner capsize on me"
Abbott: "What did you do?"
Costello: "Wiped off the bar and ordered another one!"

Famous Last Words

"There's a wreck near this lighthouse, but our centerboard should clear it."

Re: Schooner beached

From the NYT (undated):
Announcement has been made of the engagement of Ruth Eldridge Pember, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward E. Pember of Hartford, Conn., to Harold Morton Hine. Miss Pember is a graduate of Vassar College, class of 13, and Mr. Hine was graduated from Wesleyan in 1912. No date has been set for the wedding.

AND from the Connecticut Historical Society comes Harold's obit, on 12/22/41, age 54, leaving Ruth, whom he married 4/18/17, and their son, Thomas, Wesleyan 1941.

So, right, they're all dead except maybe Thomas, who was born in 1919.

A Bit More Specific

According to "Merchant Vessels of the United States: (Including Yachts)" published by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915 her specs were:

Official number 111334
Signal letters KSWR
Rig Schooner
Gross tonnage 95 tons
Net tonnage 58 tons
Length 92.3 feet
Breadth 22.8 feet
Depth 9.7 feet
Crew 20
Built 1901, Tottenville, NY
Home Port New York, New York


Our view of photography from a century ago is everyone standing stiffly in the noonday sun. What a great action shot.

Hats off to the Photographer!

Shooting an 8x10 plate from a boat with a large sailing vessel bearing down on you is NO EASY TASK! Kudos to the snapper! Great photograph!

Though are the passing moments frail

Nothing is so timeless as water and sail.

Schooner beached

New York Times, Dec. 17, 1917.

Schooner Beached Near Sandy Hook

The American schooner Ruth E. Pember was beached early yesterday near the Sandy Hook Coast Guard station after having been seriously damaged in collision with a submerged wreck one and a half miles northwest of the Scotland Lightship. The vessel is 95 tons register, built in 1901 at Tottenville, Staten Island, and owned by John F. Cohn.

So, 95 tons. Would that be the same vessel?

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