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tv   1947 Film Shipbuilders of Essex  CSPAN  December 20, 2014 8:00am-8:26am EST

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>> each week, american history tv's "reel america" brings you archival films that help tell the story of the 20th century. "shipbuilders of essex" is a 1947 film documenting the construction of the st. rosalie, a 65 foot wooden fishing trawler. following the progress to the
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launching ceremony, the handmade methods have changed little since the 19th century. ♪ ♪ >> in the middle 1800s, the famous wooden ships that carried american goods were built in towns like essex in the state of massachusetts.
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today, wooden vessels are still preferred by many fishermen, like me. from newfoundland. when a sea captain wants a ship built of wood, he turns to a place like essex where men build ships of wood by hand. more than 3000 ships have been constructed since the earliest days of settlement. in north america. in this village of 1500 people, men still choose to practice the craft of their forefathers. ever since the year 1668, seafaring men have come to essex to have vessels built. ♪ ♪ here i was, back in essex at
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last, for my own ship. ♪ the town looked just the way i had seen it years before. of course, there were electric lights and automobiles now, but essex felt just the same. ♪ ♪ at last, i was heading for stories office. i had written johnston story i was coming and the story family has been building ships in essex for over 100 years. i want to jonathan and his men to build me mine. meeting him again after 30 years was a surprise. it was so natural, like visiting with the neighbor. plans for my ship had been drawn
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up, a scale model had been made. it was perfect. naturally, i made a few suggestions. my ship would be a 70 foot dragger able to pull 50 ton of fish in a dragnet. i named her st. rosalie. work began. up in the mold loft of roy hodges started squaring off the timber. my life settled in and essex to watch my ship grow. it was time for school to start in the fall. of course, boys everywhere have their own calendar for doing things.
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dale cox had ideas of his own. but so did truant officer mitchell. the folks in essex no they must raise good citizens with good schooling to carry on the shipbuilders craft. dale must learn, it takes a long time for good things to happen. it takes a long time to draft the plans for a ship. exactly the right angle has to be drawn for each rib. old lou knows that. he has sinned more than a score of ships launched at the store yours.
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-- store yards. the grain and quality of every piece of wood is estimated for its particular use before one piece is cut. it has its own special angle, shape, and size. time passes quickly when there is work to be done. by the time them at the yard start working on the kill were rolling the pieces and one, the essex river was teaming. alewives are a tradition in essex. these fish come up the river to spawn. since they rightfully belong to
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everyone in essex, must be purchase for the town. the board of selectmen elected , managers of the town choose the highest bid from those submitted. anyone in town can make a bid. some years, when the fish are few, no one is permitted to take the fish from the river. this year, a newcomer to town is the lucky winter. -- the lucky winner. in essex, time for men to take on an extra job. it might surprise a city man to seem how they have the mac of doing so many different things. -- they have that knack of doing so many different things. louis gauge the time he had is catch ready for market and the
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same day the keel of the saint rosalie was turned. was not a man on the yard that do not lean to that day in building the ship was a great event. the keel is the backbone of a vessel. from here on, building up, you see a ship come to life. the ribs are hauled into place. no man in the shipyard has just one job to do. everyone must turn to a variety of tasks. even the skilled draftsman lends a hand. one block and tackle are put to work. when you see the ribs lineup you , can figure how important it is to have accurate design and you can see the products of weeks and weeks of work. the vessel takes shape. now you can tell how she will look, how she will ride. that day, the st. rosalie was the talk of essex. they were building a ship.
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i was worrying it together. story and his men were working it. there was a feeling -- bystanders adding their two cents. every man in the shipyard takes part in so much. the men have never wander down the road to the big industrial cities. in the factories, they are building, too, i guess, and i suspect no factory worker can quite experience the sense of satisfaction and essex shipbuilder feels. they are worlds apart. the men in essex choose to live differently. somehow, it seems folks do not figure modern speed is so important. that means work by hand.
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they are satisfied serving a need to the fisherman who want wooden ships. it was cold when the planks -- were steamed. to make them fit tight, you have to put them into a steaming box to make them pliable. when they are hot and ready, you take them out and put them into place. jonathan story supervised every step of the operation, made me comfortable to know he was always on the job. but planking is the one thing between you and the bottom of the sea. it was planked with hard pine below the waterline and hard oak above. -- planks were waiting weighty.every --
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piece was set in place with wooden pegs. every peg meant years of working and saving. i got a thrill watching each blow of the hammer. the vessel was going to be my home for weeks, months. the st. rosalie had to be built just right. the folks in essex understand how a skipper feels. it was time for the formal inspection. it was spring. as if i did not know how that st. rosalie was going along. everyone in the yard was concerned. now the men who were working on the boat would get their first pay. i found dozens of things wrong
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with the work. benefit of the boss. i even suggested the ship would sink. i paid some cast them when i ordered the vessel. thatthe work was done, money would go to other such things. when the ship was half done, i wish to put up more money, not just materials, but the first pay for the men. it was at the time of my inspection that the folks of essex were meeting afternoons at the town hall, rehearsing for the annual springtime musical review. as you might expect in essex sailors got the center stage. , ♪
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the spring show is an old tradition in essex. the neighbors work together and enjoy their community. it provides a good excuse. ♪ when i made my second payment, it was time for celebration. ♪ a shuttle party, it's called. ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ my, how the work progressed. day follow day in the first thing you knew, the structure was up. the fittings were in. the ship was getting fancy trimmings. as the saint rosalie was getting some of the looks by which a skipper at sea would come to know it and respect that.
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the vessel made of essex. ♪ the decks were cleared. the ship was tidied up. -- the chips swept away. it was time for the story's to feel proud, too. father story had good reason to be pleased. everyone at the yard new how pleased i was. how proud. there she was, that st. rosalie. the town planning commission met. on the day the rosalie got her
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letters. in essex, almost everybody takes part in running the town. there have always been enough men and women to work, without pay in most cases. the planning commission met the -- because there was some concern about the town's athletic field. some other problems besides building my ship. ♪ naturally, if you ask me what to do for children when they are not in school, i would give you an easy answer. send them to sea. at last, the great day arrived. the st. rosalie was all dressed up and ready to be launched. i daresay every man and woman
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and child in essex turned out for the launching. almost everyone. only about six or eight launching's a year in essex. naturally, such an event is regarded as considerably important. now the pens are being knocked away. the saint rosalie was ready to slide into the water. only the christening remained. unmarried myself i asked the , first mate's wife to christen the ship. she agreed. there was the first entry for my ship's log. wife of the first mate christened the st. rosalie. her name was maria.
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[bells ringing] the church bells in essex were ringing for the st. rosalie. it seems there was another reason. i learned it was not only the st. rosalie was launched that day. i found out that everybody went to the launching. -- not everyone went to the launching. some went to the church instead. i was proud. the young couple would always remember they were married on the day the st. rosalie was launched. as we idled down the river to the ocean and i began to feel
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the ship under me, i thought to myself, if ever i give up the sea, there is the town i would like to live. of course, i do not intend to give up the sea, but if i ever should, i think it is essex i would make my home. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> according to the essex
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shipbuilding museum, the wooden fishing ship st. rosalie fished with a variety of owners up until 1994. when she was broken up and discarded. this film was part of the collection of thousands of government produced films that can be viewed online at the public resource youtube channel. and also at, the internet archive. here are some of the programs you will find this weekend on the c-span networks -- tonight at 9:30 p.m. on c-span, actor seth reverend assesses at thes and humor harvard institute of politics. sunday evening at 8:00 p.m. on q and a, author and on thekatie pavlich hypocrisy of liberals. on c-span2 tonight at 10:00 p.m., the argument that the top
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universities are missing the mark in education and students should learn lessons how to think critically and be creative and have a goal in life the on the material. sunday morning, before 11:00, book tv visits lafayette, west lafayette indiana to interview cities authors and tour its literary sites. on american history tv on c-span3, today at 6:00 p.m. eastern on the civil war, and historian talks about the life of irish american soldier patrick clayburgh and his wife -- and his role in the confederate army in tennessee. sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. on real america coming 1974 investigative piece by san francisco's kron-tv on the history of police brutality in neighboring oakland. find the complete schedule at and let us note you think about the programs you're watching. us orn call us or e-mail send us a tweet.
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join the c-span conversation and like us on facebookor follow us on twitter. here's a look at the programs you will find christmas day on the c-span networks. holiday festivities start at 10 a.m. eastern with the lighting of the national christmas tree followed by the white house christmas decorations with first lady michelle obama and the lighting of the capitol christmas tree. just after 12:30 p.m., celebrity activists talked about their causes. at 8:00, supreme court justice alito and jeb bush on the bill of rights and the founding fathers. on c-span2 at 10:00 a.m. eastern, the art of good writing. at 12:30 p.m., the feminist side of the superhero. p.m., reading habits. on american history tv on c-span3 at 8:00 a.m. eastern, the fall of the berlin wall.
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there will be speeches from presidents john kennedy and ronald reagan. at noon, fashion experts on first lady fashion choices and how they represented the styles of the times in which they lived. on his morem brokaw than 50 years of reporting on world events. that is this christmas day on the c-span networks. for a complete schedule, go to coming up next, former white house press secretary's from the ford, reagan, george h w bush, clinton and obama administrations. they talk about how the position has changed over time and some of the difficulties they faced while trying to work for the white house and serve the pressprich the panelists include ronald nesson, marlon fitzwater, mike mccurry, and robert goetz. this event was has to buy the national archives. >>


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