Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Edge of the World

If you've been reading this blog, then you know that together with my passion for building a historical representation of the European and American glass fishing floats, I also have a keen interest in the history of the user's and makers of the floats. My findings come from such diverse locations. What happened to me yesterday, is an example of why I think that it is always important to imagine, and to keep the doors open to possibilities.

My crew and I started the day with another cleanup project. The sun was shining, and the temperature was excellent for working. It was early in the A.M., and the sun was not yet hot enough to keep the gnats off us. Thank goodness for, "Skin So Soft!"

As we worked, the sky began to cloud up, and looking North and West, it was apparent that something was moving our way. I left the crew to check out the weather map on the computer, and when I did, saw a tremendous line of thunder storms just crossing the Delaware River, and heading in our direction.

I turned on the TV to see the Weather Channel, and heard the storm warning beeping, and read about a severe line of thunder storms, lightening strikes, and possibly hail. Please no hail! Hail destroys the leaves on all the growing plants, and can damage the greenhouse coverings.

Quickly, I began to prepare everything: close all the doors; turn the fans off; make certain everything that could blow over or away-was inside and released the crew to get them home safe.

I knew that I had 15 to 30 minutes before the storms would reach us. Interactive weather maps with radar are terrific. So, I decided to see what might be on the morning's movies-157 channels, and hopefully something good was on. There was an old movie on The Movie Channel, showing in about an hour. It was called, "The Edge of the World." A 1937 movie, with the description, "lives of the dwellers of the Scottish Coastal Islands". Hmm. That sounded interesting, and the year of the film was at a key point in Herring fishing and glass float history. I began to hear thunder approaching.

The sky fully darkened with thick black/gray clouds, and the thunder became more ominous. Quickly, we were in the middle of a terrific thunder and lightening storm, with heavy rain falling. Beautiful rain with it's complement of airborne fertilizer, and the addition of the electrical ions from the lightening. All of the plants and trees would be happy. Here, in this small area of Southern New Jersey, we were in luck, because there was little wind with the portion of the storm line that hit us. The storm passed, and headed East. Luckily there were no blown over plants to pick up, and no hail had fallen. "A perfect storm."

The crew was off for the rest of the day, and I remembered the movie. Turning it on, I realized that only a few minutes had been missed. This is all being written because I want to alert you to keep your eyes open for this movie being played again, or perhaps you can rent it or borrow it from a library. It may even be online.

The movie was not too long. The storyline was well developed for its time length, and a pretty good one. Historically accurate, with excellent old footage of the Scottish island environment, including the surprise of seeing a good amount of film showing the Herring fishing industry. The film was taken during the heyday of Herring trawling, and shows the coal burning trawlers, Lowestoft vessels and their crews, the fish, the packers, and the dock workers. Should you see it, keep your eyes open for the unique mail system they developed between the islands and the mainland. I recommend this film highly to anyone interested in seeing actual footage of the enterprise wherein the glass floats were used in that locale.

Together with the desire to build the best European and American glass float collection that I could, I have been purchasing books, catalogues, and magazines containing information about the fishing history. Anyone who has tried to research glass floats only, knows that there is very little to be found. It has been my experience that in order to learn about floats, most of the knowledge of their use has come from studying the fishing history itself. From the study of the industry, surprises have come, as well as the leads for further investigation. There are some very good books that can be found on Ebay. Search for the books written by David Butcher. The titles that I own are:

Following the Fishing;
The Driftermen;
The Trawlermen
and Living From the Sea.

His books are a wonderful blend of his knowledge together with recorded conversations of the people who experienced those fishing times, both on land, and aboard the fishing vessels. Those conversations make up the bulk of each book, and every one is a great read.

All of the photos were copied from past Ebay postcard auctions, and can be enlarged. Notice the floats next to and behind the fisherman with the huge Halibut.

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