Anchors Aweigh!

Mrs. T. B. of Newburyport, Mass., writes:

When I was a little girl staying with my grandparents, they told me we were going to visit old Captain Bottomley, who was a sailor. I had just seen Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra in Anchors Aweigh! so I had a very firm idea of what a sailor looked like. I was most eager!

However, Captain Bottomley was nothing like this. He was about a hundred years old and had a huge goiter. He had old green tattoos on both arms and he had a wooden hand that kept opening and closing, going clack-clack-clack like a castanet. He was so scary that I couldn’t look at the rest of him, and just focused on the wooden hand moving by itself. Clack-clack-clack!

My grandparents pretended nothing was wrong with this, and that Captain Bottomley was just this friendly old man with lots of stories about fighting whales and sailing ships in the olden days. He had shelves full of ships in bottles that he’d made himself, and little sculptures and etchings he had made on whale teeth when he was at sea and being bored.

He told me I could have one of them. In fact, I could have anything in the room, because he was going to die soon, he said. Without even thinking, I said, “Can I have your wooden hand?” Was my face red!

Funny thing was, Captain Bottomley took it off then and there and gave it to me! My grandparents had a big argument about whether I could keep it.

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