Some extraordinarily well-preserved film footage shot of New York city in 1911.
The most striking thing is that the broad avenues and boulevards are filled with pedestrians. This is not one of those rare festival days when they shut down the streets for people to use – this is normal, every day. The streets were made for walking. Horse carts, cars, and trolleys all share the road. All move at a walking pace, which is why it works.
Also, the windows of the skyscrapers are open. There is no air conditioning in 1911. People live in apartments on the upper floors, with the windows thrown open to the breeze and the sky.
(This is a post started last August; am just getting back to it.)
It will take nearly four hours of driving to get there, to get where the boat is, a boat built by hand in the loft of an old barn. We head out at sunrise while there’s still dew on the grass.
We don’t go east toward the coast, though, where most boats and builders of them live. Instead, we turn and go the other direction – to the southwest into the mountains. Instead of the land of crabs and oysters and skipjacks, we’re going deep into coal and bluegrass and moonshine country.
After 200 miles of driving we’ll still be in Virginia, though just barely. From south of Fries it’s just 10 miles as the crow flies to the Carolina line, and 20 to Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia. This is where Marvin Spencer, proprietor and master craftsman of Brush Creek Yachts, lives and builds boats.
It’s almost time to go. In the morning the Melonseed will get stuffed with gear, leaving a little room to skootch back and forth, tacking upwind all the way back. The tide will be out. Lots of short tacking. Another front is coming through, bringing rain. I’ll try to slip out ahead of it.
Most will wait another day to squeeze out the last few hours they can before heading back. A few plan to leave soon after I do. Beating my way out into the headwind, I see Wesley in his skiff on his way to the island to pick them up. He nods approval as he goes by.