"Cheered him and got another shot! Best was, “Stay home tomorrow. Paid for the day!” Oh, thems all cheered."

Doing genealogical research on his family, the author of this book discovered a possible ancestor who walked a similar path in life, sailing around the world in the Navy. Through the author's organizing and transcribing of a collection of found letters, that unnamed man, referred to as an “Old Salt,” has his life captured through each missive to his niece, Judith. Starting his journeys around California, through the Pacific Ocean, and up through Canada and Alaska, his travels during these five years take him through America and Europe as the Old Salt verifies maps and embarks on relief missions for other ships. These letters are more than just a bullet list of ports of call and duties though, describing to a civilian the colorful crews and peculiar behaviors that go hand in hand with life aboard a ship.

Despite being on the surface simply written accounts of the events that occur in a sailor’s life, the composer of these letters does a wonderful job of writing in a natural style, capturing on the page how he must have spoken. Due to the era and the naval lifestyle, this results in a wonderfully unique cadence and vernacular that immediately calls to mind life on the open seas. Even though the author can suppose a shared lineage and kinship as they were both in the Navy, any details of life and background on the correspondent are either covered within the letters or left ambiguous. This simultaneously opens a window to a lifestyle experienced over a century ago while leaving enough to be interpreted by the reader to engage the imagination. These beautifully preserved letters unintentionally allow the history of the time and these events to be shared by all.

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