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Old New York p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to give a few samples from interesting out of print books.

In historian Stan Hugill’s 1967 book Sailortown, he includes a letter sent to him by a German named Charlie Muller, aged 91. He described the piers on South Street, New York, in the 1890s.

The old sailor wrote: A street I knew well was South Street, where I used to hang around for days and even weeks. This was around 1892-94 and in 1896, and I remember seeing there such famous ships as the St. Paul and the St. John, and the grand four-mast barque Susquehanna and the Roanoke, and the Shenandoah, and also the four-mast barque John Eno, which flew the Hawaiian flag at that time…I shipped in a three-mast schooner Lena Nelson carrying coal from Newport News. God Almighty, that’s nearly 70 years ago!!

He also wrote of South Street: This was a wonderful street, with all those sailing ships at the piers, sticking their jibbooms right across the street, very near to the houses opposite. And those wonderful smells! And the street hawkers selling fresh oysters and clam chowder and buckwheat cakes! Makes my mouth water still, just thinking about those things. And freshly cooked clams, and a cob with butter, and a large cup of coffee with two doughnuts used to be 5 cents, and for 5 cents you could also get a schooner of beer and eat your fill of a free lunch besides. You know I think it was much nicer in those days. They used to load and discharge the ships with horses on the piers. Those horses just lifted a certain weight, and, if there was one pound more in the sling, that horse would not budge. In South Street you found nothing but chip chandlers and rigger- and sailmaker lofts, and of course a lot fo pubs and boarding-houses. But I did not lodge there. I lived in Brooklyn, in Fulton Street, I suppose that’s all gone too.

He also wrote:

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