Diaries List

Peter Pinney


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Pinney's Diary - extracts NYC 1948

SAT 17.4.1948
A grey, chill dawn found us anchored between Brooklyn and Staten Island; New York was in the hazy distance upriver, appearing as an improbable half-moon of congested skyscrapers. We moved up the Bayoon into the New Jersey State and berthed at the Bayway Esso docks; and on the strength of a $50 draw the ships company straggled ashore to indulge in various forms of dissipation. The Bos'n and Chief Engineer were each fined for trying to sneak Chanel No.5 and other booty ashore without telling Uncle Sam.

A train took me to Pennsylvania Station; from the shrieking and grinding of tortured steel I imagined the infernal machine was about to disintegrate, and I thought it was a hell of a contraption to have in New York. Penn Station proved to be in the midst of the main shopping area, near 6th Ave and Gimbell's, Crawfords, and Macy's: the last is the biggest store in the world.

No one had the clothes I wanted, for they weren't in season or the latest fashion, but I had no difficulty in liquidation my $50. I wandered up Broadway, along 42nd Street and others, and took in the heart of New York. Taken section by section it seems to me very little different to any small modern city, and I kept on wondering where the main part was when actually I was right in it. THe streets were narrower and the shops smaller than I had been led to believe; certainly there was nothing overwhelming. I noticed a large percentage of very pretty girls, well dressed and made up, and a stiff sprawled out on the pavement with a very bashed and bloody face: as I surveyed the scene I decided the best photo angle I had seen all day was the collection of expressions on the group of people..and cops.. gathered round the body. Fear, fascination, and studied nonchalance. I saw a man get his pants ripped on the fender of a truck that was a trifle too quick for him, and a harassed mother struggling through a crowd with her luckless bairn dangling upside down and hollering like a champion...On the whole it was like other normal cities I have been in, and I was only reminded of the more spectacular side when I glanced up at an occasional skyscraper. The blazing lights in 47th Street and Broadway are something I've not seen before - whirling, flashing , glittering neon signs of garish colours, covering whole sides of buildings. The chief religion in the USA seems to be Advertism.

SUN 18.4.48
Cassidy, the juniors 3rd Engineer and Mate and I had a look inside a brace of whiskey bottles this morning to celebrate something or other, and when we found the ship was to be moved close to Brooklyn we gave a lot of advice from the depths of the Third's cabin. He was supposed to be on watch. We anchored out. Cassidy and I went ashore with the junior 3rd mate to a series of rough dives along the waterfront and wound up in the city, on Broadway, imbibing good ale in a bright tavern. I think it was 4am when we arrived home. USA beer is a mere 6% compared with Aussie 12 but palatable, egad!