Tom Schillen Whitney writes:
My father, HARRY SCHILLEN WHITNEY, told me stories of his life in the Merchant Marine.
He always began, "I sailed the seven seas for seven years. I love the sea...." and then
would describe the places he had been or the rough seas he had encountered. He died when I was 16,
but his stories live on. The only record of his time at sea was a picture at the rail
of the CHARLTON HALL NEW YORK. Several years ago I made an attempt to gain some
information about the ship, but was not successful. More recently, I became involved
with genealogy, searching for answers to questions I had never asked. While researching
US Census Records I came across the Merchant Marine US Census for 1930. My query
identified a record for AURY WHITNEY [the Purser must have been an Englishman auditioning
for parts in My Fair Lady] an OILER, on the STEEL TRADER, owned by the Isthmian Line.
The place of birth was correct, Wisconsin. The age was off by a year. Oiler was a job in
the engine room. The final confirming fact was the address of next of kin, 1216 E 1st St., Duluth,
Minnesota, which was my grandmothers home. I knew Aury was Harry. Upon telling my oldest son,
he said he would tell a friend of his who had been in the Merchant Marine, who enjoyed the
history and might be able to help us find out about the ship. Shortly thereafter, my son
told me to "google" the name of the ship. How simple--- to find the Isthmian Line web page
with not only a picture of the STEEL TRADER but also that the CHARLTON HALL
[unfortunately, no picture] was another ship in the fleet. The information provided rekindled
the childhood memories of my father who loved the sea.
Harry Schillen Whitney was born in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. His early years were on
Lake Superior in Houghton, Michigan and Duluth, Minnesota, where his thirst for the sea
was nurtured. Upon graduation from high school, he joined the NAVY, serving in the
1st World War, being Honorably Discharged as Yeoman Third Class, 25 July 1919.
He then enrolled at Marquette University and upon receiving his degree, having never
lost his "love of the sea", returned to the Merchant Marine. Early on he sailed the
Great Lakes, but said he wanted to see the world, which led to the CHARLTON HALL and
the STEEL TRADER. His last port was Albany, New York, where he was Terminal Manager for
the American Oil Company [AMOCO, now BP]. On many a weekend we would go to the terminal
on the Hudson River in Rensselaer, New York, to watch another tanker unload, which I now
know was a reenactment of his time in the Merchant Marine.
I am attaching his photo in hope that you would honor him as a member
of the Isthmian Line crew. With all those Captains, you need someone in the engine room
to get the ship underway.
Had he not met and married my mother, he would have never left the sea. Many Thanks!
Tom Schillen Whitney
Bolton Landing, New York