The Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be in Finland when this post goes live. I’ll be delivering a painting of the S. S. Park Victory given to me by seagoing cowboy Fred Ramseyer. Fred traveled to Poland on the S. S. Park Victory’s second livestock trip in December 1945. When I interviewed Fred in 2007, he showed me the painting he had of his ship.
Here’s the story:
On his voyage, Fred became friends with the ship’s night cook and baker, Eddie Carlson. Fred helped Eddie at night just to have something to do. He remembers making candy with Eddie and that Eddie, who played the guitar, spent a lot of time with the cowboys. Eddie must have taken a liking to Fred especially, because some time after Fred had gotten home Eddie paid him a visit.
Eddie hitchhiked to Smithville, Ohio, where Fred lived and asked a man on the street for “Freddie.” The man turned out to be Fred’s father who took Eddie to the house. Eddie presented the painting of their ship to Fred and went on his way. Eddie had stayed in service on the S. S. Park Victory for another trip after Fred’s that went to Greece. On the way home, the ship had docked in Naples to pick up ballast. An enterprising painter on shore had painted the picture and Eddie acquired it.
Fred had the painting framed, along with his Merchant Marine card. It has graced his home ever since. At age 92, he wanted to find a good home for the painting. He called me to see if I would like to have it. I said, “Yes! And I know who would REALLY like to have it and will see that he gets it.” I explained about the interest in Finland in the S. S. Park Victory and shot off an email of inquiry to my contact there, Jouko Moisala. His response: “I am really very interested in the painting!!!!!”
So in March, Fred’s longtime friends Don and Vicki Dreher, who have often traveled with Fred and assist him now, drove Fred the three hours to my home. We had a lovely visit.
Fred left me not only the painting, but also a Park Victory life jacket light and whistle he had, all of which I am delivering to Finland to be placed there with other memorabilia of the ship.
As our conversation came to an end, Fred said, “I’m glad the picture will do some good in the end, because the trip was the highlight of my life.”
Next post: Delivering the painting in Finland.
Oh my, Peggy you do have some of the most heartwarming stories! I love and admire your work! Godspeed!
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Oh! the webs we weave throughout our lives. I do believe in synchronicity as it was displayed when he was asking for directions and it happened to be someone who was related in some way. That happened for me when mothers dining room furniture was being auctioned off. It was difficult to see it go for so many family events had occurred around that table. Just then a woman approached me wondering aloud. Would you happen to know who the owner of that table was? she asked; for you see she had just purchased it. “Of course,” I replied. I knew it had a good home when she informed me that she was moving into an older home and the dining set was perfect for this older home.
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