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Voyages: An Unexpected Life

Voyages: An Unexpected Life

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Voyages: An Unexpected Life

150 pagine
1 ora
Oct 8, 2020


I was born just before World War II began, and I am very surprised now that I am much older how much the world has changed and how I had to change careers with it to be successful. I wrote this book initially as a present to tell my grandchildren about the world I grew up in. I was fortunate to live in a beautiful small town in Massachusetts called Nahant. This book is my memory of how I grew up as a young fisherman and helped build several lobster fishing boats under the direction of a first-generation Italian lobsterman. I was paid to travel to Puerto Rico, war-torn Germany, England on a former troop ship, and South Africa where I discovered the evils of apartheid first hand plus the major ports of Eastern Africa and how they lived much different from us! After arriving home, I made two trips through the Panama Canal and visited all of the major cities on the west coast of South America. Two years later, I graduated from the academy and received a license to operate huge merchant ships and worked on some of the nicest cruise ships in the world to the historic ports of Europe, Greece, Egypt, North Africa, India, Pakistan, and Burma. Traveling the world gave me an education that helped shape the rest if my life. Eventually, I left the sea for shipyard work where I helped build the world's first nuclear-powered Navy cruiser and eight nuclear submarines. Eventually, the Cold War was over, and I moved on to nuclear-powered electricity-generating plants ashore with a Boston engineering firm. I was fortunate to marry Lily, a wonderful woman from Honduras born in a jungle hospital of United Brands, who unfortunately passed away. We were fortunate to raise two great kids: Jim, who is legally blind, and Pat, who now travels the world with the internationally known platinum record band Extreme. Many people and adventures were described. Many other people and places were discussed!

Oct 8, 2020

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Voyages - Al Badger


An Unexpected Life

Al Badger

Copyright © 2020 Al Badger

All rights reserved

First Edition


Conneaut Lake, PA

First originally published by Page Publishing 2020

ISBN 978-1-64628-607-2 (pbk)

ISBN 978-1-64628-608-9 (digital)

Printed in the United States of America

Table of Contents

The Black Sheep


Kings Point

To Sea

SS Exchequer

The Shipyard


No Nukes!

Jim, the Compassionate Crusader

Patrick, the Musician

The Robot Lobster

My Geisha Daughter from Tokyo

The Kimono Contest

My Exotic Friend Bianca

Newburyport, the Center of the Universe COU!

This Book is dedicated to:

My Wonderful wife

Lily Aguilar Badger

and my three Grandsons

Jeffery, Benjamin, Aidan

Horatio Alger has nothing on Al Badger, a storybook adventurer whose lifetime experiences are still continuing in Newburyport. Raised in Nahant to a slightly dysfunctional family ruled by a difficult police officer father who knew both sides of the law, he became a fisherman by the age of twelve and was often up to the tops of his knee-high rubber boots in squirming, gasping, and freezing fish under the tutelage of a second-generation Italian fisherman.

He learned how to build wooden boats whose engines were salvaged from junked wrecked cars. He also learned philosophy and the latest off-color jokes from the captain. He also took note of the gun his mentor carried on the boat to protect them from the tough ex-convict fishermen in Boston Harbor.

The United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point and the lure of world travel eventually called Badger away from Nahant, and just before entering the academy, the lobster boat he built and fished from washed ashore and was destroyed on a seawall in a hurricane, an indication that the lobster fishing part of his life was over.

Badger’s academy days were traumatic for the nineteen-year-old, salvaged by excelling in track and football, which allowed him to work off demerit points and to run in many national track meets with some of the finest athletes in the country.

His travels took him to many countries: England, Germany, Panama, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, South Africa, Honduras, Mozambique, and many other places that are no longer called by the same names.

Although his education seemed to be shaped by the lure of the sea, he pursued other education and employment. With his engineer license, he worked on the first nuclear-powered cruiser, was a test engineer for Westinghouse, and became an executive for the Stone & Webster engineering firm. His sub work took him all over the world as a project manager, specializing in nuclear plants.

His quest for learning took him to MIT’s famed Media Lab for one and a half years, specializing in computers. But it was a Harvard writing class that has now led him into yet another venture.

It was at a dance in Boston that he met his wife, Lily. An amazing woman. She quickly moved up the ladder at United Fruit from being born in the jungles of Honduras at a company hospital to being the assistant to the CEO of the company. Her boss was the notorious Eli Black, who famously jumped forty-four floors to his death at the New York City Pan Am Building. He was being indicted after being caught, trying to bribe the Honduran president for a tax reduction. Lily continued to be indispensable to the health of United’s plantations in the New York and Boston offices.

Al eventually gave up the seagoing life for a career in the design, construction, and start-up of Naval nuclear submarines and surface ships.

Lily died several years ago, leaving a large void in Al’s life. They were married for forty-nine years and raised two sons. The oldest, James, who is legally blind and was a psychologist for the Latin American Health Institute and now works for the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. Patrick is a successful internationally known musician and also is the front man for the Eagles tribute band, Dark Desert Eagles.

Al and Lily had settled in Winchester. He at Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation, and she at United Brands, the parent company of Chiquita Brands Fruit. But after her death, Al knew he was not a Winchester type of person and, at Patrick’s urging, ended up in Newburyport. The architecture, sea history, and the warmth of the people immensely attracted him immediately. He was in our fair port but a week when he realized he had met more creative and outgoing people than in all of his thirteen years in Winchester.

Newburyport is where he docks his twenty-three-foot fishing boat.

There is a special bond between Al and his son Patrick as they formally raised alpacas in a neighboring town for pleasure and profit. They also frequently socialize and fish together.

Al has traveled extensively via bus throughout the US and Canada to Patrick’s concerts. He and Lily followed Extreme by commercial airlines on overseas tours.

The name of the band where Patrick plays bass and does backup vocals is Extreme, which had the number one hit More Than Words on the Billboard charts for an extended time and is considered a rock classic.

Extreme played the TD North benefit concert for the One Fund for the Boston Marathon bombing victims along with Boston, Godsmack, Aerosmith, Jimmy Buffett, J. Geils, Carole King, New Kids on the Block, etc. They headline many shows and festivals throughout the world.

Several years ago, Al decided another challenge: writing. The enclosed story is but a speckle of his fascinating life. He has been taking writing classes and has been dazzling (and sometimes horrifying) fellow students who are penning rather pedestrian essays about gardens and the like while Al is putting a sailor’s tales of pirates, swashbucklers, rogues, and ships with nefarious cargo to paper.

No surprise there to those who know him. His seafaring prose has touched everyone from Mickey Spillane to Jimmy Buffett to Robert Parker to John Masefield. Badger indeed resembles Spillane in words and a barrel chest, weathered face, and an aura of adventure about him.

Seemingly unable to stay on land for extended periods of time, Al cruises from the Caribbean, the Greek islands, and Italy.

He has returned home to Newburyport where he has finally found where he belongs, much to our benefit.

Dennis Metrano

May 31, 2013

Chapter 1

The Black Sheep

When my father, Albert, was appointed to a small police force in my hometown of Nahant, Massachusetts, his mother was said to have remarked, Too bad. Too much temptation for him.

Nahant is basically an island with one causeway out to it near the entrance to Boston Harbor, and the causeway forms the eastern side of Lynn Harbor. The population is in many ways isolated, rather like Plum Island, near Newburyport where I now live.

Nahant is built on a rocky coastline, not sand as many of the low-lying barrier islands along the coast are. It is subject to similar environmental and parochial influences. It has few services and a few bars and seafood restaurants.

A century ago, Nahant was a beach community and summer residence for many of the Boston affluent. Now it is a bedroom community that sticks its head out into the fierce Atlantic Ocean, defying nature to tear away its beachfront residences each winter, and periodically during storms, Nahant finds itself isolated from the mainland in Lynn.

When I was young, driving to Nahant, you would have seen a few pleasure or lobster boats on the Lynn Harbor side and a sparse Boston skyline, primarily consisting of the Custom House Tower and the old John Hancock office structure. These have been long overshadowed and placed out of view, now by Boston’s jungle of shiny office skyscrapers.

On the left as far as you could see was the horizon of the Atlantic Ocean, Egg Rock, The Graves Light, and perhaps an occasional tanker or cargo ship headed for Boston Harbor. Egg rock was appropriately named for the hundreds of seagulls that nest there and raise their young while depositing a white cap of their daily guano on the rock below.

We always shopped in Lynn for groceries and other necessities, but it was here on the causeway my father taught me to drive our old prewar-manufactured black Plymouth sedan. The old rattletrap car’s seat springs had worn through the upholstery in the driver’s side. An interesting Mayflower ship replica hood ornament reminiscent of Plymouth Rock adorned the hood of the old wreck.

It is about a two-mile drive from the start of the causeway to our home on Summer Street, and my father often encouraged me to drive even though I was several years underage. It was a pretty ride usually and had little traffic on weekdays. It made me feel grown up to drive right past the police station where he worked in broad daylight.

There was not much shifting required of the floor shift in the old Plymouth. In those days, there was an extra pedal called a clutch, which we don’t see many of anymore, and we had to push it near the floor to change the gears to one of the three forward speeds, or to reverse when we were stopped and wanted to back up. The operative positions of these gears were the four corners of an H-shaped pattern you had to mentally visualize with the reverse on the upper left, first speed on the lower left, second speed on the upper right, and third speed on the lower right. To get to second and third or from reverse or first or vice versa, you had to pass through the horizontal rung of the H, which also required skillful manipulation and coordination of the clutch and the car’s accelerator, or as it was commonly known as the gas pedal. These shift positions were accessed with a long handled lever that reached the floor under which the transmission gears were located.

My father, Albert, always worked a second and sometimes third job to supplement his meager police salary to support me, my mother, Esther, and two younger sisters, Beth and Frannie.

My mother Esther

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