I’m hooked on Pease novels

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 6, 2010

I have no idea how many books my husband has accumulated through the years about ships and adventures at sea.

There is a special shelf in our personal library that holds some of his favorites by one of his favorite authors, Howard Pease.

The California writer once went to sea himself to gather material for his books.

He wrote some exciting sea adventures that started appearing in the 1920s.

His focus was teenage readers, but I think anyone who enjoys sea stories finds them enjoyable.

“The Tattooed Man” might have been Pease’s first, published in 1926. “The Jinx Ship” followed in 1927, and two years later, “The Gypsy Caravan” appeared.

All three of those were Tod Moran Mysteries, along with nine more that appeared under that series.

Not all Pease books were sea stories, but many were. I found one source that listed 22 Pease books, while another source mentioned 30.

After my husband read “The Tattooed Man,” which he bought at a Foley Public Library book sale, he started looking for more of the Pease novels.

That was before we had access to the Internet.

He hunted them at used book stores, yard sales, library book sales, and any place he thought he might turn one up.

One day while visiting my mother, we wandered into a used book store in Panama City, Fla. and asked the proprietor if she had any Howard Pease books. She searched and located several for us over the years. After that, we always paid her a visit during our trips to Panama City in hopes a Pease novel had floated in.

It was years after my husband acquired “The Tattooed Man” that I decided to read it. It hooked me, too, even though I found some of the nautical terms unfamiliar.

I finished one Pease sea story and reached for the next one on the shelf.

I’ve even read several of them more than once.

Memories of the Pease sea adventures reminded me of a tale I read about a Pensacola man and his partners who converted a former passenger ship into a tug.

After the conversion, every time the tug sailed by a certain landing, the engine stopped.

One crewman had a theory that “the ole gal had got set in her ways.” He thought since it had always stopped there as a passenger ship, it wouldn’t pass by that landing without stopping.

The man thought that was silly, but the next day they tied in at the landing to satisfy his craving for a cold drink. He denied that he was taking the crewman’s suggestion, but from then on, he stopped for a cold drink at the landing. After that, the ship never broke down in that area.

However, to the man’s displeasure, when they tied up at the landing, the crewman with the theory always turned in the direction of the wheelhouse and gave him two thumbs up.