A Radio Operator On SS "Atlantic" and SS "Chemong"

The Battery, St John's, Newfoundland.
Image © Emmanuel Milou. Originally published on Flickr and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence.

The diaries describe Evans’ life on board SS Atlantic and SS Chemong, where he served as a radio operator. They also describe some of the places Evans visited and his activities when on leave. Below is an extract outlining some of Evans’ experiences during a visit of the SS Atlantic to St. John’s Newfoundland in 19381.

[Feb. 1938]

‘… Used last of toothpaste last night, but should be in St. John’s this evening. …

14th [Feb.]

Left St. John yesterday, arrived in St. John (N.S.) [.] Arrived in St. John in the morning, and moved in to berth around noon to start loading wheat from the elevator. Working two spots. Went ashore in the evening & walked all over the town. The whole place is built on a ridge & half the streets have a grade of about 1 in 5. Slipped on the ice several times. Paraded all around looking for something to do. Bought a pair of moccasins for mother & a supply of toothpaste.

Found a skating rink (there are several in town!) & eventually decided to go in. Spent half an hour learning to stand up. Was towed in to the clear centre of the rink by an expert (age c.8) & his assistant (c.7) to work, & out to the side to sit down. Total cost ¼ for the skates, & ¼ to each instructor. Travelled to and from the town on the ferry…

… [14-16 Feb.]

A peculiar incident at St. John scared me. A “car” [sic] coming up one of the steep streets stopped about a foot short of a girl standing in th[e] middle of the lines while I hauled her back, but the whole thing happened in slow time, owing to the ice. It made this suspense much longer, and afterwards the car eased ahead. People gradually got going again on their way & the whole thing was quite horribly deliberate. The whole town was like that. Cars and autos creeping along, stopping dead before taking a corner, pedestrians planting each foot with great care. The only fast movers were skaters.

1 Warwickshire County Record Office reference CR3990/1

More from Coast and Sea