You recall the period: the cold war was at it’s peak, the oil crisis, the Nixon impeachment debacle, both King Faisal and Pope Pius were “tot” – that is “dead” in German. So read the headlines.
At the time, I was working in Bremen, Germany as 미국배송대행 the manager for a United States gulf ocean carrier. In those days, we had a lot of dealings with the US military Sealift command – the Navy component in charge of shipping the voluminous military cargoes, worldwide. I was thirty-five years old and had a similar position in our New Orleans headquarters. This was a good position of advancement for me. But, we had three young children at the time and were quickly in severe culture shock.
Now, this was oil crisis time and taxis could only run one day a week – on Sunday. Germans had, on average, less than one child and we had three. Houses were small. Needless to say, these things curtailed our house hunting and it took us a very long time to find a suitable residence. It was three months in a very German, very expensive hotel. Perseverance was finally rewarded, however, and we rented a fine, newly modernized four bedroom home, in a great little village on the outskirts of Bremen, called Bremen-Oberneuland.
After a year or so, we were just getting settled in. That’s when I got a call from my boss. He told me to be prepared to go to Leningrad to assist our vessel, the SS Ruth Lykes. I said “when?” He said “pretty soon” as the vessel had already sailed from Houston with a cargo of three thousand to four thousand tons of oil well equipment. They advised that I would have to go to Hamburg to the Russian consulate to get a visa. No big deal – Hamburg was one of our frequent journeys, so we arranged for an appointment and proceeded to Hamburg, some eighty miles away. That turned out to be quite some visit.
We arrived at this very large mansion and announced ourselves. We were then taken into a very large room, with very little furniture. During the next 4 hours, we were really grilled. Apparently, their people had not told them anything about us. They were particularly interested in the American in Germany, who couldn’t speak German – that would be me. Well, we didn’t get the visa that day, nor the next. But, the third day was a charm. I say “charm”, but they verbally abused us for hours. One thing they warned me about at length, was “do not misplace this document or you will spend a very long time in Russia!” I took that to heart and will explain later about that.
Now, my challenge is to figure out how to get to Leningrad. In those days, there were no direct flights. It so happened, the Ruth Lykes was set to arrive in Oslo, Norway to discharge a cargo of oil well equipment and pipe. I then realized I could easily fly to Oslo and then sail to Leningrad, aboard the Ruth Lykes. In doing this, I could accomplish two things. I could visit with our Oslo agent and discuss things with the ship’s master, Captain Ducros. I knew the Captain slightly and also knew that it had been years, since he sailed in these waters. His area was primarily the Far East run, because the Ruth Lykes was a self-sustaining vessel. SS Ruth Lykes could operate in areas in Indonesia, where there were basically no port facilities with shore cranes.