Oral History: Captain Tom Smith interview, 2016

Captain Tom Smith was interviewed over lunch in the galley of the MARY A. WHALEN in 2016.   For part of his long career, he worked for the same company that owned The MARY, then a working oil tanker, now the flagship of PortSide NewYork. While the MARY was never his regular assignment, he did occasionaly fill in as a relief captain.   

One of the ships he captained was the coastal oil tanker JOHN B. CADDELL, of similar vintage to the MARY, which famously went aground during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, becoming Staten Island's image of the storm.  Later, he spent many years working as a Staten Island ferry captain.  

Jenny Kane starts off the interview.  Also in the galley and occasionally chiming in are PortSide‚Äôs Carolina Salguero, Peter Rothenberg, Dan Goncharoff and John Weaver.

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During the interview Captain Tom Smith goes through various papers and books from his career that he is donating to PortSide NewYork.

In 2015, Captain Tom Smith was a great surprise of our August "POW!" ship tour weekend. Later that year, he was a Thanksgiving guest of PortSide. His son Tom Smith dropped him off after they had their own Thanksgiving earlier in the day.

Listening to Captain Tom, as he carved, was an amazing look at yesteryear in the long-ago history of NYC's working waterfront. He's a living history book.



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  • Photo of Captain Thomas Smith carving a Thanksgiving turkey in the MARY A WHALEN's galley was taken by  Jonathan Atkin, 2015.

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