The Old North End, Continued
Today Portland's seedy past is buried beneath its streets.
The North End – get drunk and get Shanghaied.
Stopping for a drink in such innocent looking, but notorious establishments as Erickson's Saloon, Hobo's, or practically anywhere else in the North End; suddenly a trap door would drop open and you would plummet into a dark underground.
He didn't know it yet, but he'd just been 'shanghaied'...
In 1891, 21 year old Aquilla Ernest Clark was a victim.
He was invited to a party aboard the steamboat Iralda by his new friend, Mr. Smith.
By the time they reached Astoria, Aquilla, being drunk, was tricked into signing the ship's articles for the barque T.F. Oakes. By signing it, Clark had changed careers.
No longer a farm boy, he would not see Portland again for 7 years.
He was a sailor now, like thousands of others in 1890s Portland, he'd been Shanghaied.
In Stanley Holbrook’s article, Clarke tells of the time that he was wandering down Burnside Street in October of eighteen ninety one, when a friendly gentleman, Mr. Smith, informed him of a river boat party that his friend Larry Sullivan, another Crimp King, was putting on. The spirited soiree, which included women and free-flowing spirits, arrived in Astoria for what was promised to be a 1 hour stay. Clarke was then told to sign a passenger list so that the crew would know when everyone was back on board. Sullivan then took Clarke and others on a “tour” of a massive, deep-sea ship called the T.F. Oakes. At that point, Clarke and Company were manacled at gun-point and shoved in a dark strong-hold. It was seven-years before Clarke saw Portland again. Clarke’s story is a nightmarish tale that makes Mutiny on the Bounty seem like an episode of The Love Boat.
In addition to malnutrition, countless abuses and indignities (not to mention really bad coffee), Clarke’s recollections include mad Captain Frost—whose collapsing mental condition resulted in the arbitrary execution of members of his crew—and the death of a tyrannical first-mate named Black Johnson, who “mysteriously disappeared” when, while heaving a sail that had gone slack, the crew let go all at the same time, causing Johnson to be jerked overboard. As he clung onto the rope, screaming, the crew pounded his fingers with an iron bar until he let go...
By some accounts, many believe that the Mr. Smith in this story was no other than Joseph 'Bunco' Kelly. By far the most colorful of these crimping (shanghaiing) tales invariably involve a squat; steely-eyed Liverpudlian (from Liverpool) named Joseph "Bunco" Kelly.
FOLLOW ALONG WITH PICTURES
See Picture #, Bunco Kelly.
The Da Vinci of crimping--Kelly's nickname is a testament to his shanghaiing artistry.
Kelly's most famous ruse garnered him-and Portland's waterfront- a rather infamous international reputation.
One somber October night in 1892, when combing the streets of Portland for 20 men to flesh out the crew of The Flying Prince, Kelly spied an open sidewalk trap-door on 2nd Street and Morrison, a few blocks to our south. Upon climbing down a steep ladder, he came across 24 apparently deeply inebriated fellows in a candle-lit cellar, moaning and gasping. The acrid stench of formaldehyde permeating the chamber, quickly led Kelly to deduce, that these men had mistakenly broken into the basement of what they thought was the Snug Harbor Saloon next door, but was in actuality the cellar of Johnson & Son undertakers. Thinking the cellar was a part of the Snug Harbor Pub; the men had each consumed cups of embalming fluid, which they had mistaken for liquor. When Kelly found them, several had died, and others were dying.
Never one to miss an opportunity, Kelly hurried out of the cellar (closing the door behind him to avoid pesky fresh air from reviving his besotted booty) to fetch some goons to help him transport his expiring merchandise. Claiming the dead were merely unconscious from too much drink, Kelly sold all 24 to a captain whose ship sailed before the truth was discovered. The captain, after relaying that he had "never seen so many dead drunks in his life," shelled out $50 each for the 14 corpses and 10 severely ill men Kelly had delivered unto him.
The next day, the first mate of the Prince made the ghastly discovery and the ship proceeded to dock and unload its carrion cargo, causing an international uproar that started an international investigation centering on Portland's crimping practices.
Watch the Shanghaied Video - 33 minutes
Just tell Phil, to text, or email it to you.
And, the Cascade Geographic Society does a virtual Shanghai Tunnel tour. For more info, click HERE.
Our next stop is Erickson's Saloon in the North End
With a few more