It was 1946 and Jimmy was 12, and ready for adventure. He lived on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay and dreamed of someday sailing on one of the merchant ships moored in the Baltimore harbor, loaded with cargo and bananas. It wasn’t unusual for him to hide among the large boxes of cargo on the piers waiting to be loaded on a ship. Sometime he would even climb up into a crate and fall fast asleep. Peanut butter sandwiches and jam was his favorite lunch time meal. He would sometime just dose off watching the longshoremen load the cargo.
One day it began to rain a little, so he moved up into an open top crate ready to be loaded on a ship and fell fast asleep. He was lying under part of the mesh wrap that was covering the large shipping crate. He didn’t feel the crate moving as it was being pulled up into the ship and loaded down into the hold. The hold was dark and damp. Other crates were piled on top leaving a 6 inch space between the crate he was in and the one above him. One of the merchant seaman making certain all crates were secured stopped when he heard a small sound which turned out to be Jimmy trying to break free from the crate of which he now found himself. The engines were loud, the seaman thought perhaps it was just another rodent running around in the dark.
The ship was destined for Brazil and would take two weeks to get there. The large steamer was running behind and was trying to make up time. A tropical storm was brewing and the ship was being tossed from side to side and rocking up and down and front to back. Another seaman came down into the hold and heard the same sounds of Jimmy trying to get loose. Only this time as Jimmy started yelling as loud as he was able, he was finally heard. The seaman walked up to him and broke a board loose freeing Jimmy.
The old seaman perhaps in his seventies, spoke no English, but had a pretty good idea of what had taken place. He hugged Jimmy, gave him a handkerchief and tried to comfort him. He took him to the captain. The captain spoke little English, but was able to understand who Jimmy was and that he lived south of Baltimore. The captain ordered a nice dinner for Jimmy and told him it would be quite some time before he was able to set Jimmy on shore to the nearest military port. The captain had a change of clothes for Jimmy that were at least 4 sizes too large. The crew loved having Jimmy on board and treated him like royalty.
The captain taught Jimmy about all of the controls and how they sped up, slowed down and steered the big ship. After fighting the storm for many hours, the captain let Jimmy make a call to the Coast Guard. He told the Coast Guard who he was and how he came to be on the ship. The Coast Guard told Jimmy that he was in good hands and would be picking Jimmy up in a few days. It wasn’t long before a large boat was able to pull up alongside the ship and transfer Jimmy from the steamer to the small Coast Guard transport.
None of Jimmy’s friends believed him when he told them of his adventure. At least that was the case until he received a letter with a photo of Jimmy standing on the deck of the steamer with the crew and captain.