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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Travel » » Castaway Kirsten Cargo Craft, Cape Horn
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Castaway Kirsten Cargo Craft, Cape Horn
bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11126
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-02-13 1:20 pm   Permalink

Since Nautical/Shipwreck/Beachcomber style is part and parcel of the language of Tiki style, as evidenced in this picture from Trader Vic's warehouse...


...I decided to share a little bit of Kirsten family history with the TC Ohana:

Now while I was hanging out at the Cape of Good Hope not too long ago...



...my sister Jessica went to its equivalent on the other side of the globe, Cape Horn. Though she still lives in my home town of Hamburg, Germany, she has been working for a Norwegian Arctic Cruise line in Buenos Aires on and off. She is also, inspired by my dad, an avid family history buff. This led her to find out about the fate of this ship, which once belonged to the now defunct Kirsten Shipping Line:



This shipwreck is sitting near Ushuiaia, in the Tierra Del Fuego on the Southern-most tip of Argentina:



My sister loves to travel, so she joined a team of documentary video makers, and the photographic results of her expedition were so spectacular that they inspired me to post about them here. Here is a link on an Argentinian website with shots clearly done by a professional photographer:

http://www.tierradelfuego.org.ar/v4/_esp/index.php?especial=desdemona2008

(scroll all the way to the bottom and click on each image for enlarging it)

This ship was called Desdemona, after a female character from Shakespeare's "Othello", in keeping with the family tradition of christening all the Kirsten ships with female Shakespeare character names. Just like many of Shakespeare's characters', the fortunes of the Kirsten Line faltered, when in the 1960s the container business was swallowing up all the small shipping lines. I myself barely remember setting foot on a family ship once, I must have been like 4, here I am with my older brother Oliver:



By the time my dad inherited my grandfather's shares of the business in the 1960s, they were worthless pieces of paper. The ships were sold of to developing countries, and this is what happened to one of them:

http://www.akirsten-reederei.de/desdemona/fotos/dd-anbord/index.htm

The above pics are from my sister's website

Now a post from me always should have some THEN and NOW photos, and some memorabilia:
Here is a photo of the launching of the Desdemona in 1950 in Hamburg:



...THEN, and NOW:



Apparently, the ship's new owner was steering its captain to run it aground so he could collect the insurance, tiz tiz..
Here is the full story:



The poor ship had no idea of this fate when it was happily flying its flags in 1950:


I myself have only a handful of items displaying the characteristic red and white striped Kirsten flag, like this 1950s office calender:


a midcentury modern ashtray:


and a tiny desk ship model:


I blame a lot on my family history, like my nostalgic feelings for small family businesses that are made obsolete by the tides of time, my fondness for sailor's bars, and the fact that I ended up living in America:

Here are my mom and dad on the way to the New World in the summer of 1952:



What, you don't see them? They are standing on the bridge, let's zoom in:



My mom is on the left in overalls and white sailor's cap, my dad is on the right with the captain's cap

My dad working overseas for the shipping line in the 50s is the reason why my brother was born in Montreal, Canada...here is a photo of him in my dad's old Packard in Chicago in 1953:



...and the reason why my biography states that I was conceived on a family freighter on the way back from Chicago to Hamburg.

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2008-02-13 16:29 ]


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Kahuna Kent
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Aug 19, 2007
Posts: 82
From: Woodland Hills, Ca
Posted: 2008-02-13 4:36 pm   Permalink

That's a wonderful story, Sven... I enjoy family history, and yours sounds very interesting. How long has your family been in the sea business? Do you know any stories about your grandfather? (or HIS grandfather?)

 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11126
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-02-13 8:21 pm   Permalink

Since 1865. For stories, you gotta ask my dad or my sister. My own interests always lay more with the arts, my ancestors on my father's side just seemed like stuffy and stern businessmen...take good ol' Robert for example, not exactly the laid back kinda guy:

My grand dad died when I was a kid, my favorite picture of him is hauling a bunch of kids in his old "Adler" limousine to our weekend vacation farm:


But I really don't want to make this into a non-Tiki thread, so I will only talk about related aspects, like the fact that one of my ancestors did have some dealings in person in Fiji in the 1870s. He is mentioned in the diary of a Captain Nils Simon Michelsen...unfortunately it's in German, and not of enough interest to be translated:



This Captain Michelsen wrote down some observations on "Traders and Traders' Life in the South Seas", too:


(sorry, am too lazy to translate)

In general I am proud of the fact that some Hamburg shipping families were very active in ethnographic studies in the South Seas, and that the objects they brought back to Europe formed ethnographic collections that eventually grew into the first ethnological museums, like the house Godeffroy:


But I actually feel more akin to another shipping family's member, the man I quoted in the Book of Tiki with the famous "Anyone who has ever seen them is thereafter haunted as if by a feverish dream", Karl Woermann, whose father Carl founded the Woermann Line:



Some may remember that I found the above in the office of a Dr. Woermann in Capetown who treated me for a sinus infection when I was working there - a small world indeed. He was a descendant of Karl's brother Adolph, who took over the family business after Karl had declined because he wanted to study art!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Woermann

Only found in the German Wikipedia is the fact that Karl was named Carl initially, because he was the first born son to Carl sr., but when he decided to choose the arts over the family business, his father made him change the "C" to "K" and disowned him, breaking off all contact:

"...Als sein ältester Sohn und geplanter Nachfolger Carl kein Interesse für den Kaufhandel zeigte und stattdessen Kunsthistoriker werden wollte, forderte Carl Woermann von ihm die Änderung seines Namens in Karl Woermann und brach den Kontakt mit ihm ab..."

My dad also was more interested in the arts, but was forced to follow in his father's footsteps. I benefitted from that by getting to follow my calling.

CARL and his son Adolph were typical colonialists, trading African goods for guns and liquor, which even aroused protest in the German Parliament in 1889. Unfortunately all this is only to be found in the German Wikipedia:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolph_Woermann



So KARL did the right thing by becoming an art historian instead, and giving us such a splendid quote to describe today's Tiki Fever!


[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2008-02-13 20:37 ]


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BC-Da-Da
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 14, 2002
Posts: 162
Posted: 2008-02-15 10:13 am   Permalink

Wow, that was inspiring, Sven.

I've been looking into my family history for about ten years now, and there are all kinds of characters that I can see some of my inspiration in. I'm still looking for the link about how a kid from a conservative military family could have gravitated to intensly to the left, the arts and the beachcomber aesthetic. Maybe, like a lot of my bohemian heroes of the past, I lost faith in God and country pretty quick, and went looking for a country and an indentity. I knew before reading "Tales of the South Pacific" that my grandfather, Austin Chidester, was awarded the Purple Heart for service in Bora Bora during World War II. But he never talks about it.


 
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Limbo Lizard
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 24, 2006
Posts: 685
From: Aboard the 'Leaky Tiki', Dallas
Posted: 2008-02-16 6:18 pm   Permalink

So, Sven, you're a son of a son of a sailor.
Just like... nevermind.


 
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haikai
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 09, 2005
Posts: 233
From: Regensburg / Bavaria / Germany
Posted: 2008-02-21 01:25 am   Permalink

Ahoi! Captain of the ocean and the tiki tribe. Let´s set sail!
Wow, I have just read this thread and totaly chach from adventure feelings.
You have a realy interesting family history and it´s geat that your sister search for it.
So, it will be keep alive for your offspring.

I remember when I visited some years ago my dads birthplace in Berlin.
A big old house with many barns and a fruit orchard.
All my paternal ancestors lifed there. My grandmother and grandaunt had an store for housewares there
and my great-grandfather a garage where he worked for a barrel-maker.

So there lifed a lots of people in that house and nobody has chuck out anything.
They keep all the old furniture, dinnerware, clothes.... at the attic.
The house was full of history and I could find a lots of interesting things.
Such as I found a place in the eerie basement were I saw a broken open second wall.
They conceal their valuables behind the second wall between the war. It looked like it was yesterday.
Very depressing!

Sadly, the most of my older ancestors are already dead and so it´s hard for me to find out more.

O.K. that´s enough! I´ll watch the pics of the MS Desdemona again.
Oh captain, Sir, let´s refloat the ship and start a tiki pirate trip over the world!

Moin, Moin,

Kai


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11126
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-02-28 5:15 pm   Permalink

Yes, Kai, ummm...YAVOLL! Thank You! -Kai is working on an exhibit of his carvings in the US with Crazy Al, and it will be splendid!

Folks, I cannot hold back any longer on this exciting discovery I made last week. It again touches on Tiki because of its nautical connotations, but also on this particular thread because of:


I also believe this find is in keeping with the Ohana's interest in esoteric vintage objects, which this certainly is! A German professor of Aeronautical Engineering created this pipe- and-the most amazing thing is: They are still making these TODAY, exactly like in the 1940s!


Here is a bit of his history, (my dad says this was most likely a different Kirsten family...but it sounds sooo close!):

>>It is by no means merely puffery to say that Professor Frederick K. Kirsten was a genuine American original. He first sailed to this country in 1902, as a cabin boy from Hamburg, Germany. After successfully rounding the Horn and eluding the shanghai gangs of the West Coast, he navigated the educational system at the University of Washington to become a Professor of Aeronautical Engineering. Here, his inventive spirit took wing. He created the world-famous Kirsten Wind Tunnel, Air-washing equipment for factories, an air-cooled Utopian Bed, and, most notably, a revolutionary propeller which enables boats to stop and turn on a dime. Today, in the same waters where he jumped ship almost 100 years ago, ocean-going vessels are landed by sturdy tugs driven by Kirsten cycloidal propellers, PILOTED BY EQUALLY STURDY CAPTAINS SMOKING COOL KIRSTEN PIPES.<<



Here is the Kirsten Pipe Co website:
http://www.kirstenpipe.com/default.shtml

Wow. Today the Seattle Kirstens have two Smoking Utensil and Tobacco stores in Seattle, one is being described like this:
>>Step inside our NAUTICAL THEMED store and browse hundreds of items including our signature line of Kirsten pipes, briar pipes from other world renowned craftsmen, humidors, lighters, flasks, fine knives, and many other great gift items.<<

To disassemble and clean these pipes is almost like cleaning a gun:


So I had to get one (they go for around 20.- to 30.- bucks (used) on e-bay these days):

My very own KIRSTEN !

I never smoked all my life, but I enjoyed puffing Cuban cigars in Havana, and this will make me continue enjoying the occasional "blue hour". Also, the "pipe smoking man" image has many fine precedents:


Hef


Bob

And then there is the "smoking author" genre of portraits for slip cover back flaps:



... to which I can rightfully ad now...here is an attempt:


"Author S.A. Kirsten engaged in his research into "The Insect Foods of the Australian Aborigines"

Last not least, I can finally make actual use of my Coco Joe's pipe tray!



One more thought: Considering that the Kirsten pipe's BOWLS are interchangeable, does this not cry out for a special edition of pipe bowls carved in Tiki likenesses!?





[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2008-02-28 17:56 ]


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Jah Jim
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 37
From: Tiki Ti land, Hollywood, California
Posted: 2008-02-28 10:54 pm   Permalink

Please allow me to be among the first to order a pair.

Jah bless,

Jah Jim aka Rasta Jim


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11126
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-02-29 7:54 pm   Permalink

Thank you JIM ! Would anyone else be interested in buying a Kirsten TIKI Pipe, if it existed? I could see two or three styles carved...Ku...Marquesan....Cook Islands... Who else smokes pipe here....let's see...Crazy Al...Jochen...

I am really thinking about approaching the Kirsten Pipe company with this, Holden has offered his help, I just would like to get some idea who here would go for one.


[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2008-02-29 19:56 ]


 
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VampiressRN
Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2006
Posts: 5693
From: Sun City Lincoln Hills (NorCal)
Posted: 2008-02-29 9:10 pm   Permalink

What a fabulous thread!!! You have such a wonderful way with words and skill at bringing an excitement to history. Those pictures are so neat...especially the car.

I envy you in your rich heritage. I am adopted and have no knowledge or desire to know of my heritage (don't ask me why...just feels right to me). However, I will be thrilled when I finally inheret the stately Castle and vast property of my lineage.

Hope you will share more stories and pictures.



 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11126
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-02-29 9:29 pm   Permalink

What! You're not gonna buy a pipe !!?
No seriously, thank you, Vamp....I just know how to make things LOOK good...did it with Tiki culture, so it should work with Kirsten culture, too.


 
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VampiressRN
Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2006
Posts: 5693
From: Sun City Lincoln Hills (NorCal)
Posted: 2008-02-29 9:35 pm   Permalink

Of course I will buy a frikken pipe...afterall I am a shopaholic (probably an affliction buried deep in my secret family genes)!!!
_________________
"Oh waiter, another cocktail please!!!"


 
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haikai
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 09, 2005
Posts: 233
From: Regensburg / Bavaria / Germany
Posted: 2008-03-01 12:43 pm   Permalink

Hey Sven, woooow! I think "Kirsten" is a realy big empire!
I want to have one of those pipes. I have almost stop to smoke cigarettes.
These days it´s not more possible to smoke in german restaurants or bars,
but to enjoy a original Kirsten pipe after work, at the bench in front of the house, with a cool beer and watching the Alps would be the Paradise.
Perhaps I could arrange with Jochen the first Kirsten smokers club in Germany.

Have a great weekend, Kai
_________________


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11126
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-03-07 1:09 pm   Permalink

Just found this amazing ad:


"Dildo Cay"? What a title for a movie! Well, even in 1941 Paramount must have thought the same, because a quick search on imdb.com yielded no result. Digging a little deeper though, I found this, the only film Sterling Hayden made that year:

"Bahama Passage" is a leisurely bit of Technicolor exotica starring Madeleine Carroll and her future husband Sterling Hayden. Based on Nolson Hayes' novel DILDO CAY,



the story takes place on a remote Bahaman island where the principal commodity-in fact, the only--is salt. The owner of the island is young Adrian (Sterling Hayden), who inherited Dildo Cay from his family..... The most striking aspect of Bahama Passage is the extremely casual clothing worn by the stars: Why, one would think that Paramount was trying to get the audience's mind off the film's slower passages by showing off as much cheesecake and beefcake as possible. ~
Once Bahama Passage was in the cans, Actor Hayden enlisted in the Armed Forces.



Unfortunately, none of the stills I can find of the film have him smoking a Kirsten Pipe. It probably was too "high tech" for the setting, and he is just posing with it for the ad.



The film seems to have had a lot in common with Sterling Hayden's life:

"Born March 26, 1916, in Montclair, NJ, he quit school at the age of 16 to become a mate on a schooner, beginning a lifelong love affair with the sea; indeed, it was often suggested that he was never particularly enamored of the acting life, instead preferring to sail. By age 22, Hayden was a ship's captain, but a desire to buy his own boat prompted him to begin modeling, and in 1940 he landed a movie contract at Paramount. With no previous acting experience, he starred in 1941's Virginia, followed a year later by Bahama Passage. The pictures' successes made him a star, and he also grabbed headlines by marrying actress Madeleine Carroll."

Also:
"Sterling Hayden was a dory fisherman in the Grand Banks as a teenager; captained a two masted brig from Boston to Tahiti at age 22; he then became one of the youngest Master Mariners at age 24; sailed around the world twice; sailed to Tahiti several times..."

Sounds like HE was the original "Captain Adam Troy" from "Adventures in Paradise"!

When "Bahama Passage" was released in France in 1946, it's title was "Sous le ciel de Polynésie" (!)
Also interesting:

"Hayden's career flagged during the years to follow, however. Saddled with a series of lackluster films, he finally left acting in 1958 to return to the sea, and spent the next six years away from Hollywood. In 1963, he even published an autobiography, "Wanderer", detailing his ocean adventures as well as his regret for cooperating with the House Un-American Activities Commission during the McCarthy era."



One last note: Dorothy Dandridge played the island native Thalia in the film.




 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11126
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-03-27 08:14 am   Permalink

As a little footnote, just like I thought, there actually is no way Stirling (later Sterling) Hayden would smoke a Kirsten pipe in Dildo Cay (aka Bahama Passage), cause the photo was also used for an earlier ad mentioning the movie he did before, (his first film). And Stirling had worked as a model before, so he might have modeled for the pipe photo, than became a film star, and the Kirsten Co just used what they already had paid for. But he also had no compunction to make some extra dough with ads AFTER his film career took off:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ma-0RWOrmY

That pipe, that watch...what a man!











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