Great-great-great-grandpa was a crass SOB

December 2008

By Dodge Morgan

My family archives indicate that my great-great-great grandfather Dodge Morgan sailed boats on the ocean. This, of course, is just one more curious activity out of the distant past, an era when people used personal automobiles for transportation, cooked their food on fire flames, took walks, copulated, ate animals, smoked grass, wore bulky clothing made from either animal fur or petroleum, wrote words down on paper, had an average lifespan of 80 years, and died of cancer.

As my readers well know, I am an avid sailor myself. I like to think that I am acting out genes passed on from my ancient relative, Dodge – that it is, in fact, he who is guiding my sailing ventures now, that I have no choice in the matter.

Of course, the art and science of sailing is quite different technically than it was 100 years ago in 2008. Since the oceans have been placed off limits to all of us for environmental concerns, we moderns sail in the atmosphere. We have learned pure air sailing. Where it took my great-great-great grand-dad 150 days to sail in water around the earth – a time that, believe it or not, then set a record – I can leisurely do this over a weekend.

Dodge’s boat, American Promise, sat in the water like a piece of debris (sea trash called jetsam or flotsam in those old days; today called civilization ocean cover); my boat suspends in air. His boat was fitted with clumsy cloth sails; my boat is driven by my psyche (the old-timers would say my experience would be virtual and not actual, but they did not understand that all life is virtual rather than actual).

His boat moved at not much more than nine nautical miles per hour; my boat travels at sound speed, and I am proud to be among those who are reaching for light-speed sailing. His boat used those old-fashioned orbiting satellites for position fixing, while we have our universe grid of the 15 occupied planets to define where we are in millimeter-sized space blocks.

Dodge ate animal flesh packed in flexible metal bags and drank carbonated poison on his astoundingly long voyages. He read words printed on glued together sheets of paper for entertainment – you know, those odd and clumsy things they called books. He cleaned himself in gravity-fed sprays of H2O because hygiene air stalls had not yet been invented.

My family history has it that Dodge considered a lively and crass sense of humor as a critical component in sailing. Evidently, a sailor in those times had to laugh at him/herself as well as at the world to be considered competent. Humor tended to be extremely crude then. Can you believe that those people found activities like sex and farting to be hilarious? Even the physical act of laughing was different then. People made loud barking sounds. My guess is that people got away with the incredible noise pollution because there were only six and one-half billion of them on planet Earth and no anti-laugh legislation.

To show you how ridiculous was humor a hundred years ago, I give you some punch lines from my collection of Dodge jokes: “. . . and now you are trying to screw me out of my strawberries;” “. . . he’s only done it twice in his life, the first time he got sick and second time his hat blew off;” “. . . she said go piss in a bottle, and I said go crap in your hat, and the fight was on;” “. . . don’t mount them, just put them side by side;” “. . . under my buckin’ hat;” “I would, too, but it’s not that kind of party;” “I am not here;” “ . . . why from up here it does look like they are doing it.”

I am quite sure I couldn’t cope with life as it was a hundred years ago, but sometimes I really, really wish they would perfect the time-warp capsule so I could try.

Dodge Morgan lives on Snow Island, Maine.