With all the recent, and rather dreadful talk about many desperate immigrants and refugees, a positive role model, Captain Duncan Cook came to mind. Immigrants, like Captain Duncan Cook, lie at the heart of what makes America a great nation. I wanted to add Captain Cook to my Grace Line pages but decided to post his biography under Fran's Notebook. I was also recently contacted by a grand-daughter of the Captain's, Meredith, who noted I was going to do a brief biography on him as I stated some time ago in my Grace Line pages. For those who were waiting, sorry for the delay. See note below for a books.google.com on his family's essays on Captain Cook.
Some notes from: The New York Times August 23, 1953:
The son of a seagoing man, Captain Cook went to sea at the age of 16 as deck boy on a British tramp bound for the Black Sea. Soon thereafter he made several trips aboard square-rigged sailing ships. Captain Cook, "To tell you the truth, I went mainly because sailors in those days looked down on you if you didn't have a bit of time under a canvas. It was a good experience, though."
Five years later, he sat for his second mate's (officers') ticket and remained a deck officer. Unlike, the late Gilbert S. Schugart, the keeper of these photo archives (see my Grace Line Page), Cook never was a cadet or schoolship man. Captain Cook, "You might say that I came up the hawsepipe and over the poop-deck."
In 1913, he came ashore to the USA, and decided he liked to stay. When the United States entered the (WWI) war, he did too, as a Navy lieutenant on transports. He was assigned to the Santa Barbara, first of three Grace ships of that name he would command as executive officer.
Captain Cook took a special liking to one of the troops who boarded his transport - a young woman Army nurse and an Edinburgh girl. She, Violet, became his wife. ( she became the port captain at their Rowayton, Conn. home)
After WWI, the Santa Barbara went back to Grace Line, as did Cook. In 1919 he became Chief Officer of the Santa Barbara. In 1920 his first command was the freighter Santa Rosa. Between the two wars, he commanded Grace vessels in service to California, to the Caribbean (where Gilbert served as First Mate under Captain Cook), and the west coast of South America (also where Schugart served and sailed).
After Pearl Harbor, Captain Duncan Cook, returned to the Navy along with Grace liner Santa Lucia, renamed the Leedstown. Cook commanded the ship into Algiers in the North African invasion with cargo and troops. (note in the Grace Line Pages where Gilbert Schugart served on the Liberty Ship the William Carson which took fire during the D-Day Invasion, photos included)
While unloading offshore, the ship was damaged slightly by enemy aircraft. She then took a mortal blow a short time later when a torpedo hit, killing ten of her crew. After several hours, the order was given to abandon ship and the rest of his officers and crew got off safely.
The Grace Line, in desperate need of men to man the merchant ships as were other companies, asked the Navy
to send Cook back to them. So the Navy 'three-striper' put on his old Merchant Mariner four stripes for the rest of the war and carried vital cargoes to various theaters of action around the world.
After WWII, Cook went back on the South American run which he 'enjoyed' but regretfully confessed, 'not being able to master Spanish.' He was asked what will he do with his time at age 65? Small boating, maybe, because he lived near Long Island Sound. A second trip to Scotland -he and his wife took a plane there in 1952. Captain Cook: "I never realized it, but I've been so busy going to sea that I never had a time to pick up a hobby."
Retirement aka "Swallowed the anchor." July 22, 1953 Captain Duncan Cook of (then) 126 Rowayton Ave., Rowayton, Conn. was honored with a testimonial dinner by officers, crew and staff of his ship, Grace Line S.S. Santa Barbara, at Pappas Restaurant, 254 West Fourteenth St., New York City. His final retirement date was set for September 1, 1953 after 34 years of service with Grace Line and nearly 50 years at sea. With respect and affection, he was presented with a model of the Grace Line ship he had commanded since her launching in 1946, the S.S. Santa Barbara. Many former shipmates, and shoreside friends attended his farewell dinner.
Take some time to read about United States Merchant Mariners. They transport passengers and endless cargo during peacetime, and in time of war, they can become an auxiliary to the Navy where they have delivered both military personnel and supplies. Most are unaware of their steady role in keeping commerce literally afloat in many nations, and in all bodies of waters from oceans to rivers to lakes.
NOTE: If you go to books.google.com and search under the title: Years Into Lives, Pages From Our Family Stories; pages 9-74 you can read a memoir in a few short chapters by his family on Captain Cook. Place 'Captain Duncan Cook' or 'Violet Lynch' aka VCL in their search engine. There are photos of his first sailing ship, of him as a young man as well. It is a lovely read. It is noted that Captain Duncan Cook became a 'citizen by naturalization July 16, 1918.' His marriage is noted as April 16, 1922. Also noted was that his children brought their parents ashes back to Scotland in 1997. He was born in 1888. I am not certain of his date of death.