What you're looking at in the background is the famous Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco. No mystery there -- standard tourist fare. Ah but the YEAR... is 1973!!! The woman on the right is Jeanne Bensema, and her daughter is thirteen-year-old Susie Bensema, already smitten with things of the sea, and of the imagination.
This man is not Dad, but Reverend Bob Stewart, a friend of the family we dropped in on. Actually he was the man who married Mom and Dad, so in a very real way, if it weren't for him I wouldn't be around!
Don't you love those old fashioned cars...
We wandered closer and watched.
I was swept away by the romance of ships. To be able to sail anywhere in the world... free upon the high seas... safe... to be doing good for others...
More than twenty years later I would find out that the White Star line named all its ships with a city name followed by the word 'star.' Sister ships to this one included the Perth Star. The city of Timaru is on the south side of South Island, New Zealand. The name itself (again, it took me more than 20 years to find this out) is a Maori (Polynesian) place name for the harbor there. Te Maru means 'safe harbor,' indicating that was the only safe place to land along the coast.
Sometime in the next year, influenced by a couple of other events --reading a book called "The Great Ice Ship Bear" and playing a game called When My Ship Comes In with my new best friend Gretchen Lockwood (I met her when we were both 14) -- I settled in my mind what MY ship would be like when it came in. It would be magical, an icebreaker. (Icebreakers took on a symbolic meaning for me: one who could conquer problems, pioneer a way through.) It could sail anywhere; it had a model horse stable and tack shop in the hold; and it would be named after the Timaru Star. I added a "II" or "the second" to distinguish my ship from the original real one I had seen that day in 1973. Much later, when the time came to actually launch my model tack shop as a mail order business -- in 1979 -- I remembered that magical ship. I wrote short stories about her, and one of them was published in Just About Horses in 1983.
But that's another story.
And so was born the TSII. No one could have foreseen that a schoolchild's imagination would last longer than an iron cargo ship. The Timaru Star was scrapped in the mid-1980s. Just about the time my tackshop was getting off the ground. (I like to think her spirit passed into it.) To my surprise, a second Timaru Star was built in the 2000s, and it is sailing today -- a supertanker based out of Hong Kong. Why did they keep the name alive? I have no idea, we don't know for sure... but I like to think my little tack shop had something to do with it.. a subliminal influence, perhaps. By then the Web was up and running, and my ideas and use of the name would appear in any search engine.
Who can say. One thing's for sure. I will always love ships and sailing, always have a romance with the sea, and always respect the power of imagination.
Dreams can come true.