Thursday, July 13, 2017

Throw Back Thursday

This was filmed in 1934, but it was not terribly different in 1967 when I first landed in Morocco as a young boy. The voice-over is dated and hyped, but most of what you see here was the country of my youth, albeit one we considered normal and not exotic, romantic, or mysterious.


Rick said...

Patrick, your video has unleashed a flood of memories! I spent a week in January, 1971, in the port of Sousse,Tunisia, aboard a merchant freighter. The SS Adabelle Lykes, at 495', filled the dock, no room for anybody else. There was a smaller British freighter at another dock nearby. The two of us filled the entire developed part of the port area.

It took a week to unload a hold full of grain. It was loaded in a matter of an hour or two in New Orleans the month before, and could have been off loaded in a short day with the machinery of the time. But that was not the case. There was virtually no infrastructure, no conveyor belts nor any other type of machinery. Instead, men, empty bags, and pallets were lowered into the hold with our cargo cranes. They filled the bags, sewed them closed, and lifted the grain out of there one pallet at a time. Oxcarts were the most common form of transport out of the port, and small ancient trucks. The most modern vehicle I remember seeing was a 1948 GMC 2-ton flatbed truck.

There weren't even any buildings or warehouses, just a shack here and there, with a clear view of the town a few hundred yards distant. I look at the same scene today on Google maps, and I can't even imagine a place this big and crowded! There's a new inner breakwater and a yacht club where we were tied up. None of the buildings seen in the street view from the yacht club were there back then. Just a dry dusty expanse inside the chain link fence surrounding the port area, with a guard shack at the only gate out of there.

Each afternoon after work I would go into town, or at least the area closest to the docks. Bought a few trinkets, some of which I still have today! I scooped my beans into the coffee grinder this morning with a long handled brass scoop, and I vaguely remember haggling with the vendor, settling on pennies, though I don't remember the exact price. There were no bars, and the only alcohol in town was aboard our ship and the British freighter, and our crews were the only foreigners in town. Most of the men I worked with were old and jaded WW2 vets who had been to dozens of backwater ports like this, and they hardly ever ventured ashore. But it was all new to me, and I wandered the streets of the old quarter, marveling at all I saw. How I wish I had carried a camera back then!

Thanks for stirring up these old memories!

PBurns said...

I lived in Tunisia as a youngster, 1964-1965, right in the heart of Carthage, with mosaics collected in old Tiger brand dried milk boxes. We roasted field corn over the coals in the back yard -- as close as I ever had to sweet corn as a youngster. We moved to Morocco in 1968, with a 1937 Bentley in tow (there's a post with a picture of the car on this blog) and later to Algeria with the same car. As you note, North Africa was very different them from what it is now. Ouarzazate. Morocco, for example , had only 4,000 people, at most, when I was there as a kid, and now it has a population of 105,000. Tangier has grown exponentially under the new King who has built three new ports at this edge of Africa (smart!) and hooked them up to the rest of the country with new railroad track and stattions (very smart!). When I lived in Algeria, it has the fastest population growth in the world, with the average woman having over 7.6 children.