Pirate Stories

In preparation for spending a week in Seaside, Florida with my younger daughter Bonnie and her family, I opted to make it a Pirate-themed vacation. I picked up a set of Pirate action figures, but (upon polite understandable request) removed all their weapons, which included pistols, knives, and cutlasses. While this limited the crew’s culinary activities at any bonfire pig roasts it did make things safer if the crew became “jolly-rogered” from too much rum. Weapons and alcohol are not a safe combination even for action figures.

My grandsons Myrick, 5, and Larson, 20 months liked the new toys and they got into the spirit, especially Larson who forced the buccaneers to walk the plank into the backyard pool. The family even assigned them names. Shown in the picture above are six of the crew members left to right: Cannonball, Bones, Burnside Capri, Captain Hook, Scurvy, and Ocean Dancer. (Not shown are Grog and Ponytail who presumably are lost at sea or disappeared in the car ride home.)

Treasure Island

Stevenson_-_Treasure_island _1933Also in anticipation, I brought along a copy of Treasure Island published by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1883. This was the 100th Anniversary Edition, which has artwork from the 1934, which did not spare any weapon imagery.  My selection was based that it was illustrated without being a graphic novel. I read some of this to Myrick in the car and at bedtime, but it was thick with a lot of old-timey language. I did my best pirate accents (aaargh, I’m awful) and tried to edit on the fly while I read to simplify the plot. It’s a good adventure and Myrick indulged me by asking lots of questions like “What is rum?”

Later I drifted down to the center of Seaside and Sundog Books, which had a wide selection of vacation reads, books about Florida, children’s books. I picked up two books one about a duck family who goes to the beach and Margaret Wise’s The Sailor Dog. Both, along with a sticker book of construction equipment, proved invaluable on the trip home

 When I Was a Pirate

However, it was Bonnie who found the perfect book at a different shop in Seaside. Tom Silson’s When I Was a Pirate. It is the story of a retired pirate who reflects on his seafaring adventures as a young man. Though he longs for days when he traveled the globe visiting distant lands (no mention of pillaging or mutinies), his “sore back and aching knees” magically disappear as he chases his (well-armed) grandchildren on the sandy beach.

Definitely a pirate story I could identify with.

From "When I Was a Pirate"


June 23, 2023

August 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

March 08, 2022

December 31, 2021

April 25, 2021

March 24, 2021

May 13, 2020

October 24, 2019

September 14, 2019

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Books Read in 2023

  • Michael Herr: Dispatches (1977)
  • Mary Wollestonecraft Shelley: Frankenstein (1819, 1831)
  • Jeff Goodell: The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet (2023)
  • John Okada: No-No Boy (1958)
  • John Keegan: The First World War (1998)
  • Mark Kurlansky: The Basque History of the World (1999)
  • Colin Dickey: Under the Eye of Power : How Fear of Secret Societies Shapes American Democracy (2023)
  • Georges Simenon: Maigret Hesitates (1969)
  • Ian Frazier: Dating Your Mom (1986)
  • Richard Ford: Let Me Be Frank With You (2014)
  • Timothy Snyder: Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010)
  • Marc Hamer: How to Catch a Mole (2019)
  • Colum McCann: TransAtlantic (2013)
  • Captivating History (no official author): Irish History: A Captivating Guide to the History of Ireland (2021)
  • Saidiya Hartman: Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (2019)
  • James Joyce: Dubliners (1914)
  • W.G. Sebald: Vertigo (1990)
  • Philip Kerr: The Pale Criminal (1990)
  • Henry Petroski: Force: What It Means to Push and Pull, Slip and Grip, Start and Stop (2022)
  • Harry G. Frankfort: On Bullshit (2005)
  • Colson Whitehead: The Nickel Boys (2019)
  • Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness (1902)
  • Amitav Ghosh: The Hungry Tide (2005)
  • Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing: The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (2015)
  • David Maraniss : A Path Lit by Lightning: The Jim Thorpe Story (2022)
The book that started it all.
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