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January 15, 1958 - Image 14

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Michigan Daily, 1958-01-15
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Wednesday, January 15 1958 Wednesday, January 15, 1958



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The Life of a Lake Sailor

Changing Values in College' a Provocative Volum

Daily Staff Writer
STANDING on Duluth's Lake
Superior pier, Detroit's Am-
bassador Bridge, or in the Soo
Lock's park, the observer watches
a Great Lakes freighter head out
into the lake or glide down the
river or be lifted slowly to the
water level on another lake. And
he thinks how nice it would be to
sail on that boat, to actually go
where it goes. Perhaps the idea
is a romantic one, inspired by
countless tales of the sea. He may
be weary of the earthbound life,
and for a brief moment, as the
ship glides out of sight, dreams the
dream that the ship before his
eyes and the memories of the
books and movies have stimulated.
The observer might-if he spots
a seaman walking along the deck
-wave to him in hopes of a re-
sponse, a connection with the
If he ever had the opportunity
to take a trip on that boat, to
Duluth for a load of Masabi ore
and back to a Lake Erie port, the
dream would bb partially fulfilled.
Nobody travels in the winter, and
in summer he would thrill briefly
at the fresh, water-cleansed air
brushing against his face. He
would marvel at the scenery as the
ship twisted its way through the
St. Mary's River. And he would
never forget his first awe at the
Aurora Borealis, hanging in the

It Separates Him Forever
From the Landlubber's World

nighttime Lake Superior sky likeF
a great cathedral.
YES, HE WOULD find the peace
of getting away from his world
refreshing. Perhaps he might want
to do it again, if he didn't stay
long enough to be bored or if there
were no storms. Still, although he
would be able to tell his friends
about his remarkable trip, 'he
would be ignorant of the most
interesting and significant part of
the sailing life, the men who sail
for a living.
He wouldn't know that the deck-
hand leaning on the rail as the
ship passed 'within yards of a
beautiful Port Huron river-front
home, is wondering why he ever
set foot on a boat. The thought
wouldn't occur to him that a sail-
or, walking back to his ship along
a residential avenue or a gay, busy,
downtown area, thinks only of the
time when he too will fit into this
life. The casual observer on the
pier or riverside park never thinks
about the men who sail the ships
because the ship itself prompts his
temporary dream. If he does ever
try to picture the seaman, the
typical image of a husky, foul-

mouthed, carefree, brawling drift-
er is all that takes shape in his
mind. And though the adventurous
youth may admire his life and
adult culture abhor it, neither
really understands it. The mer-
chant seaman lives in a world that
would bewilder the passenger.
Why? Perhaps the answer partly
lies in the environment. But there
is more to it than that. There is
also the way of life to -be con-
ONSIDER, first, the fact that
the sailor, in most cases, is
hired on a ship not by the com-
pany, but through the union or
shipping depot. Ships' officers call
the hall when they need a man.
A seaman can be fired or quit on
a few minutes notice and still be
able to get another job, unhindered
except by a wait for another boat.
What happens if an employee on
land gets fired, or decides to quit
because he is irritated? He gets
no references. His record is
marred. No matter how competent
he may be, such an action would
have definite effect on his chance
of getting another job as good or
better than the one he vacated.

This and another important factor
mnakes the seaman relatively in-
dependent. Nobody cares about
his personal life, his IQ or whether
or not he can pass favorably a
personality test. His qualification
for work is that he can handle his
job. His personal life is his own.
WHAT ABOUT his actual ship-
board life? In essence, it is
lonely. Sailors travel alone. They
may have shipboard companions,
but these are lost when they leave
the ship. And on the ships there
are only a limited number of peo-
ple with whom to associate. There
are only so Many card games, bull
sessions, and books sent by a wom-
en's charity organization. After
that, there is nothing except for
the longing to get to port and the
nearest bar.
Many sailors below the officer
level have mo family life. The na-
ture of their work makes it dif-
ficult for any resemblance to a
normal married life to be achieved.
They have no family to visit, no
place to spend their money unless
they are in debt, and no place to
go. Their money is spent in dock-
side saloons and wasted in poker

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games. Pent-up emotions and
frustrations are taken out in liq-
HOW DOES this type of life
effect his thinking, his view of
life? Certainly, he thinks differ-
ently from the man "on the
beach." ,Although he usually
doesn't pay much attention to the
world of Sputniks, Little Rocks,
and elections, he does pay atten-
tion to certain essentials which
our landbound society could well
use. His judgement of another man
is based solely on how well that
man handles his job. Many tasks
aboard ship involve danger to hu-
man life. A man pulling a cable on
the dock trusts his life to the
cable winch operator, who-if he
happened to make a mistake-
could send the other to his death.
When cargo -hatches are being
opened or closed, a metal leaf
could).if one of the working team
wasn't alert, break loose and flip
a seaman to his destruction in the
hold. The perfect teamwork in-
volved in putting men on the dock
via the landing chair means the
difference between a safe landing
and death. It is obvious that there
is no place for fashions, cars, titles
or doors or income brackets as
criteria for judgement.
T HE SEAMAN is generally a far
more serious type than the
devil-may-care image conjured up
in the observer's mind. Life aboard
ship is dull and uneventful, and
although the ship sails from port,
the sailor is not going anywhere.
The years are long, hard, and
essentially embody the same rou-
tine. When he begins sailing, he
may have an idea of saving his
money to become more successful
on land. (This dream, by the way,
is valid. Pay is good. Room and
board costs nothing. It is a job
involving no personal overhead ex-
cept for the few articles of cloth-
ing and equipment needed for the
job. Perhaps the easiness of just
living that sort of life gets in the
way of the vision.) At any rate,
the time passes andtthe sailor
stays where he began. An agent
at one of Detroit's shipping. halls
tells the story of the young man
who once shipped out for the first
time to make money in order to
cover his divinity school costs.
Now, twenty years since, he is
still sailing - between alcohol
breaks. This manner of life has
a stiffening effect on the lives of
the sailors because they begin to
be aware that, no matter what
they planned, they will never
realize the dream they vaguely
still hold on to. Perhaps for that
reason they seldom crack jokes.
Even their' amusement has almost
sordid overtones. Poker games are
played. for high stakes. Time in
port is spent getting drunk at a
dockside bar. There is not much
room for fun in life.
THESE generalizations make it
look as if all merchant seamen
are alike, but a psychologist would
have a field day with the variety
he could find on a ship. Take, for
example, the firemen who saves
all his money to keep up his home
in Miami. He is relatively well off
-but he has never been known to
spend a cent on himself. For cloth-
ing he depends on what other
crew members would ordinarily
toss away. Or of the deckwatch, a
devoted husband and father of
five children, who attended -Cen-
tral Michigan College but claims
he can make more money by sail-
See SAILOR'S, Page 14

(continued from Page 2)
civic responsibilities or to take
inteiest in public affairs, despite
their wish to integrate well with
their neighbors. According to one
report cited in the book, only three
per cent gave top preference to
being active in snational politics
and 17 per cent thought partici-
pating in community affairs would
be one of three most satisfying
activities in life.
DESPITE his passive attitude to
life, the college student feels
that a college education is im-
portant. He complains most fre-

quently about "production line
teaching methods." The value of
the college, however, seems to be
expressed in terms of its prestige
or job-getting value to the stu-
dent, rather than the school as a
fountain of knowledge.
The college experience seems to
be confined to a process where the
young person acquires the atti-
tudes of a college student. The
student's attitudes on many sub-
jects change, but his basic values
and goals either remain or be-
come intensified.
The change in attitudes comes,
however, in his tolerance of the

actions of those around him. The
student takes a much more per-
missive attitudes towards break-
ing the law, radical thinkers and
sexual relations--towards all moral
and social values. However, these
attitudes do not reflect his own
actions. If anything, studehts tend
to conform more in their thinking
and behavior. One study included
in the book says many students
acquire these more permissive at-
titudes not from exposure to other
students, but merely from the fact
that they expect to adopt these
"college attitudes" when t h e y
enter college.
NOR DO the courses studied in
college have an effect on atti-
tudes. Social science courses are
commonly thought of as giving
the student more humanitarian
attitudes; however, another study
shows that there is no significant
difference in the values of two

classes, and one not.
Students studying

liberal arts

do not always seem' to be more
liberal than -those in other fields
of study. At one college, in fact,
the average natural science major
was rated more liberal than those
in liberal arts concentrations.
Of all the factors in higher edu-
cation, the individual instructor
has the most influence on the
attitudes of the students. The book
shows cases of students tested be-
fore and after taking one of two
sections of a course taught in
exactly the same way. One group
scored significantly higher on
ability to think critically because
of the impact of the particular
PROF. JACOB does not paint an
altogether black picture. Some
colleges, he demonstrates, do havej
atmospheres which are genuinely
conducive to influencing the values

'groups-one taking social scienceI


(Continued from Page 3)
the audience credit for "recog-
nizing the advances in the art
made by D. W. Griffith, discover-
ing star personalities, rejecting the
spuriously 'arty'." Griffith's ac-j
ceptance came so easily, not be-
cause of any perception on the
part of the audience, but because
the field itself was so 'new, the
aesthetic unformed. The novelty
of Griffith's method was a further
factor in the -public's acceptance
of his work; a fact supportable by
a comparison of the earliest Cine-
mascope movies and concurrent
productions by Stanley Kramer
and others utilizing the normal,
screen, in terms of the relative
box-office returns. By and large,
films like The Robe and Be-
neath Twelve Mile Reef win the
money race, against pictures like
The Men or Cyrano.
As to the star system, it is less
likely ,that the audience discovers
a star personality than that such
a figure is spawned on the con-
certed typewriter carriages of a
given studio's staff of publicists.
Just compare the bright glow
around Jayne Mansfield oruTab
Hunter with the relative obscurity
of Betsy Blair or James Daly. And
certainly it is unfair to applaud
the audience for rejecting some-
thing that is falsely arty when
that audience seems congenitally
incapable of distinguishing a
genuine work of art from the mil-
lions of feet of celluoid pap that
is fed to it yearly.
CLEARLY, the blame for the
degeneracy of the film cannot
be placed singly with the audience
or the executive. The director is
automatically exonerated, but be-
comes culpable at that time he
Burton Beerman appears fre-
quently as a reviewer, both on
The Daily editorial page and in
the Magazine. A senior in the
literary college and an English
major, he is from Detroit. He
has been the recipient of Hop-
wood awards for his poetry and
is at 'work on a novel.

gives .up his individual. expression
in order to carry out mandates
from producers who are blinded
by financial necessity. Both the
movie maker and the moviegoer
can challenge this unfortunate
trend by a program of self-edu-
cation. Surely, if the audience
could claim richer creteria. they
would be capable finally of ac-
cepting films of a better quality.
The book at hand is a success-
ful beginning for such a process
of education. Whatever imbalance
Knight's preference might afford
the book can be corrected with a
list of further readings included
in the volume. The film, by en-
gaging so many of our faculties
simultaneously, can transcend, in
knowing haands, the limitations of
any single art. That thought, and
the fact of leisure, with more time
for entertainment, are two more
reasons why it is imperative that
we try to keep "the liveliest art"

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