My dad [worked] for the Norwegian government and during the Second World War, he used to hunt whale for a living. I always thought that was pretty unusual. It wasn’t like Moby Dick and Captain Ahab, that type of thing. The story he relayed to me one time about what happened during the war with the Nazis, three seamen would go out in a small boat after the whale. I’m guessing one would operate the boat; the second would take care of the harpoon, which unlike Moby Dick, it wasn’t thrown manually, but it was loaded into a cannon and the harpoon had an explosive head. You would have to set the timer, and then it would shoot the whale and then in a certain period of time, it would discharge and it would kill the whale that way. And the only reason I mention this is because of what happened.
Norway was occupied at that time and England was being ravaged, he was telling me, and ordinarily, when they went out to sea, they only went out for six months and had provisions for that length, and they had been out for 14 months, and he was coming down with hepatitis B. The whole crew was getting sick. They didn’t have things to eat, tepid water to drink, that type of thing. And, he was so sick that when they were supposed to go out and hunt the whale, and like I say, his job was to load the harpoon into the cannon, set the timer, well, his friend went in his place and his friend took his job, his best friend as he put it, and when he was loading the harpoon up to set the timer, it discharged and killed everybody in the boat. Because of espionage, the Nazis had gone to Canada where - and you won’t see this on the History Channel - where the timers were made, and they sabotaged them because the Norwegians were the best whalers, because that’s what they did for a living. The timer went off because they had tampered with it. The main thing was they were using the oil for high explosives, so that’s why the Nazis wanted to eliminate the competition, and he told me a few stories like that. So, at any rate, he ended up, I guess, well, he finished as a merchant seaman, and this was all during the period of the war, and he ended up in New York City.
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