Sinking Of The Metapan

author: William Owen Treacy

James P. Treacy and Estelle M. Rasche were married in 1914, and they traveled by rail on their honeymoon to New Orleans where they boarded the steamer Metapan, bound for the newly opened Panama Canal. They arrived and spent a number of days in Panama. I, William O. Treacy, remember my mom telling me that it rained every afternoon and was always very humid. She said that the post office from whence she sent postcards back to relatives and friends had a container of glue to adhere the stamps onto the cards the stamps having none due that the humidity would stick them together had they had glue on them.

The Metapan was a “banana boat” and so it picked up a load of bananas for return to the U.S. Notwithstanding it had elegant accommodations for the travelers and the Treacys dined with the captain, on one occasion they served shrimp and mom got deathly sick that night, likely from seasickness but mom decided that it was the shrimp and, and a result we kids grew up never eating one shrimp at 115 Second Street. Mom would not buy it or serve it.

On the return trip to New York with the bananas a dense fog enveloped the harbor and the Metapan was rammed by the steamer Iowan and within five minutes the bow was almost underwater. Lifeboats were lowered and among the first passengers aboard them was my mom. She had climbed down the rope ladder to board but the swells kept moving the lifeboat up and down so far that she was afraid to let go and board. She described to me that the sailors used “vile, vile” language telling her to let go. Finally a sailor reached up, grabbed her ankle and pulled her into the boat. She remembered seeing bunches of bananas floating all around the harbor. They were taken to a hotel in the city where their sodden luggage was delivered to them prior to their return to Oakland by rail.

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