Thursday, March 30, 2017
The Real Tom Sawyer
On February 16, 1853, the steamship Independence was heading north along the coast of California to San Francisco. On board were more than four hundred passengers and crew--including a twenty-one-year-old firefighter named Tom Sawyer. Sawyer was taking a break above deck when he felt a tremendous jolt. The vessel had struck a reef and he had to act fast to try to save the boat. He goes below deck to check the damage. He was in two feet of water. There was a slice in the boat that was filling up overheated boilers below the waterline causing them to cool off rapidly. When the coal bunkers flooded the Chief Engineer and his men began to toss wood from the staterooms into the furnace. The blowers were useless which ended up causing the flames to shoot out of the furnace doors and ignite the woodwork in the room and around the smokestacks. The boilers have exploded turning the engine room into an inferno. Within minutes the flames spread to the main deck and it is out of control. The ship is going down. Chaos ensues.
People are beginning to go overboard and drown. Sawyer, a strong swimmer, immediately goes in and begins to swim out and take people to shore. Someone goes above deck to get to the lifeboats but finds nearly all broken and that only two are able to be fixed enough to be seaworthy. Sawyer puts one into the water and crams as many people as he can into it. Then he passes out lifejackets out to others and has them jump into the water. He tells those in the water to form a human chain and grab a hold of the boat and he rows them over a hundred yards to the shore.
But the story doesn't end there. Because he goes back and does it again. And again. And again. He continues until the ship has sunk and there is no one else to save. He ends up saving ninety people total and twenty-six individually He is lauded as a hero and rightly so.
In 1863 a young man named Samuel Clemens had an idea for a book about a mischievous little boy. However, he had yet to find a name for his main character. That's when his path crossed with Tom Sawyer who told him his tale. Clemens was so impressed with his story and his bravery that he decides to name his little boy Tom Sawyer. In 1876 the novel will be released to wide acclaim and become the classic it is today.