By an unimaginable coincidence my wife and I happened to be in Aruba for a short vacation at exact the same day that the owners of the axe that was used to launch the ss Dahlia (original name of the ss Mediator) visited Aruba on board of a cruise ship. So when we found this out during our mail conversations an appointment was made to meet at the cruise terminal. My wife and I were waiting at the gate of the cruise terminal at 9 AM; I was wearing my Alphen / Mediator T-shirt to be recognizable and I was holding a picture of them that I got from Elizabeth via e-mail.
Soon I spotted Tom and Elizabeth in the crowd of passengers that were leaving the ship. We all agreed that the best thing to do was to show them the island; they had booked for a trip with a touring car at 12:30 PM so that would need to be the time that we should be back at the gate.
During the roundtrip we visited the Lighthouse California, the rock formation at Casibari, we went for a lunch at the main attraction in San Nicolaas, Charlie's Bar, and we went swimming at Baby Beach. Meanwhile we discussed among others the axe. The story is intriguing and there are quite some loose ends. But that makes it even more interesting. Tom and Elizabeth are living in a house that is a historical monument. During some small alterations of the house the axe was discovered in a wall. That in itself is a mystery. It suggests that the original owner of the axe wanted to assure that the axe would stay with the house or not be found for a long time. After this first discovery apparently the axe was stowed away and forgotten. Only recently it was found again while cleaning out the attic. And that was when Elizabeth and Tom searched the Internet for information about it and came in contact with me. During their recent cruise they met a fellow passenger who told them about a jewelled tiny axe that was used in modern times to launch a ship in The Netherlands (the Kungsholm III).
I also found some information about using an axe for the launch of a ship on the Internet. Two quotes:
"Japanese ship launchings incorporate silver axes which are thought to bring good luck and scare away evil. Japanese shipbuilders traditionally order the crafting of a special axe for each new vessel; and after the launching ceremony, they present the axe to the vessel's owner as a commemorative gift. The axe is used to cut the rope which tethers the ship to the place where she was built" and "This ornate silver and tortoise shell casket, with a representation of the ship, holds the ceremonial axe used to launch the Canadian Pacific Railway steamer MONTCALM at Glasgow's John Brown Shipyard on July 3, 1920. The axe, made of gilded bronze and ivory, was held by Lady Fisher, who used it to cut a thread that held back a champagne bottle. Released by the thread, the bottle crashed into the bow to christen MONTCALM". So it seems that there was at least in the 20th century a tradition of saving the axe that was used during the launch of a ship. The axe that is used to launch the SS Dahlia is a real one but apparently this one was also meant to be saved after the launch.
This is about all that is known about the axe at this time. Tom and Elizabeth will try to find out how the axe ended up in their current house. That house is built 15 years after the launch of the ship. I would assume that Miss Hargrove, who most probably is a daughter of the ship builder, kept the axe after the launch and that there is some relationship between her and the first owner of the house that Tom and Elizabeth are living in now.
We had such a good time that the time passed quickly and Tom and Elizabeth decided to skip the planned bus tour in the afternoon to have some more time together. After the lunch at Charlie's Bar we went to Baby Beach were we went for a swim. Around 3 PM we went back to the cruise terminal. We all had a great day.
- At the California Lighthouse speaking pidgin English At the California Lighthouse speaking pidgin English
- Near Alto Vista chapel buying a rosary Near Alto Vista chapel buying a rosary
- Inside the Alto Vista chapel Inside the Alto Vista chapel
- Climbing the Rock Formation at Casibari Climbing the Rock Formation at Casibari
- View from the top of the rock formation at the Hooiberg View from the top of the rock formation at the Hooiberg
- Enjoying the view at the top of the rock formation Enjoying the view at the top of the rock formation
- How did these rocks get here? Apparently they have a volcanic origin. How did these rocks get here? Apparently they have a volcanic origin.
- Eating lunch in Charlie's Bar in San Nicolaas Eating lunch in Charlie's Bar in San Nicolaas
- Charlie's Bar Charlie's Bar