Monday, January 01, 2018

New Year's Day on the Karluk: The Last Voyage of the Karluk by Captain Bob Bartlett, January 1, 1914

...We had our own New Year's celebration, though it was only a coincidence that it came on this particular day, for we had planned a football game on the ice when the weather should be good and the wind fairly light; New Year's Day happened to be the first good day for it.

The ball was made of seal-gut, cut into sections and sewed up, with surgeon's plaster over the seams. We blew it up with a pipe stem and plugged up the hole. To protect the ball we had a sealskin casing made to fit it; the result was a fairly good ball, constructed on the same principle as any college football.

It was Scotland vs. All-Nations; the game was association football, played on a field of regulation size laid out on young ice about a foot and half in thickness. At each end of the field were goal posts with the usual cross-bar.

Fireman Breddy was captain of All-Nations and Mr. Munro of Scotland. The Eskimo, though not well-versed in the game, played well. Keruk, clad as usual in dress and bloomers, was goal tender for All-Nations. Some of the players wore skin boots, other ordinary American shoes. I had forgotten a good deal about the association game but I refreshed my memory from the encyclopedia in the ship's library and armed with a mouth-organ in lieu of a whistle took my place as referee, umpire and time-keeper. I soon found, however, that the cold would make it too dangerous for me to use the 'whistle", for it would freeze to my lips and take the skin off, so I had to give my signals for play by word of mouth....
(To be continued.)

This excerpt is from The Last Voyage of the Karluk An Epic of Death and Survival in the Arctic, 1913-1916 as related by her captain, Robert A. Bartlett and here set down by Ralph T. Hale (published in 1916 by Small, Maynard and Company, Inc.; unabridged audiobook edition narrated by Frank Holden published by Rattling Books).