Sunday, October 2, 2011

TugBoat Annie

TugBoat Annie Front CoverTugBoat Annie Back Cover
This post is about the book Tugboat Annie by Norman Reilly Raine, a Dell Book copyright 1932, 1933, and 1934 and Dell 192. The book was loaned to us from a descendent of the real life inspiration for Tugboat Annie, Thea Christiansen Foss (1857 – 1927), the founder of Foss Maritime.

The Tugboat Annie Dell book is just a few stories from the series that was authored by Norman Reilly Raine (1894 – 1971). He wrote 60 Tugboat Annie stories which appeared serialized in the Saturday Evening Post starting on July 7, 1931 and continuing for a span of 30 years. (The essay that appears in The Pacific Northwest Forum, Vol.5, Number 2 says that there were 75 stories and the first story appeared on July 11, 1931.) Raine is also known for the 1937 biographical film The Life of Emile Zola (1937) and as the screenwriter for the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). Speaking of film, Tugboat Annie (1933) was a film based on the series. The movie was followed by Tugboat Annie Sails Again (1940) with Jane Wyman and Ronald Reagan, Captain Tugboat Annie (1945), and Tugboat Annie (1957) a Canadian TV Series. Who knew that public’s appetite for a “magnificent, blowsy, canny, raucous, hard-boiled, and heart-warming skipper” was so big? Tugboat Annie had quite a run, from the Great Depression and almost up to the hippies. We can see it now, Tugboat Annie Meets Timothy Leary: “ye furry-headed sprat!”

The Stories

The book contains six “Exciting” stories: No Cure, No Pay, Ol Mefoozelem, A Man of Few Words, When Greek Meets, Greek, The Last Laugh, and Iron John. Each story is between 20 and 30 pages. The two main characters we meet in these six stories are:

- Tugboat Annie Brennan, “blowsy, raucous, hard-boiled” senior captain at the Secoma Deep-Sea Towing and Salvage Company. Her tug is the Narcissus. Captain Terry Brennan is the deceased husband of Annie. She keeps a picture of him in a “plush-and-gold oval frame” above her bunk. She talks to the picture when she needs inspiration in her hijinks to outsmart Bullwinkle. Annie is “large of frame and solidly built, with rugged features and shrewd blue eyes under beetle brows. Her elephantine energy is galvanic, her language is sulphurous, her ways are tough – but her heart is as warm and as soft as butter.”

- Captain Horatio Bullwinkle, Annie’s rival. He is the captain of the Salamander. All the stories revolve around Annie’s successful attempts to beat back Bullwinkle’s tricks for taking business away from her. “He is a self-confident, swaggering, contemptuous, and scheming” man.

The supporting cast: Alec Severn, president of Annie’s company; Big Sam, engineer on the Narcissus; Old Mefoozelem, a crusty old land-locked captain; Murdoch McArdle, a shrewd lumber dealer; Captain Esau Leroy, Annie’s old friend who loves a good brawl; Mr. Levanway, a bland, scheming first officer of a large ship; and Iron John McGinnes, Annie’s old and diminutive friend who always gets the last word.

The Language

Annie is the master of mixed-metaphors and colorful one-liners often directed at Bullwinkle, her rival. He often is just as clever in the comebacks.

The comebacks and one-liners reminded us of the The Snark Handbook, Insult Edition: Comebacks, Taunts, and Effronteries by Lawrence Dorfman. Annie’s dialogue would fit in with the samples in the short chapter Smarts (Or Lack Thereof). For example:

“Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?”

“She doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘fear’, but then again, she doesn’t know the meaning of most words.”

“The twinkle in his eyes is actually the sun shining between his ears.”

Anyway, here are some samples from this TugBoat Annie book:

p. 10 The first meeting between Bullwinkle and Annie as they are racing their tugs.

“Think ye’ll know me again, horse face?” Tugboat Annie bawled, when she found she could not eye him down.

He nodded. “Once seen, never forgot, worse luck Anyways, I’ve seen ye before.”

“Where?” demanded Annie.

“In the Frisco’ zoo.” He grinned again, and added, charitably, “Though it might ha’ been only a near relation.”

p. 15 Annie, talking to her boss Alec Severn:

“That Bullwinkle carbuncle!” she exploded. “He’s takin’ jobs from us, right and left and hindways.”

p. 18 Annie to Bullwinkle on what he should do.

“Me? I’d recommend a faddom o’rope and a rafter, and I’m willin’ to kick away the chair!”

p. 22 Annie to Bullwinkle.

“When I look at you … I know why barmaids eats their young.”

p. 48 Morning greeting between Bullwinkle and Annie.

“How are ye this morning, Annie?”

“I was feelin’ swell up to a second ago,” Annie told him. “But now I got a nasty black spot afore me eyes.”

“You ain’t eggzackly a pick-me-up-yerself, Annie.”

p. 73 Annie passing Bullwinkle on a street in Secoma.

“Hi, there, Annie!” saluted the detested voice of Mr. Horatio Bullwinkle. “What are doin’ – trottin’ some o’ your fat off?”

“Seein’ you reminds me – I’m goin’ up to buy some dog biscuit!” she snapped.

“Doctor’s orders?” asked Mr. Bullwinkle with a grin. “We got a nice beef bone down on the Salamander. If it’s any good to ye, just bark!”

p. 87 Annie to Bullwinkle.

“Don’t drop over the side,” Annie told him. “Ye’d spile the sound for fishin’.”

p. 94 Annie to Murdoch McArdle a horse-faced lumber dealer after he threatens her.

“Sticks and stones butters no parsnips, McArdle. Ye’d best be civil.”

p. 99 Annie to herself.

“My goodness, I’m that hungry I could eat a horse and chase the driver…”

p. 102 Annie talking about a friend, Captain Esau Leroy.

“Trouble with Esau is, he’ll fight at the drop of a hat – and he ain’t so pa’tickler about the hat.”


Happy Days are Here Again

Annie’s “theme” song seems to be Happy Days are Here Again, written (or at least copyrighted) in 1929 by Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics). The lyrics go like this: “Happy days are here again. They skies above are clear again. So let’s sing a song of cheer again. Happy days are here again.” Tugboat Annie’s version is: “Oh, happy days are here some more…. And, she roars it inharmoniously.

First Page of Tugboat Annie

The Thea Foss, A Motor Yacht.
The Thea Foss

The Bashing of Bullwinkle by Harold Von Schmidt [ref]
The Bashing of Bullwinkle by Harold Von Schmidt

Tugboat Annie by Anton Otto Fischer – March 13, 1939 Saturday Evening Post [ref]

6 comments:

  1. I well remember the Tugboat Annie stories carried by the Saturday Evening Post, as well as the television series, part of which was filmed in Toronto Harbour. The stories' author, Norman Reilly Raines, though U.S.-born, worked in Canada and served in the Canadian military. Marie Dressler, who starred in the Tugboat Annie movies, was from Cobourg, Ontario.

    Thanks for this intriguing bit of nostalgia. Very well done. Enjoyed the pictures as well.

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  2. I well remember the Tugboat Annie stories carried by the Saturday Evening Post, as well as the television series, part of which was filmed in Toronto Harbour. The stories' author, Norman Reilly Raine, though U.S.-born, worked in Canada and served in the Canadian military. Marie Dressler, who starred in the Tugboat Annie movies, was from Cobourg, Ontario.

    Thanks for this intriguing bit of nostalgia. Very well done. Enjoyed the pictures as well.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I didn't know that about the Toronto Harbour. We got on loan the film "Finding Thea" which gave some more background for Tugboat Annie character.

    I hope to read another story or two this year in the series. I need some more Tugboat Annie-isms.

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  4. Hi TravelMarx. Love this post considering our organization, Northwest Seaport, owns the Narcissus (Arthur Foss), moored at Lake Union Park's Historic Ships Wharf. Please use the CONTACT form on our website to be in touch with us soon, for the tugboat is 125 years in 2014.

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  5. I didn't know about the Narcissus - Arthur Foss connection (http://nwseaport.org/historic-fleet/tugboat-arthur-foss/). We'll be stopping by soon for a look. Thanks and happy birthday to the Arthur Foss!

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  6. My name is Lee M. Harris, Sr. I'm the Manager fro Norman Reilly Raine's Widow Elizabeth Prudhomme Raine. When Elizabeth met Norman, he was much older than she so much of his younger life was never knowledge of hers. If you have any information that would help her concerning Norman's earlier year living outside the US, please contact me at eternalchoice2@yahoo.com, thanks!!!

    ReplyDelete