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Barges & Tugboats

The Narcissus - Hardworking tugboat seen on the maritime adventure THE ADVENTURES OF TUGBOAT ANNIE/SYN/1957-58. Operating in the Pacific Northwest (actually scenes of San Pedro Harbor), the Narcissus was owned by Murdock Severn (Stan Francis) of the Severn Tugboat Company and skippered by Annie Brennan (Minerva Urecal), a feisty middle-aged female known as Tugboat Annie (aka "The Old Petticoat").

Additional crew members included Pinto the tug cook (Don Orlando) and Shiftless the deckhand (Eric Clavering).

The Tugboat Annie character was created by Norman Reilly Raine whose short stories first appeared in the July 11, 1931 issue of Saturday Evening Post magazine.

Shot in Ontario, the TV series was produced by Normandie Productions, a Canadian subsidiary of Television Programs of America, in association with Associated Rediffusion of the U.K. Lever Brothers sponsored the show.

In real-life, the "Tugboat Annie" character was inspired by Thea Foss who started Foss Tug and Barge Company in 1889 in Washington State. Marie Dressler starred in the 1933 movie version with Wallace Beery co-starring as the blustery often drunk Horatio Bullwinkle (played by Walter Sande on the TV series).

Below: Text from Annie's Very First Short Story

Tugboat Annie stood at the wheel with a huge bean sandwich in one fist and a blue-granite mug of steaming coffee near by, dividing her time between eating, steering and watching speculatively the head of Conroy, who stood on the forward deck, his hostile face turned toward the stormy waters of the strait ahead. She hailed him:

“Foul-weather Jack’s abroad, so if ye like fresh air ye’ll get plenty before the night’s out.”

He rounded on her, his eyes hard as lint through his glasses, his clothes wrinkled and spattered with salt spray. But before he could deliver the spiteful comment that rose to is lips, one of the deck hands appeared in the pilot house.

He said, ‘‘Annie, Sam sent me to tell you that Shiftless is drunk as a fiddler’s dog. He can’t go on watch.’’

“What’s that?” Tugboat Annie roared, ‘‘Here! Take the wheel., Look out, ye clumsy ox!  There now. Keep her as she is."

She lumbered hastily aft and disappeared down the engine- room housing. For a few minutes there was the sound of a minor hurricane below, dominated by her vigorous bellow. She reappeared, breathless and disheveled, followed by the oil-grimed figure of Sam, the engineer.

“That’ll l'arn him, eh?’’ she threw over her shoulder. The big man grinned.

TRIVIA NOTE: In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a beautiful youth who refused the love of anyone. Punished for his indifference, he was made to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Transfixed to the image, (which was unattainable in the physical sense) he pined away and eventually turned into a flower.


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