Eating According to Rank, cont.

When the Captain's family was on board, things were altered somewhat. William "Fish" Williams, son of Captain William Harold Williams gave this recollection his family's dining experience when he was a teenager on the Florence in 1873-74: "The cabin was divided into the forward cabin and the after cabin by a partition at the end of the dining table. The table was fitted with a dish rack which was always in place when the ship was under sail. A wooden bench with a reversible back was secured to the floor, one on each side of the table. The table was always set twice for each meal. At the "First table," there was my father, mother, sister, first mate and which ever was to have the next watch on deck, second or third mate. The mate going off duty, the fourth mate, cooper, steward and I sat down at the "second table."

Once the officers had finished their meal, the group that included boatsteerers/harpooners, the carpenter, cooper and blacksmith were admitted to the cabin. This "middle class" group of men were afforded some comfort at mealtime, but unlike the officers before them held little regard for formality of who sat where. Butter had been removed from the table and sugar replaced by molasses. If meats or produce were in short supply, they were the first group to have less.

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San Francisco National Maritime Park