A LAKE VETERAN
Capt. Grover, of Chicago, with His Half-Century Record.
Chicago boasts the distinction of having for a resident the oldest living lake navigator. His name is Capt. Thomas Grover, and he began his career as a lake salt 53 years ago, when he shipped as a forecastle hand on a little brig which traded between Cleveland and Erie. Capt. Grover is 80 years old, but is so hale and hearty that he does not look a day over 60.
"When I began sailing on these waters, in 1833," he said in the course of a conversation with a reporter, "things were a little different from what they are now. Our vessels in those days weren't larger nor the little sand hookers you see 'round the Central slips. There wasn't many lights to steer for, no buoys to mark shoals and reefs, no regular courses to steer by, so when the weather didn't look exactly right we used to let go under the nearest lee and wait for daylight. We followed the land in them days. That was our course, and we never lost sight of it. We used to carry passengers in those little cockle shells, too, and sometimes wouldn't have any cargo but the household effects of the passengers. I've left Buffalo and Erie lots of times for Chicago when I'd have chairs and bedsteads and things like that hanging over the sides of my vessel and tied to the rigging clean up to the cross-trees. 'Pears to me we couldn't do that now, because the lakes seem to get stormier and rougher every year. I came to Chicago first in the fall of 1833, in the bark Pilgrim. There wasn't any harbor then, and we laid outside to an anchor, sending our cargo ashore in our boat."
The veteran sailor is full of reminiscences of the early days of lake sailing. Three years ago he quit the lakes to watch the warehouses of the Western Transit company, and has held that position ever since. In his time Capt. Grover sailed nearly all of the "crack" vessels on the lakes, and for years he was recognized as the best square-rigger afloat. Capt. Grover antedates the appearance of steam craft on the lakes by about 10 years.