Before Navy Pier became NAVY PIER, famous epicenter for single-mingles and family frolic, it was the pier Dad took me and brother Eric and brother Mark in 1961 to meet his Swedish kin, who docked a boat there, a boat that was part of their little fleet of cargo ships.
Either it was a huge boat or I was small and it seemed huge to me. It was about the size of the current Odyssey, the spiffy ship that tools around the lakefront every day giving passengers wowee-views of Chicago’s skyline.
I don’t know if the boat we boarded had a name. I know being welcomed by its captain was my first brush with privilege. We were treated as if we were special, though we hadn’t done anything vaguely special in our lives to date, as far as I recall.
The captain brought us to his cabin. The captain ordered a round of Swedish soda pop from a fellow who looked accustomed to fetching what the captain ordered. We drank the pop, which tasted like sugar water and looked like sugar water.
I didn’t mind leaving soon after because there wasn’t very much to do on the boat. I minded mightily leaving the feeling of privilege behind.