Favorite Spot: Tug Jupiter
Neighborhood: The Waterfront at Penns Landing
Address: Market Street at Delaware Avenue (NOT Columbus Blvd…I won’t give that up!)
I am: A piano rebuilder, technician and teacher. I have a shop in Delaware County. I taught Advanced Coastal Navigation among other courses for the US. Coast Guard Auxiliary and hold a 100 Ton Masters License. I was born in South Philadelphia (sout filly) on Mole & Dickenson just across the street from the famous Strolli’s bar in the building that housed the family pastry shop, and have a house on the 3100 block of S. Juniper.
Current Home: South Philly
My Love Note:
Dear Tug Jupiter:
I know, I know…they either don’t know about you, or worse, have forgotten you. How can that be at 101 feet long, 22 feet wide, and a mere 147 gross tons? How did they miss you?
Do you remember the first time Gretchen and I met you? It was a hot day in August in 2000. We were introduced to you by one of her crew. We climbed aboard to meet Captain McKinney who backed you out and handed your wheel over to me; “She’s all yours,” he said, not knowing just how close you and I would become.
While I was behind the wheel, out “tooling” around on the Delaware, my partner Gretchen, a chef, was below falling in love with you on quite another level. As she walked your decks, and inspected your galley, she dreamed of becoming your Steward…little did any of us know!
Meanwhile, back to the wheel house some thirty feet above the water line, I was in tug boat heaven. By the time we pulled back in and had her tied up, Gretchen and I had already, separately, made up our minds. We looked at each other and said, “Are you kidding me?!” And that was that.
Subsequently, I became your crew coordinator and crew trainer (Daddy) and Gretchen your ship’s Steward and Mission Coordinator (Mommy).
The city just doesn’t get you or what you do, or what you’re about, but you, Gretchen, the crew and I are about to change that, aren’t we old girl.
I say “old” affectionately. One of those things people don’t know about is your age. You probably don’t remember, but you were born just north of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at a boat manufacturing company called Neafie & Levy. They made all sorts of boats over the years, but in 1902, they made you, named you after the then Standard Oil Company for which you were built, “Sacony 14,” hull number 961.
The Miley Tug Company bought you sometime later and you worked hard in the Philadelphia/Baltimore area. That’s when you received the big ‘M’ on your stack and your new name ‘Jupiter.’ You pulled materials for the Baltimore tunnel, you stretched submarine detection cables at the mouth of the Delaware Bay to ward off German subs during WW2, and you were the first tug to catch the lines of the Battleship New Jersey when she came out of the Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard, just to name a few accomplishments.
Then you went away, how sad. You wound up in Boston working the area and in the early 1980’s were about to be sold for scrap when your old owner, Mr. Ken Miley worked a deal to get you back. And now you’re back! Lucky Philadelphia!
Owned by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, you are cared for by the loving hands and hearts of your crew, a small but devoted group who keep you running to do what it is you do, now later in your life.
People don’t know all the missions you’ve accomplished: Festivals at Delaware City, the lead boat in the parade at the Baltimore Inner Harbor 300th anniversary — we made the national news that time didn’t we girl. We’ve had people get married on you, memorial services performed on your aft quarters, the lead tug in the parade at the decommissioning ceremony of the Savannah, the only US commercial nuclear powered vessel, the Parade of Lights at Penn’s Landing, and let’s not forget the famous Santa Runs. That’s when you, your crew, and the Seaman’s Church Institute of Philadelphia brought gifts to the crew aboard those monster ships that line the shores of the Delaware River. We made the national news on that one too. We also take out adolescent cancer victims for what may be their last ride. That one is tough on both of us isn’t it girlfriend.
Oh, and let’s not forget the kids! We had Sea Scouts on board for training and students from the Maritime Charter School. Eagle Scouts scraped your rust and painted your decks to get the merit badges and get to Eagle Scout. In Lewes Delaware you had 2000 visitors on your decks without so much as a scraped knee or a bumped head. That’s your crew, trained and qualified. People don’t know that when we’re not doing missions, we train. We do Person in the Water training, TCT (tactical coordination training), guest management, fire training, line handling, deck management, all while you work so hard turning that seven foot prop below the water line, never failing, never quitting, never tiring.
And I swear, coming home from a mission through the C&D canal, after working hard for four days, tired, your crew smiles. You can hear them say, “That was hard work, but boy did we have fun!” I think I’ve seen you smile once or twice myself when you thought I wasn’t looking.
You are a Philadelphia hull, born here, raised here, working here still. You my friend are a true Philadelphian.
So to you old girl I say, “I, no we, love you and promise that as long as we’re allowed to love and care for you, you will never be without friends.”
Like Peter and Tinkerbell — the kids know who you are — now let’s tell the adults!
I love you Jupiter,