White Sails Become Me: Memoirs of A Seafaring Heritage
Author: Nicholas Starace II
Legacies get passed down in many different ways. Some in the form of antiques, letters, money or anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor. Close your eyes, listen to the wind blow, feel the breeze and the smell of the salty air: Journey me as we take a journey along with our author as he takes us to the many places around the world. His legacy, his passion for the sea, creating model ships and his maritime career are all part of his heritage and legacy that he is passing down to his family and now his readers. Welcome aboard and enjoy the seafaring journey as author Nicholas Starace II, invites you into his life.
Sharing his life, his memories and his beginnings with the reader and describing his feelings towards his father, grandfather and his upbringing that made him the strong-minded, hardworking, humble man he is today.
The story begins with an incident that would frighten and dissuade many from flying. Terrorism is not new to us. It has been around for more years than we care to think. Planes are hijacked, bombed and towns are fire bombed and cars are blown up all over the world. Every time you go overseas, or even to a shopping mall you take the chance of coming in contact with such horrors. Our author reminds us at the start of his memoir of an incident that would forever change his perspective on life, his marriage and his goals. Pan American Flight 80 was bombed as he sat just a few rows ahead of the man who did it. A man who thought nothing of putting explosives under the seat of a young Japanese child and killing him and injuring so many others. But, with all of the snags on our justice system it took forever to sentence him. Even more frightening is this same man will be released in a little over two years and deported hopefully not going to try and do this again.
Memoirs always start at the beginning so let’s take a journey back in time with our author and see where his life began and learn where it started and how he came to the present.
It all begins in Brooklyn and his life growing up getting to see the Dodgers play, Jackie Robinson and my favorite place to go every Sunday, Coney Island. I never saw Luna Park because that is before my time, but I loved the boardwalk, play miniature golf and watching my sister and mom go on the rides. I love and still love Coney Island as the author describes his memories there I smile and think about mine. He moves on to tell how he became so interested in a maritime career and the many disappointments along the way. Parents often preprogram their children with what they expect of them as a person, respect, honesty and hard work, plus what they want them to be. I should know since my mom chose my career when I was four and I never regretted it.
Being doctor was what his father wanted for our author, but sailing the seas and learning how to man ships, tankers and more was his dream and heart’s desire. Finally entering the right school and going on many journeys, the reader enters the world of travel and learns the many hardships, dangers and exciting experiences he endured until her finally graduated and fulfill his dream. Encouraged at a young age by his grandfather, Nicholas learns how to create and build ships by hand and the power of the sea.
The author recounts many experiences away from home on different ships and his love of England and living in the United Kingdom. Each event described every journey he takes on each ship allows the reader to understand more fully his love of the sea, maritime work and why serving our country in the navy was so vital to who this man became. Yet, some things remain the same and others change as the months apart put some strains on his marriage. Ronnie became the head of the household and took on more responsibilities for running her family than most women would. As the author and his family return from the life in England you can feel the strain on him and his desire to reunite with the sea and his uneasiness with life as it presented itself.
Traveling to the four corners of the world and back many times you can feel the excitement in the author’s voice as he undertakes each new job, every new opportunity and learns the secrets of each foreign country and enjoys engulfs himself and his family in their history and culture. Families need more than luxuries, wealth and important jobs, They need understanding, quality time spent together understanding of each others needs and differences which was definitely lacking in many instances involving the author and his relationship with his wife and his son Nicky. Many tragedies befell this family starting with a slow deterioration of his 34-year marriage to Ronnie when circumstances and instances that could not be rectified ended in their getting a divorce. But, no loss is greater than losing a child. His eldest son Nicky dies at age twenty- six after living with schizophrenia since the age of 14. Understanding the author’s mindset and his life awakening tragedies you need to read for yourself in order to understand how he comes full circle with a true understanding of how precious life is and what is really important. Too many losses follow that of his son and one that befalls him is a true turning point in his life as you experience the sadness, the frustrations of a man battling a deadly illness hoping to win.
From Normandy to the many sites he visited that reminded him of the many wars we fought and the countries that were involved, the people he meets and the tours he takes, the author realizes that life is too precious and he would rethink his priorities and learn to live his life, volunteering, teaching his grandson’s how to make model ships and much more that life’s journey can offer.
Life sends us many messages when we least expect them. From his journeys around the world and return trips Japan, England and many other places that he holds dear the one that stands out for him is his visit to his mother’s home town and visiting her old oak tree and feeling her warmth and presence. Take the trip, visit the places, close your eyes and envision the detailed descriptions of war torn cities, countries and the majesty of the world and read this memoir of one man who definitely fulfilled his dreams in many ways. Seafaring naval officer, miniature ship creator, model, actor, award winner, volunteer and much more which would make his mother proud of what her son accomplished and his father’s words of praise. Read this informative and historically filled memoir and take the trip that I have already traveled along with author Nicholas Starace II Families are precious and life is too short to only focus on your career, your wants and your needs. The one thing I think the author learned and came full circle with is time. You can’t get it back was its gone. Dedicating his life to the maritime industry and proud of his accomplishments after graduating from Kings Point, he learns that there is still so much more to his life that is just as meaningful. Welcome to your beginning as life still holds even more for you: Nicholas Starace II.
This is a great memoir for anyone that enjoys reading about the sea, naval experiences and wants to relive the past and enjoy learning about the present.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer