National Geographic : 1970 Jun
item charged to him: "$15-for catching him." "You mean they charged him for the honor of being shanghaied?" "Sure," he said. "There were people who caught sailors for a fee. The whaling captain passed the cost along-to the poor seaman." Evidently the unfortunate Mr. VanBuren never resigned himself to his fate. Among such items as "Jack knife-$.50; pair of shoes - $1.50; shirt and trousers-$3" was the sorry note, "To prison fee-$1.25." "I wonder how much they charged a man to hang him," I mused. But for Mr. VanBuren, the need never arose. The last entry in the accounts, in 1840, was one word-"Deserted." Mansion Ballroom Open to the Stars Across the street from the Freemans sits a pair of stately white-pillared houses that were also built by a whaling tycoon, the hus band of one of Joseph Starbuck's daughters. Number 96 Main Street is a Nantucket His torical Association exhibit, open to the pub lic. Number 94 belongs to Mr. and Mrs. John A. Lodge of Washington, D. C. It was built in 1845, in faithful Greek-revival style. An elegant staircase curves up from the foyer and is capped by an elaborate domed ceiling. Mrs. Lodge showed us to the main room upstairs, a large domed salon. "A round opening in the center of the ceil ing slides away," she said. "A similar panel in the roof slides, too, so the dancers could have the stars above them. "This room is famous for its beautiful plas ter work, done by craftsmen brought all the way from Italy, and for its unusual 'sprung floor.' The floor really does have a slight bounce to it, though you can't feel it now because of the weight of the furniture. Long, gently curved pieces of wood resembling barrel staves separate the downstairs ceiling from the upstairs floor. "Remember the dances they did in those days-polkas and gavottes? You had to have some give in the floor, or a whole party might come crashing through the ceiling into the living room below." As we went down the stairs, I ran my hand along the polished bannister. At the bottom I felt a small ivory bump. "That's called a mortgage button," Mrs. Lodge explained. "People on Nantucket used to plant an ivory button in the bottom post of their stairs when they had finished paying for the house. When we looked at the original bill for building this house, the last item on the 834 Sailor in skirts, Mildred Jewett won hono rary Coast Guard membership for patrol ling Nantucket beaches during World War II. She lives in Madaket, and islanders affec tionately call her Madaket Millie. "Eight bells and all's well." A sun dial's shadow marks the hour as 8 a.m . in Siascon set, a fishing village that became a favorite retreat of Broadway stars in the early 1900's.