If you’re at all nostalgic, the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing probably has something for you. The San Francisco publisher specializes in local history and has mined deep veins of black-and-white photos from one corner of the country to the other for its many books.
The subject of Foss Maritime Company is self-explanatory, but the 200 or so photos in the book provide a broader visual history of life on the waterfront in the Pacific Northwest from the late 1800s to the present.
Given the publisher’s emphasis on archival photography, most of the book focuses on the early days of the company up to post-World War II. A few of the older photos show the company founders, Andrew and Thea Foss, during the company’s early years in the late 1800s.
The book is divided into four parts: Rowboats and Launches, Tugboats, Historical Events, and Into the Future. Each is well stocked with photos of Foss family members and boats carrying their names.
The photos reveal all kinds of interesting stories. Like in 1933, when the Arthur Foss was used as the tug Narcissus in two “Tugboat Annie” movies. In one photo, Tooty Foss is shown standing at the wheel of the Arthur Foss with Ronald Reagan, who starred in the Tugboat Annie sequel.
Another interesting story told in photos and captions involved the salvage of canned salmon from a sunken freighter, the Diamond Knot . The ship was left on the bottom, but Foss sent divers down with suction hoses to recover nearly six million cans of Alaska salmon. Four million were opened, repackaged and sold. A few ended up with a Foss label and were given as gifts. The label read: “DIAMOND KNOT” Salmon – twice caught, twice canned, twice labeled, twice packed – given to you with our best wishes, twice over.”
The Foss family has long since sold the company, but the company’s colorful history remains as an important part of Foss Maritime’s legacy.
The book was written and assembled by Mike Stork, a photographer, former Foss employee and son of Capt. Joe Stork, a Foss skipper during the 1950s. The Foss history is clearly fascinating to him, and his book is both a tribute to Foss as well as an important historical archive.