Woody, Cisco, and Me

WOODY, CISCO AND ME: SEAMEN THREE IN THE MERCHANT MARINE is, on one level, a memoir of three men who served in the merchant marine during World War II. A recollection of a time and a type of wartime service that is seldom the subject of motion pictures or literary treatments. It is a tale which is particularly compelling in that one of the three was the legendary Woody Guthrie and his equally famous companion Cisco Houston.

Yet, in a larger sense this work accurately reflects a period in American history when laboring men and women called one another brother and sister and meant it. Within a decade those self-same terms were institutionalized and the moment was gone. Yet for a brief moment, just before and during the war, most Americans genuinely believed that it was possible to live in peace and harmony whilst achieving economic and political equality for all regardless of race, creed, or color (gender was not yet on the horizon).

It is unlikely if, more than a half-century later, Jim Longhi can remember, no matter how traumatic the experience, the detailed discourses he presents in this work. Nevertheless, if the exact words were not spoken he accurately reflects what was undoubtedly said. If this is not history as it happened but as it should have been, the difference is immaterial. Jim Longhi was a left-wing radical in a time and place when such persons were not an insignificant and despised minority of the population. For that reason, if for no other, it is to be hoped this narrative will find an audience among those unfamiliar with that phase in our shared national experience.