No. 1 of Poland's adolescent merchant marine, the motorship Batory last week slipped into New York Harbor, five days before Britain's giant Queen Mary (see p. 17). From Poland's struggling new port of Gdynia on the Baltic to New York, the crack 16,000-ton Batory had made a record run of seven days, 17 hours running time, was met by a prepared demonstration of proud Polish nationalism.
By emptying an urnful of Baltic sea water and dropping a ring of Gdynia amber into New York Harbor, Polish Coadjutor Bishop Dr. Karol Niemira on the Batory "married" the Baltic and the Atlantic, committing technical bigamy in as much as Poles and Rumania's King Carol last year "married" the Baltic and the Black Seas in an identical ceremony. At Hoboken, Polish oldsters presented the Batory with bread (for good luck) and salt (for love). Polish-American moppets romped through traditional Polish rites, brought up spring branches, rye, oats, wheat, fruit and vegetables, danced the mazurka and krakowiak and sang The Green Grove:
Little grove, green in spring,
You set people wondering,
Pretty girls, dress you now,
A red ribbon for each bough.
More sedately Assistant Secretary of Commerce Ernest Gallaudet Draper and Vassar College's President Henry Noble MacCracken made speeches.
Next to the Polish Army, the Polish merchant marine is Poland's great hope. By far Poland's biggest ships are the Batory and her sister ship the Pilsudski (TIME, Sept. 23). Both were built by Italy in Trieste's Monfalcone shipyards in exchange for $6,000,000 worth of Polish coal. The Batory has "tourist-top" rates ($176), space for 760 passengers, last week carried 266 and a crew of 307.
The late Marshal Pilsudski created the Polish merchant marine in 1930 by buying Denmark's Baltic America Line, renaming it the Gdynia-America Line, consolidating all lines under one central management, subsidized if necessary by the Government. One Polish specialty is taking U. S. Jews by ship to Gdynia, by train to the Black Sea port of Constantsa (Rumania), by Polish ship again to Palestine Three old liners, Kosciuszko, Pulaski and Polonia, have been put on the Constantsa-Haifa and South American routes, leaving the North Atlantic to the Pilsudski and Batory.
The bracketing of Pilsudski and Batory is dear to Poles. Wearing much the same kind of walrus mustache as Josef Pilsudski, 16th Century King Istvan Batory, born a Hungarian, was smart enough in his brief, ten-year reign to try to expand Poland to both the Baltic and Black Seas. He smashed the Russian Tsar's armies. conquered Danzig and regained a part of the East Baltic coast, died before he could reach the Black Sea. For a little while then Poland was the No. 1 power between western and eastern Europe.