Christoph Jardin's Secret Life

My great-grandfather Johann Christoph Jardin was a whaler. Born in Germany, he was a cooper by training, making barrels aboard ship to hold the whale oil gathered by men who spent months, even years, roaming the seas. He sailed out of New Bedford, Mass., in the late 1840s. When his ship was wrecked in the Arctic a decade later, those who made it to shore survived the cold by stomping back and forth across the frozen tundra. My father remembers Christoph (as he called himself) telling him how his hair turned white overnight. Eventually they were rescued and taken to Hawaii,...

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