My Memories of Pete

Not everyone lives his life by a motto, but my brother, Pete, did.

He once began a story he wrote about one of his adventures with these words,
ウYou might outlast me, but youケll never outlive me.イ  And so it came to

I donケt think anyone could have predicted Peteケs life from his  childhood.
We were both born in Brooklyn, New York.  Pete was born in 1942, making him
only 60 when he died.
Our father, also Peter, died when we were just small children.

Pete was pretty sickly as a boy.  But when he was about 12,  he began to
invent himself as a man.  Perhaps  he was inspired by the fact that  one of
our great-grandfathers  had been a Norwegian sea captain.    Whatever the
reason, he began to toughen himself, to work out with weights and to sleep
on the floor.  He read adventure stories constantly:  stories by Joseph
Conrad and Robert Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling.

My mother had a big influence on him too.  She loved to swim in the ocean
and took us to the beach often in the summer.  Though she didnケt have much
money, she also yearned for adventure.

About that time, my grandparents started renting a little house in
Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, not far from Coney Island.  We spent summers
there, and thatケs where Pete made his first boat--a kind of fiberglass canoe
with a sail.   It was not the  most attractive boat in the bay, but it
stayed afloat.  Soon he was hooked on sailing.

Right after high school, Pete set off on his first adventure:   traveling
around the world.  I remember that he worked  in a mine in Tasmania,  and
did some farm work in Australia.  He got very sick with amoebic dysentery in
India, and was nursed back to health by some kind people he didnケt even
know.    Finally, after about a year, he figured it was time to come home,
but he was in Europe and had no money.  His solution was to stow away on the
Queen Elizabeth!

Sometime after that he set off for Alaska, where he worked on the pipeline.
My mother joined him one summer, and they spent three months living in a
cabin built by Indians on a small island off Ketchikan.   I remember that
they got oil for their lamps from dogfish livers.  That impressed me a great
deal.  I was in school then, studying dogfish anatomy, but I never suspected
that the small sharks actually had a practical use.  I think that
three-month period was one of the happiest in my motherケs life.  She and
Pete shared a very special bond.

Pete was deep-sea fishing off Alaska and Washington state when he was
drafted into the Army and sent to Texas.  Pete hated the military, though he
did learn one useful skill--fixing jeep motors.

One time his sargeant wanted to name him ウSoldier of the Month.イ  It was an
ウhonorイ that Pete absolutely did not want, but the sargeant insisted.  So
Pete went AWOL (absent without official leave) and spent about two months in
San Francisco.   I was a nervous wreck, afraid that he would be arrested and
sent to prison.  Finally, he went back to Texas and turned himself in.  I
think he expected a harsh penalty from the Army, but they needed him to fix
jeep motors too much, so he was never punished.

Pete had many kinds of jobs, but there was always a boat in his life, and he
sailed all over the Pacific.    One  trip took him from California to New
Zealand.  He and a friend were anchored in a small bay, and their radio was
out, so they didnケt learn that a typhoon was coming until it was too late.
The boat broke up in the storm, and they wound up swimming ashore and
camping on a wild beach for two days until a farmer came by and discovered
them.  Pete made great friends with the people in New Zealand.  For years
afterward heケd get mail from them enclosing something from his boat that had
washed up on the beach.

He spent many years living in Hawaii.  At one point he started a small
marine-supply store, but he found that boring.  Later, he worked off and on
for Atlantis,  a  Japanese company that runs submarine rides for tourists.

Atlantis hired him first to sink a steel tanker  so that it would attract
fish and be something for the tourists to see--a kind of artificial reef.
Pete cut  holes in the boat until it sank in 100 feet of water, but no fish

So next , the company hired him to put on his SCUBA gear and spread dried
dog food on the deck of the vessel to attract fish.  A month later, Pete
told us in a letter that ウthe fish were getting so tame,  they would swim up
to my boat before I got the anchor down.  While taking the feed bags down,
Iケd be engulfed in a cloud of hungry fish, a real mob scene.  The spooky
part was when the big moray eels came slithering across the deck to join in
the orgy.イ

I guess it was in 1997 or so that he decided to leave Hawaii and sail to
Asia.  I met him in Pohnpei in 1998, and we went for what was supposed to be
a short trip out to a nearby  atoll.  But his boat (a trimaran) had lost 6
feet of one pontoon in a storm, and the engine didnケt work.  It took us days
of fighting currents to get back.    And when we did get back inside the
reef, the boat came to rest on some coral, and we thought  for sure that it
would sink.   I confess that I was scared, though I tried not to let it
show.   But Iケm not sure Pete ever felt fear.  What gave me fear gave him

Pete was very happy in the Philippines.  He had a special relationship with
Chona and her family and with the whole village.  When he visited my husband
and me last year, he bought many small bracelets to bring back to the
children in the village, where he was now known as ウUncle Pedro.イ    He was
also excited about the new boat he had bought in Japan and the new friends
he had made there--Obata and Alice and Kenji.

I donケt think Pete would have been unhappy with his fate, though his death
seems so premature.   He lived life to the fullest and had a great deal of
fun.  He  made many good friends all over the world, and was much loved by
them and by all his family.    Though he was by nature a quiet and private
person, people could always sense his kindness and goodwill.  He hated
bullies and cruelty of any kind.

Pete was handsome and brave and generous.  Those of us who knew his goodness
will remember him with love always.

Rosemary Amidei
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