"As I have had a role in the production of news and feature pages of The Marine Digest virtually from the time of its inception in 1922, I felt that it would be fitting for me to write a brief history of this publication and its mission in the maritime industry.
It was a busy summer day in the news room of Seattle's evening newspaper. I had met a ship from the Orient and was pounding out the story on my faithful old typewriter. Across a massive table from me was Jackson B. Corbet, Jr., my co-worker in the marine department, using the middle fingers of each hand on a long-suffering Underwood.
There had been ominous huddles of the higher-ups over a telegram the boss had sent from San Francisco, which we later learned concerned the news-space problem. The oldtime marine editors of the City by the Golden Gate had passed out of the picture and a serious reduction in space for marine news had been the result. The two morning newspapers in San Francisco were down to a column each for 'maritime intelligence' as they called their waterfront reports. Why should Seattle's evening newspaper give four columns daily and six columns on Sunday for marine news? The boss, who had studied the San Francisco newspapers' coverage of 'maritime intelligence', gave the answer. 'Cut the space of the marine intelligence. Cut the space of the marine department to two columns,' he said in his telegram.
The edict was a severe blow to our newspaper enthusiasm.
'The waterfront won't stand for it,' Corbet said in his rich North of Ireland brogue. 'I'll start a shipping paper'.
That was the spark that gave origin to The Marine Digest.
Howard J Ryan, a top-flight advertising man, who had affiliations with Seattle steamship companies, joined with Corbet in the organization of the publication. Later, Sidney Beede became vice president and business manager and Mrs. Florence Corbet, secretary. As president, treasurer, and editor, Corbet directed the news columns and editorial policy. I became a contributing editor and handled a column of ship arrivals and cargoes.
Volume 1, No. 1, came from the press 2 September 1922. The port hole on the cover of the magazine contained a picture of the gold ship VICTORIA of the Alaska Steamship Co coming in from Nome. There was a picture and a story of the motorship LIBBY MAINE, which had arrived from the Alaska canneries with a cargo of 50,000 cases of canned salmon. The new Yamashita Co had established headquarters in Suite 306 Central Building with J. J. Gorman as general manager, to handle ships of the Yamashita Kisen Kaisha, the publication stated.
The news columns announced that the East Asiatic Co of Copenhagen, Denmark, had opened offices in Suite 812, L. C. Smith Building, with M. Bildsoe in charge.
There was a two-column picture and bio of H. F. Alexander, who was described as 'the monarch of Pacific shipping.' The bio told how the panic of 1893 wrecked the Alexander family's fortune, and he, a lad of 14, headed for the Tacoma waterfront and obtained a job as longshoreman for Dodwell, Carlill & Co. Alexander, became checker, clerk, wharf agent, and finally took over the old Commercial Dock in Tacoma.
In the first editorial in the first number of the TMD, nearly 30 years ago, Corbet said: The purpose of the publication was 'solely to serve the maritime interests of Seattle and other Pacific Northwest ports now well launched on a new and greater epoch of growth and activity.'
Corbet, known as the 'Sage of the Waterfront' by his many friends in the shipping industry, died 18 May 1944, at his home in Tacoma, age 67 years.
With the death of Corbet, Seattle lost one of its outstanding marine figures and the American Merchant Marine an ardent champion, always vigilant in his efforts to safeguard the future of Puget Sound shipping.
Corbet came to Seattle from the North of Ireland with his family in 1888. He attended the public schools and was graduated from the UW in 1898 with a bachelor of arts degree. After working as a newspaper reporter in Seattle, he went to Dawson, Y. T., in 1902, where he joined the Dawson News. He returned to Seattle in 1909 to accept a position on The Seattle Times. He was marine editor of The Times throughout the WW I period, and made a remarkable record in reporting Seattle's huge shipbuilding activity.
Publication of TMD continued after Corbet's death under the direction of Mrs. Corbet, his widow, who had taken an active interest in the magazine. She was assisted by William Thornily, who held various positions with the Puget Sound Navigation Co. At this time, Thorniley was in charge of the wharf at Colman Dock, and during lulls in truck, automobile, and ferry movements, pounded out stories for TMD seated at a typewriter in the wharf office perched high above the roar of traffic on the dock. I usually climbed to this crow's nest office to deliver my copy to Bill, who was the editor, reporting to the publisher, Mrs. Corbet, who maintained the offices in Suite 101, Canadian National Dock.
Many tides have come and gone on Puget Sound since those days and now The Marine Digest is an authoritative publication, reputed to be the largest weekly trade journal in the Pacific Northwest. Its editor and publisher is Fred W. Geibel, a man I have come to admire as a dynamo of energy and resourcefulness, a worthy successor to Jackson B. Corbet, who took over the magazine in September 1944. Homer Armstrong, a man of high ability in his field, is advertising manager and associate publisher. Tim Dwyer, production manager, came to Seattle in 1949 from Webbwood, Ontario, was associate editor of TMD for five years, and now serves as a special correspondent for this publication.
The magazine is the official publication of the Transportation Club of Seattle, Northwest Marine Industries, Inc., the World Trade Club of Seattle, the Seattle Boat Builders' Association, the Yukon Club, the Japanese Trade Fair, and the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, Inc."
Above text from High Tide, the Big Stories of the Seattle Waterfront; R. H. "Skipper" Calkins, The Marine Digest Publishing Co., Inc., 1952.