How A Teenage ‘Shabbos Goy’ Stowed Away On America’s First Antarctic Exploration
Teenagers dream about running away. They always have; they likely always will; often, when they do, the results are decidedly weird. (See: Haight-Ashbury circa the 1960s.)
But there’s packing a knapsack and setting out for the Summer of Love, and then there’s swimming across a major river intending to hitch a ride on a boat to Antarctica. In August of 1928, Billy Gawronski, the son of Polish Catholic immigrants, a Yiddish-speaking former “Shabbos goy” and a library-frequenting fan of adventure tales, did just that.
Read the interview at Forward
One Teenager’s Adventure from Queens to Antarctica in 1928
Laurie Gwen Shapiro talks about her new book The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica. She tells the story of Billy Gawronski, a first generation New York City high schooler in 1928 desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business, who jumped into the Hudson River and stowed away on a ship bound for an expedition to Antarctica.
Hear the interview at WNYC.org
Laurie Gwen Shapiro: An Antarctic Adventure
Laurie Gwen Shapiro is a fiction writer, award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist whose writing has appeared in New York magazine, Slate, the Forward and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. In The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica (just published by Simon & Schuster), her first foray into book-length nonfiction, Shapiro recounts the true story of Billy Gawronski, a scrappy and determined teenager growing up in 1920s New York who sneaks onto a ship bound for the southernmost continent.
Read the full interview at shelf-awareness.com
Hear it! Laurie Gwen Shapiro dives into the Hudson River and sneaks aboard Richard E. Byrd’s flagship with Billy Gawronski, a plucky New York City teen bent on reaching the South Pole.
Listen now on History Author Show
When Teens Just…Snuck onto Antarctic Expeditions
In 1928, 17-year-old Billy Gawronski decided it wasn’t enough to dream about going to Antarctica, so he set out to secretly join an outgoing ship. In an excerpt from Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s forthcoming book about Gawronski’s adventures, The Stowaway, we find Billy at a crucial moment in his plan.
Read the full excerpt at Outside Magazine
My beloved editor Megan Hogan at SimonBooks just sent me a photo of a new “The Stowaway” display in the lobby of Simon & Schuster at Rockefeller Center – 1230 Avenue of the Americas. I’m going up there later this morning to take a photo with her! SO amazed- had zero idea this was going up! — feeling thankful.
How I Found the Boy Who Stowed Away to Antarctica
Finding just the right story for a book was my New Year’s resolution in 2013. I just didn’t know where to look. But I’ve always loved writing about my neighborhood — Manhattan’s historic Lower East Side, where I grew up and still live — and so I was happy to be assigned a small magazine piece on Polish classes at St. Stanislaus, a local Roman Catholic church.
Read the full essay on Powells.com
How a Jersey teen stowaway became an international celebrity
A few minutes past 4 a.m. on Aug. 25, 1928, 17-year-old Billy Gawronski dove into the Hudson River and swam out to board a ship called the City of New York, which was sailing to Antarctica the next day.
Gawronski had no experience at sea or as an adventurer. But he had a desire to live a more exciting life than the one he was born into.
Read the full article by Larry Getlen on New York Post
The Plucky Teenage Stowaway Aboard the First American Expedition to Antarctica
As night dropped on September 15, Billy jumped out of his second-floor window and onto the garden, a fall softened by potatoes and cabbage plants and proudly photographed sunflowers. You would think that the boy had learned from his previous stowaway attempt to bring more food or a change of dry clothes. Not the case.
Read the excerpt from chapter four on Mental Floss
Determined to Hitch a Ride on the Greatest Rig in America
With his back against the sunset, a seventeen-year-old boy lingered on the docks along the Hudson River. By his calculations, it was a ten-minute swim from where he stood to the ship.
The new high school graduate waited, his soft grey eyes fixed on the City of New York, moored and heavily guarded on the Hoboken piers. The sun went down at six forty-five this day—August 24, 1928—but still he fought back his adrenaline. He wanted true darkness before carrying out his plan. At noon the next day, the ship would leave New York Harbor and sail nine thousand miles to the frozen continent of Antarctica, the last frontier on Earth left to explore. He intended to be aboard.
Read the full excerpt on Longreads.com