The stowaway craze of the 1920s

Originally published at:


Stowaways were a popular device for novels of the age, too

30 years later, stowaway fiction was a lot more bleak:


Yea, but there’s this!:

I have vague memories of it, having been solidly in the target demographic when it came out.


I grew up reading my grandmother’s Billy Whiskers books (the adventures of an early 20th C American goat), and yes, there was so. much. stowing. away. (Also so. much. historical. racism.) It think there was even one called Billy Whiskers Stowaway!


Discussed previously on Boing Boing by @doctorow :


“My friend Laurie Gwen Shapiro has just published a book about one famous stowaway who went all the way to Antarctica…”

Why, what a coincidence, because one of this season’s newest anime is about people who stow away to Antarctica. They’re adorable schoolgirls, like all Japanese people, and episode 1 doesn’t actually spoil the ending, but I don’t think any of them get thrown out the airlock.

It looks a lot like an update of Yama no Susume, but with penguins.


It seems a decade before, as well.


Flagpole sitting and dance marathons were more a part of the 1930s, after the depression hit. And tree-sitting joined the craze…

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Yeah I remember it too. I can’t recall where the boy was supposedly hiding but the LM is a possibility. It’d be a rough ride. And its not even infeasible too, when you remember the number of stupid mistakes NASA have made over the years. They don’t protect themselves against hazards where they don’t see a risk.


I wonder how many of these Stowaway Adventures ended up as missing persons? Kids can be so ignorant of their vulnerability.

“Who are the flapper thrill-seekers who now run away to sea—usurping a prerogative once held solely by the boys?”

and more importantly, did you get her number?


Also an infamous stowaway:


A joke I heard On the Johnny Carson Show:

The first mate discovers a female stowaway on the ship. He asks how she got on board & she says she got a sailor on board to hide her for, ahem, considerations. The mate remarks that the sailor got the better of the deal, since the boat was a ferry.

I’ve seen that, also while being in the target demographic. IIRC I quite liked it.
Also, the kid saves the CM pilot’s life while the other two astronauts are away on the Moon in the LEM.

Edit: @Michael_R_Smith: he hid in a storage compartment of the CM.

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Author born in 1912…I’m wondering if she was influenced in some way by the stowaway craze while she was growing up.

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Makes a good story but I don’t think there’s the space for that. Also the way the Earth atmosphere is bled down to 0.25 bar may have left the air in the CM unbreathable for a while.

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