How a teenage stowaway made it to Antarctica 90 years ago
Crew members of the Byrd expedition descending the Ross Ice Barrier in Antarctica.” data-portal-copyright=”Photo: National Archives and Records Administration” data-has-syndication-rights=”1″ data-focal-region=”x1:1148,y1:670,×2:1584,y2:1106″ src=”https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/SqdRXqDFrzKPG2yhEcxwJZfYRkU=/35×0:2698×1775/1310×873/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/58889681/21_Henry_Harrison_descending_Ross_Ice_Barrier_cred_National_Archives_and_Records_Administration.0.jpg”>
On August 24th, 1928, a 17-year-old high school kid jumped into the Hudson River and snuck inside a ship that was soon headed to Antarctica. Billy Gawronski, the son of Polish immigrants, wanted nothing more than to go to the ice continent with his hero, explorer Richard Byrd. But he was caught — and sent back home.
So Gawronski tried again, and again: the third time he stowed away on one of Byrd’s ships, all part of the same fleet heading to the South Pole in 1928, he was again found. But this time, Byrd offered him a job as a mess boy, and Gawronski’s dream became true. The stowaway — one of the many in the Roaring ‘20s — was going to Antarctica. (Byrd’s expedition even had a stowaway cat named Eleanor.)