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In the neighborhood where I grew up there were a lot of people who worked at the port and out at sea. Sea men, sailors, whatnot. In every class in school there were a few kids whose father worked at sea. So even though I had no direct connection to the port, or the ships, it was ever present. We always heard of this ship coming in, or that ship going out.
The neighborhood itself was a couple of hundred meters above sea level, and some streets and parks offered vantage point over looking the Haifa Bay, and the port. So playing outside, walking to the store, or from some apartment windows, if they faced in the right direction, one could always watch the bay.
Cargo ships, passenger ships, navy ships patrolling. Off to one side a smaller nearby fishing port. All part of the essence of the city, just beyond down town Haifa.
So in my neighborhood everyone knew someone who worked out there, and when a ship of the merchant fleet was lost, everyone knew someone who was either on the ship or who had a relative on ship. So while I had no direct connection to the sea, the initial anxiety, and then the loss, was felt throughout the neighborhood and the schools.