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Grog - the Story
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Family, Nickname, Websites and an App.
British sailors in the 1700s gave the nickname "Grog" or "Old Grog" to Admiral Vernon because his coat was made of a coarse silk called Grogram (a contraction of Grosgrain). When he introduced the practice of diluting the sailors' daily rum ration, his nickname was applied to the drink - and his nickname survives for drinks to this day. Serving under Admiral Vernon was an American, Lawrence Washington. Lawrence was so impressed by Vernon that he later named the plantation home that he built Mount Vernon and when he died it was inherited by his half brother George Washington. You can still visit Mount Vernon today south of Washington, DC., and when you do, remember it was named after a "Grog".
The Family Nickname
For the Grogono family "Grog" has been a frequently used nickname. Today, three brothers (Alan, James, and Andrew) all call each other "Grog" which sounds more confusing than it is in practice.
If Only People Could Spell.
We wouldn't exist - at least not under this name. Sometime in the mid 1880's one Mandeville was born a Grogona - with a final "a". However, Mandeville and his step parents appeared to have attached little importance to accurate spelling and he became Grogono (with a final "o"). He passed this now-unique family name to his child Walter Atkins Grogono, who grew up and adopted the profession of his step father, Dr. Clay, and became a doctor in East London.
Doctors in London's East End.
Walter Atkins Grogono was the start of a long line of Grogono doctors, a tradition which continues to this day. The three generations which followed him all trained at the London Hospital in Whitechapel in East London. Today, there are many of his descendants in medicine.
Creativity and Sailing.
Walter Atkins's third child Eric Walter Grogono, a family doctor and part time anesthesiologist, exemplfied the innovative streak which permeates the family. In the days of steam cars, he visited his patients in a Stanley Steamer. With his more demanding patients he adopted the neat trick of leaving the fuel burning to heat up the steam boiler. This allowed him an apparently relaxed visit until the safety valve blew the whistle, when he took a hasty departure.
He had success in the early days of building and racing outboard hydroplanes, and then adopted sailing as the family sport. Two of his descendants have raced sailboats in the Olympics: his son Keith in the 1936 German Olympics, and his great grandson David in the 1996 USA Olympics. He would be ecstatic that members of the next three generations are still winning sailing races in many different parts of the world.
Sailing and Knots
His oldest son Eric Bernard Grogono ("Grog" or "Groggy" to family and friends), again a family doctor and part-time anesthesiologist, inherited his father's engineering and sailing passions. While serving as a ship's doctor on a British Submarine depot ship in World War II, he managed to build a high performance sailboat and race it in Aden Harbour. He also inherited the beloved family 50' ketch "Sonia", which provided a sailing foundation for the growing family and for generations of medical students at the London Hospital. In addition, his love of racing smaller boats on the River Alde in Suffolk, England, infected his children and grandchildren. And, his love of handling ropes correctly and using the right knot for the right job stimulated interest in his sons.
Anesthesiologist, Sailor, and Webmaster
Bernard's son, Alan (always known as "Grog"), planned a career as an engineer or a comedian but father wisely interceded on the basis that a medical career would allow both. He was right! Grog almost followed father and grandfather into family practice but chose full time anesthesiology. Grog's surgeon brother James was largely responsible for initiating the sport of high speed sailing. James, Grog, brother Andrew, with their father and two friends, created the hydrofoil born Tornado "Icarus", and progressively increased the World Sailing Speed Record in "B" Class between 1977 and 1985. Today, a mean speed of 28.14 knots sounds modest. At the time, for an amateur family team, it seemed very respectable as well as very exciting.
Migration and Websites
Grog, his dentist wife Anthea, and their four young children migrated to the USA in 1974. The family medical tradition was preserved by Sally who became an obstetrician in Austin TX. In 1995, when Grog was running an academic anesthesiology department in Tulane Medical School, he announced to his astonished department that they must have a website. As no one else had any idea what he meant, he created his first departmental website, followed soon after by the family website with a section devoted to tying sailing knots. Countless requests for additional sections on Fishing, Climbing, Scouting provided the stimulus; Grog's total hip and total knee surgery provided the enforced immobility and opportunity: Animated Knots by Grog was the born and rapidly became the most popular knots website.
Disks and Downloads
Recurring requests for a version on a disk came from scout troops, fire departments, search and rescue teams, and people with slow internet connections. To meet this demand we created Grog LLC: son David provided programming expertise; and son Martin provided his graphic design experience. Even before the disk was available we had a lengthy order list. And then, just as we had completed the disk, we started getting requests for a download version. We produced two versions, one for Macs and another for Windows, both of which are popular. The pleasant surprise is that the disks continue to sell well too.
Development of a version for the iPhone started in 2009. The App was finally released in Late June 2010. For some days we sold only a few - partly via our own website and partly because friends and relatives felt we needed support. Then we suddenly hit success: Apple featured us as one of their favorites and for July we were the most profitable and most popular amongst iTunes' paid Reference Apps. Even six months later the App still sold well. The major complaints came from users who felt we should have included a number of other useful knots, and from Android and iPad owners who wanted their own versions.
The original photographs were taken on the kitchen table. When the sun shone the photos were bright; when it rained they were dark. During 2010 and 2011 nearly every animation has been re-photographed using new technology and more consistent conditions. Also, prompted by requests from website visitors, in 2011 and 2012, over fifty new animations have been added to reach a total of nearly a hundred and thirty. The new material was the basis for the updates to the website and for the release of a new version of the App in February 2011 and a new Download version in June 2012.
We are currently working on developing versions for other platforms including the iPad and an improved version for phones based on the Android operating system.
Three Partners' Websites
The three partners in Grog LLC run a number of other websites, some family, some educational, and some business:
Disclaimer: Any activity that involves ropes is potentially hazardous. Lives may be at risk - possibly your own. Considerable attention and effort have been made to ensure that these descriptions are accurate. However, many critical factors cannot be controlled, including: the choice of materials; the age, size, and condition of ropes; and the accuracy with which these descriptions have been followed. No responsibility is accepted for incidents arising from the use of this material.