In 1939, nurse painter Hardie Gramatky was looking for inspiration in New York City. Strolling the waterfront of the East River, no rx he saw a lone tugboat that could not haul it’s cargo. As Gramatky began to sketch, illness he never knew what “Lil’ Toot” would become. His sketches became the foundation of the children’s book “Little Toot”, a story which he also wrote. The book tells the tale of a young tugboat who cannot take his work seriously and instead chooses to play every day. Eventually he is disgraced by the other tugboats and decides to leave the harbor. He eventually finds a shipwrecked liner, and with it, the chance to prove himself to all his tugboat friends. The story was published by GP Putnam Books, the company which would eventually become Penguin Books, as their first children’s title ever. Having earlier in life worked as an illustrator for Walt Disney, his relationship with the studio led to an animated adaptation of the Little Toot tale as a segment of the 1948 animated film Melody Time. When the soundtrack for the film was released, the signature Little Toot song (known by most Lil’ Toot riders as Captain Fred’s ringtone) became a part of the first children’s record to ever sell 1,000,000 copies according to the Billboard Music charts. In recent years, Penguin Books released a new version of Little Toot to celebrate Gramatky’s 100th birthday and also a 1992 film re-incarnation of the Little Toot film was produced. Hopefully Disney will get their act together and produce a film based on Santa Barbara’s favorite boat too? Stranger things have happened!