Hi Nancy --
Thank you so much for your input and information! I really appreciate it. My mom remembers her grandfather, Karl Hjelte, the Merchant Marine I am researching, as a quiet, reserved man, who rarely spoke about himself -- so, naturally, the later generation (me) has no stories to go on. Just this little Discharge book...
I did find out, since posting the original message, that the records during the time period my great-grandfather was a seaman are lost (some are partially complete). It seems sadly unlikely that I will be able to find his original contract, documents, etc. But I am glad to have the links you provided so I can get more background on what he did.
I know he went to Rio and to Calcutta. I have no idea what the ship picked up...You think I could find out details like that with the ship names (which I do have)? I will give it a shot. I know he was a fireman on at least one voyage (which makes sense, in a way, as he probably barely spoke English but was a strong young man, used to farm labor).
Onward! Thanks again for responding and being so helpful. After he left the Merchant Marines in 1905, he went to America and married his Stockholm sweetheart, and started a family. His days of voyages to places like Calcutta were over, so it would be nice to relive what he may have experienced.
Take care --