Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 10--a date I'll always remember

I've intended to start writing here again and can't believe it's been over a year. We all know what sometimes happens to good intentions, but I hope to be a good little blogger and update much more frequently. I'll call it my nearing-the-end-of-the-year resolution.

I was inspired to write today because November 10 will always be a date I remember. First, it was my dear mom's birthday, and who among us wants to forget that very special day? She left us last year, and I still miss her so much and wish every day I could hear some of those adages of hers...one of my favorites being, "Don't go outside after you wash your hair. That's why you get sick." But even if I can't hear her say it, in my heart it's always there, especially since I've probably repeated some of those momisms to my own kids over the years. I know heaven's a better place because she's there today.

But another reason this date always resonates with me is because of something that happened hundreds of miles away 35 years ago today. Today is the 35th anniversary of the loss of the freighter the SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior "when the gales of November came early." (Gorden Lightfoot) I can still recall how those gales battered us here in southwest Michigan, which is about as far away as you can get from Lake Superior and still be in the state.

On November 10, 1975, I was a new mother and feeling as nervous and exhausted as any first-time mother may feel. My daughter was only a few weeks old and was having some new baby allergy issues that kept her fussy and unable to sleep. I'd hadn't been able to put her down for very long all day....and then the winds started.

Roaring in from the west and across Lake Michigan, they whipped around our small house, threatening it seemed to carry us all away. I remember just sat holding my baby and wishing the winds would stop.

Then, later that night, we heard it was feared a ship had been lost on Lake Superior far to our north. Eventually we learned it was the SS Edmund Fitzgerald that sank, taking with it 29 men, including a young man from our own area. What a sad and tragic event to happen on a scary November day. A year later, Gordon Lightfoot (one of my favorite singers) recorded his song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," and when I first heard it on the radio, it brought back all the terror of that night and those terrible winds.

Over the years, I've become a collector of sorts of articles and information about that shipwreck and others on the Great Lakes. I have a folder stuffed with newspaper articles I've cut out and saved. Sometime ago we visited the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point in the Upper Peninsula and saw the bell that had been brought up from the ship. I remember as I sat watching a video about a diver's investigation of the wreck, I spoke with a woman who had been there the night the freighter sank. She said it was a horrible thing and everyone who had a boat wanted to venture out into the storm to look for any survivors,but knew they were no match for the lake's fury. I heard the sadness in her voice and could only imagine the horror they must have felt, knowing they were helpless to do anything.

Maybe you have to live near the Great Lakes to fully appreciate how much they affect the people here, as those who live near the ocean are affected, and how anyone who ventures out onto the big lakes always takes a chance at being at their mercy.

So the bell at Whitefish Point will ring 29 times today in memory of those 29 men lost on November 10, 1975 and a 30th times for all the mariners lost on the Great Lakes. I will have a little moment of silence, maybe light a candle and say a prayer that all the mariners traveling the Great Lakes this November 10 may travel safely.

1 comment:

Ami said...

Hi Lucy!

What a great post! I'd forgotten November 10th was the day until I heard it on the news yesterday. That song is one of my favorites.

Also, (((hugs))) for you on your mom.

Glad to see you are blogging again!

Ami W.