The one I missed, was the one that resonated most throughout my childhood. The loss of 29 souls. and a good ship and true, the Edmund Fitzgerald.
I grew up listening to Gordon Lightfoot. He was a musician my parents favored, and given the opportunity, I would put on his albums instead of the Muzak that was another staple of my parents' musical habits. So I grew up as a GL fan, though I have never had the good fortune to see him in concert, I did once or twice IIRC, buy concert tickets for my folks to go.
Most folks of my era are probably familiar with the Lightfoot song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I can remember listening to it from a cassette tape, nightly, as I fell asleep. My father had been in the Royal Merchant Navy as a young lad, and I think I inherited an appreciation for big water from him.
This is one of the better youtube videos set to the song by Gordon Lightfoot. Apologies for the ad that leads off the video.
What I don't think I have mentioned before was what happened on our engagement trip to the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. We took our Dagger kayaks, paddling out from the Reservation at Red Cliff, to Stockton Is, and then on to Oak Is. a couple days later.
It was on our paddle back to the Reservation, that it happened. We were using the Red Cliff Bouy as a navigation marker. We could see it in the water, and it made for a convenient aiming point. The bouy was painted red, anchored to the bottom by an unknown length of heavy cable or chain. It grew larger in our sight as we came closer and closer.
The fine details of what happened next are somewhat lost to the passage of time, but what I DO remember is this: I got it into my head to "ring the bouy" by bumping it with the bow of my kayak. The bouy does not have a bell, only a strobe marker on top of a floating steel housing. But it does have a voice... a voice I honestly wish I had never awakened. I rang the bouy alright. It boomed a deep, sort of hollow unhappy sound. You've heard the saying that you can feel it when someone steps on your (future) grave? Yeah, well I knew immediately I had done something very wrong by ringing that bouy. I felt an enormous sense of dread and discomfort, just floating beside it. DH felt it too. We both immediately decided to get the heck out of there! We didn't know who or what we had disturbed out there in the deep water, but we both knew we had made a mistake.
In Bayfield WI, we purchased a book, The Unholy Apostles (Shipwreck Tales of the Apostle Islands), by James M. Keller. In this excellent small book, I found what had happened. Oct. 2, 1939, the Lighthouse Tender boat Marigold, was moored to the Red Cliff Headlands bouy. Three men were there to exchange the acetylene tank that fueled the light. There was a freak accident, a spark or something, and the acetylene tank exploded, destroying the
The lake it is said, never gives up her dead. Nor do they all rest quietly. Native Americans of the Great Lakes region have often used tobacco (N. Rustica, rather than commercial tobacco) in ceremonies to seek forgiveness or communicate with their spirit world. Tobacco use in ceremonies. It would seem that I owe an offering to the dead from the Marigold.
Caption: The USLHT Marigold was responsible for getting offshore lightkeepers safely delivered to the mainland before ice conditions made Lake Superior a frozen wasteland. While the Marigold normally finished up this duty by December 1, an early cold blast in 1919 complicated her mission. Here, she was pictured doing a little ice-breaking on her own as a crewman trekked over the ice to the crew of a lighthouse.