I am still thinking about The Highwaymen concert a few nights ago. Shipwrecks seem to be a popular topic for folk songs. In the hour and half concert The Highwaymen sang about two, the Reuben James, the first ship to be sunk in World War II, and the Stan Roger’s song, The Mary Ellen Carter. I have not been able to determine if Mary Ellen Carter was a real ship but the song certainly is real.
There were many shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, the most well known being the one in the song sung by Gordon Lightfoot, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Who, upon hearing either the name of the ship or the singer, does not start to sing the haunting opening lines to that song?
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
of the big lake they called "Gitche Gumee".
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
when the skies of November turn gloomy.
A few years ago, I took a writing class from Michael Schumacher. No, not the racecar driver- the Kenosha author of the book “The Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald”. It is a detailed description of the November 1975 shipwreck on Lake Superior. Mike has another book now, also about a Great Lakes shipwreck, called “The Wreck of the Carter D: The True Story of Loss, Survival and Rescue at Sea” I have not read this yet, but it tells the story of the 1958 wreckage of the Carl D. Bradley that sank in 1958 in northern Lake Michigan.
As for me, I am in another writing class – this one on what is called The Art of Creative Non-fiction. The instructor spent the first two hours trying to get across the concept of what that means. Basically, it means writing non-fiction using techniques more common in fiction such as description, detail, drama, and dialogue. Some of the folks in the class had a problem understanding what that meant. Perhaps I should have referred them to Mike’s book. It has all the elements needed to create a great read.
There are several books about Great Lakes shipwrecks as well as maps for divers who want to explore them. There are several websites, too – all you have to do is google Great Lakes shipwrecks, and you’ll find them. I know my son-in-law Dan would enjoy diving around some of those sites, but that may have to wait until he finishes the MBA program he just began. Still, if he wants he can check out the sites and E-dive. I know it’s not the same, but it may have to do for now. Or maybe we can make the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Point in the UP a destination for a family trip. My son and his S.O. could come, too. She is a Yupper and still has close family there.
The more I think of it, a road trip sounds like a good idea. Sounds like a song, too. Maybe Gypsy Rover?