Memories, Great Teachers and The Edmund Fitzgerald

"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…"

--Gordon Lightfoot



It was bitter cold and windy at the shore of Lake Erie when I was thinking about this song...

Interestingly enough, we found ourselves this past weekend out by Lake Erie, and that, combined with a Facebook post I saw about a week ago reminded me of a particular memory.


The post informed it’s readers that November 10th, 2019 marks the 44th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.


Those of you that were listening to music in the '70's will probably recall the song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot that memorialized the tragic event and whose haunting melody and lyrics stayed with listeners of all ages.



Around the time that all of this happened, I was just one of many country kids tucked away in an elementary classroom.


That's my elementary school! Time sure flies!


Our connections with the outside world relied on the methods of the day: newspapers, radio, television, and whatever we were told or overheard from the adults around us. Widespread internet access wouldn’t be around for another twenty years!


Well, anyway, you know how you tell your kids about interesting memories from 'way back when'? Well, at one point my daughter and I were talking about school projects and out of my entire 12 years of school, this is the one activity that stood out above the rest.


I was in elementary school and we switched teachers for Reading class. The entire grade got lucky that year; all of the reading teachers were just fantastic! Great personalities and really into teaching.



2019 - My daughter recreating my favorite school project!

We had cool activities, not just the typical, boring read /answer questions kind of thing.

These ladies were ahead of their time and seriously cutting edge!


Well, the activity that captured the hearts, minds and enthusiasm of me and my fellow students was making illustrations to go along with the lyrics of different pop songs. I can remember doing at least two and they took a while, so these were big projects for us kids!


Here's how it went:

  1. A pop song was chosen (by the teachers, in this case).

  2. The lyrics were figured out.

  3. The kids were each assigned a line of the song and had to draw and color whatever the lyrics described.

  4. After all of the scenes were created, the teachers taped them together and showed them on a pull down movie screen via an overhead projector, while playing the song on a record player!



Well, as young kids, this activity made us feel like creative geniuses!


We learned about music, current events, art and teamwork. Yes, we actually learned a lot of stuff prior to smartphones and personal computers!


Well, because of those reading teachers and that one project, I have never forgotten about the Edmund Fitzgerald.



So, fast-forward and I find myself standing on the shore of another one of the Great Lakes thinking about the crew and captain who lost their lives when the Edmund Fitzgerald sailed its final voyage.


Presque Isle, Lake Erie

It is November 10th as I write this, 44 years after the freighter, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald went down.

Even though there is information and logs recording the communication, no one knows exactly what happened that fateful November night when the ship and its 29 men went down just 17 miles from reaching Whitefish Bay, their destination.


The weather today is as cold and blustery at the water’s edge as you would imagine it would be in November. The wind is whipping, the waves are crashing and it is bitter cold by the water.


I am grateful to those reading teachers so many years ago. There are so many things we are taught in life. Most of which, I’m afraid are either forgotten, ignored, or never learned in the first place.


Connections are so very important for many of us. Maybe that's the real reason my daughter and I started this blog. There are things we've done, said, created, seen and experienced and we want to remember them.


The bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald - restored and on display at The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

Like that classroom activity from years ago, the song by Gordon Lightfoot and the lives that were lost that night 44 years ago when the Edmund Fitzgerald went down, they all deserve to be remembered and honored and kept close to our hearts.


Those memories are part of what make us who we are and connects us to who we love and who we've lost.




Find out More...



1. Visit this website to find out more details about the Edmund Fitzgerald and other shipwrecks: https://www.shipwreckmuseum.com/edmund-fitzgerald/the-fateful-journey/




2. Click here to listen to Gordon Lightfoot's song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."


3. Check out other books about shipwrecks and mysteries surrounding the Great Lakes!


4. Tap into your creative side! Pick a song and come up with your own illustrations to go along with the lyrics!


5. Write some song lyrics! Pick an event in your life that really stands out! Look up the lyrics to other songs you like for inspiration and see what those songwriters did!


Remember,

April









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