The following poem was written a decade after my participation as journalist/crew in the OpSail to Liberty '86.
It was inspired by a collage made by then-crew member Tommy Grace.
I tried to capture the people and the spirit which made the journey possible, along with a glimpse into the future.
Little did I know how much of that future would be a total surprise....
Sometimes you get a very unexpected phone call that changes things. I got one towards the end of March from Sam, a friend in NY.
Peter and Jeanette, from the American Schooner Association has been on a really slow (15 year) trip around the world in an old 50' Alden Schooner. They were planning on coming back across the Atlantic when they were delayed by having a transmission rebuilt in Gibralter and then their crew had to leave for personal reasons. They said they needed 2 sailors with bluewater experience to help them sail from the Canary islands to Antigua right away and they mentioned my name as a possibility. The weather window starts to close after April because of hurricane season.
Ernestina's birthday was on February 1st. She was 113. Sometimes a few of us meet for cake, or send cards, or even make something for her. We may have even sung Happy Birthday a few times.
On February 5, 1894, a single line of print in a corner of the Gloucester Daily Times recorded an addition to the Gloucester, Massachusetts fishing fleet: "The new schooner for J.F. Wonson and Co. has been named Effie M. Morrissey." This marked the commonplace birth of a schooner that would become famous not only as a banks fisherman, but also as one of the great expedition vessels of arctic exploration, a venerable transAtlantic immigration packet, a symbol of Cape Verdean-American history and heritage, and as an active educational and cultural resource serving the New England region. However, the white oak and yellow pine hull of the Effie M. Morrissey slid down the ways of the John F. James & Washington Tarr shipyard not as remarkable individual ship, but as a fine example of thousands of similar, Essex-built schooners. It was the heyday of the Gloucester fisherman.
The new govenor of Massachusetts gave an inagural address today and talked about boats. I am copying that part of his speech and also the part he forgot to include, the last paragraph.
"America herself is an improbable journey. People have come to these shores from all over the world, in all manner of boats, and built from a wilderness one of the most remarkable societies in human history. We are most remarkable not just for our material accomplishments or military might, but because of the ideals to which we have dedicated ourselves. We have defined those ideals over time and through struggle as equality, opportunity and fair play – ideals about universal human dignity. For these, at the end of the day, we are the envy to the world.
i finally did the entries correctly and now i am going off island to thanksgiving dinner at my youngest son's home in plymouth
talk to you all later
I am working with a new company in N.Y. harbor. They are tough but there's plenty of work and the money is good . I'm 2 weeks on, 1 off for a while. There are 3 pictures: One is the salt delivery being offloaded to barges that we transport;
Two is the view from Weeks' Greenville Yard in New Jersey where we shift barges;
Three is the (cover) cement blocks as protection for the tunnel going from Manhattan to Long Island in the East River.
They picked me out and took me home when I was 8 weeks old. Most of my 7 brothers and sisters had regular names like Rose and Spencer. They called me Effie M. Morrissey - but only when I was acting up. Usually they just called me Effie. I am a registered Newfoundland.
A few days later, they took me to this big old schooner and I found out a lot more about my name. It was the original name for the boat.
It was fun to sail on, I pulled on some ropes (lines). We went fast and I could look at the birds and watch for fish. Everyone played with me.