Skip to comments.In the Edmund Fitzgerald's wake
Posted on 11/09/2005 8:58:59 PM PST by wallcrawlr
Thirty years after the wreck, a crew member's son comes to terms with his loss.
ASHLAND, WIS. - Having lived all of his life on the shores of Lake Superior, Bruce Kalmon knows how cruel November can be.
< snip >
Kalmon says he can only hope he's alone when "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is played on the radio, as it frequently is around the Great Lakes this time of year. He likes the Gordon Lightfoot ballad, but it can get to him, especially "that line about the old cook."
His father, Allen Kalmon, was second cook on the Fitzgerald when the freighter sank with all 29 of its crewmen 30 years ago today. Allen Kalmon was 43. His son was 11 and at home in Washburn, Wis., with his mother and four sisters that night.
He and a sister were waiting for Johnny Carson's monologue when the Duluth TV station they were watching broadcast a bulletin with the unbelievable news that their father's vessel was missing.
"My first thought was, 'How could that huge boat be missing?' " Kalmon, now 41, said last week at his home in Ashland, on the lake's south shore. "I told myself that at least dad is a good swimmer."
He prayed in bed while his mother stayed up making urgent phone calls. In the morning, she came to his bedside and gently asked if he knew what the missing-ship report meant.
"It means that dad's dead," he remembers replying.
(Excerpt) Read more at startribune.com ...
Moving story. Thanks for posting it.
weren't you just looking for this ? :)
The Edmund Fitzgerald went down a month after we were married. I dind't know anything about it. When I heard the song, I first thought it was one of those old shipwreck stories that Canadian singers like so well. I was amazed when I learned years later that it was written about a ship that had sunk so recently.
"The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down...."
Remembering from Texas.
Does anyone know
where the love of God goes
when the waves
turn the minutes to hours?
Prayers for all!
So many will observe this day with thoughts and prayers for the Fitzgerald crew, their families and loved ones. That their loss not be in vain, let us recognize the power of God and Nature over the folly of Man.
- bump -
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
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty.
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the "Gales of November" came early.
The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
With a crew and good captain well seasoned
Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ship's bell rang
Could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'?
The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too,
T'was the witch of November come stealin'.
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the Gales of November came slashin'.
When afternoon came it was freezin' rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind.
When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin'.
"Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya."
At Seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in', he said
"Fellas, it's been good t'know ya"
The captain wired in he had water comin' in
And the good ship and crew was in peril.
And later that night when 'is lights went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Does any one know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searches all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they'd put fifteen more miles behind her.
They might have split up or they might have capsized;
May have broke deep and took water.
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.
Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the rooms of her ice-water mansion.
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams;
The islands and bays are for sportsmen.
And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her,
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the Gales of November remembered.
In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,
In the "Maritime Sailors' Cathedral."
The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call "Gitche Gumee".
"Superior", they said, "never gives up her dead
When the 'Gales of November' come early!"
I'll be making a wreck of the Patrick Fitzgerald soon enough...
I remember when the Edmund Fitzgerald was lost. And it was not long after that event that Lightfoot wrote and released that song.
The lyric you cite is the focal part of the song that haunts me to this day.
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