wisps of memory

Nina, Pinta or Santa Maria (?) replicas
7.24.92 ~ New London, Connecticut

The other day I was reading my spring/summer issue of Mystic Seaport Magazine, anticipation growing with every article read for the upcoming 38th voyage of the Charles W. Morgan on May 17. The last wooden whaleship in the world, newly restored, will be embarking on a voyage to several historic ports on the New England coast, from New London to Boston. It will be a thrill to photograph her as she sails past us here in Groton on her way from Mystic Seaport to the port of New London!!! She hasn’t been sailed in 90 years and she will have no motor.

As I was contemplating this wonder a couple of fuzzy memories started trying to emerge from my stress-weary brain. My father and me on a wooden walkway surrounding a ship which was being restored (was it the Amistad?) in the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport. A barrel of shavings and chips from the work on the ship. A sign inviting us to take a piece of wood home as a souvenir. I am struggling to remember, what ship, what year, if anyone else was with us…

7.24.92 ~ Papa

My father was a son of Ukrainian immigrants who had been peasants in their native land. Owning their own land here in America was extremely important to my grandparents and my father grew up with that same strong conviction. So much so that he was utterly baffled when Tim & I decided to buy a condo near the sea instead of a home on a piece of property.

Yet he honored the deep ties to the sea my mother and her ancestors had, keeping alive an interest in seafaring history even after she died. This is another facet of my father’s legacy which I’m now coming to appreciate. Not long after my mother died he took me over to the Mystic Seaport membership building and requested that I be allowed on his membership in place of my mother, so I could bring my children there. Since my parents had been life-long members, I think they bent the rules a little and allowed him to do this.

Jon, age 14 ~ 7.24.92

I think it must have been in the 1990s when we each took home a piece of that ship’s wood. He was still getting out and about before his fall in 2000. And it was after my mother died in 1991. Oh why can’t I remember more details?

Larisa, age 11 ~ 7.24.92

A search through a 1992 photo album renews another vague nautical memory. There is my Papa, taking his grandchildren to tour the replicas of Columbus’ ships, the NinaPinta & Santa Maria when they sailed into New London’s harbor on July 24, 1992, honoring the 500th anniversary of the historic voyage. Where is the third grandchild, though? Was he camera-shy or did he have other plans that day?

Well, for what it’s worth, I leave my wisps of memory here for future generations who might find it all of some interest.

Jon and Larisa ~ 7.24.92

14 thoughts on “wisps of memory”

  1. “Wisps of memory.” I know what that’s like. Those moments from the past can be so ephemeral, and hard to grasp. I enjoyed the images and what you remember of your story, Barbara. πŸ™‚

    1. After reading your comment I changed the title of this post, Robin. πŸ™‚ It’s nice to know that you and others have the same experiences with fleeting thoughts and dream-like memories.

  2. Ah ha! says those wisps of memory! I think it is that, than maybe it was this? Well at least you have some visual and a bit of the memories. Which sometimes just need to be jogged a little.

    I think it would be great to see an old whaling ship make it’s course!

    I think all my ancestors where “city” folk… who knows? Not any stories of ships or sea, or farms. Of course my father’s father moved to the shore sometime in his life and lived there fishing and enjoying old age. A very very vague memory!

    1. Having the photo albums from years gone by certainly helps to jog my memory, although sometimes I didn’t write enough information under them at the time. And I have so many unidentified photos from boxes of belongings from various ancestors – so frustrating!

      Jeff, I am keeping my fingers crossed that the weather will cooperate on May 17th and that my latest and greatest camera will get some decent shots of this historic ship at sea!

      Your grandfather must have enjoyed his golden years fishing by the sea. Just the idea of it makes me smile – simple pleasures in nature are the best!

    1. Enjoying the image of memories dancing in the sunlight, dappled with shadow. It makes me think of lying on the beach in the summer, listening to the hum of children splashing in the sparkling waters.

    1. Thank you, Kathy! To think how much I scratched my head trying to come up with a pertinent title for this and then to have Robin zero in on it in her comment… *hugs*

  3. Like you, and the others, I experience wisps of memories, I’m sometimes surprised how many of these warm, fuzzy wisps have come back since my father’s passing last fall.

    1. Warm, fuzzy wisps – oh I love the way you describe them, Sheryl. I know how much you miss your dad. It’s good that the happier memories keep worming their way up to the surface to replace the difficult and more recent ones.

      Whenever one of our pets died and we would gather to bury them in the woods, my father’s advice was always, “Remember the good times.” Little did I know at the time this would be the way I would be able to cope with losing him some day.

  4. Thanks for posting this Mom; what a treat for a dreary afternoon. In the last picture I see my white parasol that you and Dad splurged on one vacation. I still have it somewhere I think… πŸ™‚

    1. You’re welcome, little one! It’s fun to splurge on gifts like the white parasol when you know your child will treasure it and find lots of pleasure in its use. πŸ™‚ *hugs*

    1. Welcome to my little blog, Maryrose! πŸ™‚ And thank you for your kind words. I think you must be right, sprinkled fairy dust would account for the wispy nature of these cherished memories. I will have to plant my fairy garden again this spring, to thank them.

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