On November 10th 1976 the ore ship Edmund Fitzgerald sank in “Gale of November” as described in the pop song The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Last week I mentioned this song to my French pen pal and sent her the youtube video with the lyrics. We trade a lot of songs.
I mentioned that I was often held up late by the ore trains that crossed Proctor bring taconite ore from the Iron Range to the ore docks in West Duluth. Well, some of the coal that held me up might have been on the Fitzgerald the day of the sinking. One of the eighth graders I was teaching geography to told me that good fortune had saved his brother’s life that day. He worked on the boats and was scheduled to be on the Fitzgerald on the day of its last departure. For some reason he didn’t board it that day.
I said I actively worked to forget my two years at Proctor but some things are hard to forget. Maybe I should blame the composer of the dirge, Gordon Lightfoot.
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 . . .