ancestryink fisherman

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Whale of a Thank You Note

Sometimes the greatest inspiration comes from the most unexpected places. 

This year was the "whaling year" for the my daughter's students at the small Chilmark elementary school on Martha's Vineyard.  She asked me to help them research whaling captains of Martha's Vineyard.  Yes !! What could be more fun???  I spent a few months in between my own research projects, accumulating and emailing to them lots of wonderful facts and tales of whaling families on the Island.  As I had lived on the Island for so many years, it was easy to jump right into local records.

Map of the Whaling World
They had a great year:  they went to the New Bedford Whaling Museum  (with a side-stop for bowling in Falmouth); they went to Barnstable and boarded a boat and went off-shore for a whale watch. They visited the home of Captain Mitchell West, Chilmark, where just recently exciting artifacts have been uncovered.  All told, they had a whale-full year.

Last week, I got a call to come over to the Island one evening, to visit their end of the year Research Fair. They would be displaying all their knowledge in the form of various whaling projects.  I jumped on the ferry and made it over there in the midst of a crazy rainstorm.  They did a wonderful presentation.  And much to my surprise, I was offered in gratitude a very fascinating, colorful map of the "whaling world" as it was in 1800's. All eleven of the Fifth Graders, and their teachers, had signed it.  The map, which came from the New Bedford Whaling Museum, is called:  "New Bedford: The City That Lit the World." 
- another startling reminder that whale oil was of the utmost importance to this world, for well over 100 years.

There were flowers and other nice gifts, but the whaling map will remain a treasured possession.  I will frame it and hang it in my office. It will always remind me of how important, and exciting, maritime history is to all of us!  But most of all, the thanks from the enthusiastic Fifth Graders will remain my biggest inspiration for continuing to "bring light" to our historic maritime families and their occupations on the high seas. 




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