This should be a ps at the end of the Tougias review but somehow it doesn’t seen appropriate to put it there. What I am about to say has nothing to do with the review but is essential to the enjoyment of the book. LISTEN TO THE AUDIO BOOK! Seriously. I wrote my review before listening to the acknowledgments and thank yous and the I-couldn’t-have-written-this-book-without-you spiel. I should have waited until all that was over. Here’s what I would have included:
Listen to the very end of Ten Hours Until Dawn. What you will hear will chill your heart and break your soul. Listening to the actual radio calls between Coast Guard stations Glouster, Salem and Peabody and Frank Quirk, Captain of the “Can Do” is breathtaking. You spend so much time hearing an actor portray these people and you spend so much time with Tougias’s words that when the real exchange is finally heard it’s like a punch to the gut. On a personal note, I felt actual anger listening to the captain of the Global Hope fumble for the correct terminology to describe his situation. I felt sheer helplessness listening to Charlie Bucko make the mayday call from the “Can Do”. Listening to these people blew my mind. Maybe I am so moved because my father was a tried and true Coastie. To be sure I have been thinking of him as I heard Frank Quirk’s brave voice on the radio. Next month marks the 20th anniversary of my father’s passing; a man who died while trying to save the life of another.
But, back to Ten Hours Until Dawn. I have to admit this is one of those rare times when I want to read the book even after hearing the audio version. This is a story that truly resonated with me.
Latham, Jean Lee. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1955.
Read this in a day. May is National History month and while that alone was a good excuse to read Carry On I also chose to read it because of Kon-Tiki. Seemed like the perfect transition.
This was reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s account about growing up in the unorganized territories of the midwest in the Little House series; better known as historical fiction. I call it biographical with a little imagination thrown in. It covers the life of Nathanial Bowditch, navigator extraordinaire. While the details of his childhood and subsequent personal adult years are somewhat abbreviated for adults, the content is perfect for children. I appreciated the way Latham didn’t minimized or sugarcoat the tragedy in Bowditch’s life. Nor did she gloss over his relationships with his first wife Elizabeth, or Polly, his second. What does come across is Bowditch’s love of mathematics and the seriousness with which he applies it to navigating the high seas. He does not suffer fools easily but his passion for teaching is enthusiastic and patient.
Favorite lines: “Sometimes women get a little upset about the sea” (p 71). Well, can you blame them? Husbands were gone for months and even years. Sometimes they didn’t come home at all. Another line I liked “You know, you’re real humanlike – in spite of your brains” (p 86). Funny.
Book Trivia: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch won Latham a Newbery Medal.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Historical Fiction for Kids of All Ages” (p 114).
Sometimes, and it doesn’t matter how old you are, you feel like a kid at the adults’ table. At least, that’s what it felt like to me when Kisa and I finally escaped to explore San Diego by ourselves. We were leaving that afternoon to visit La Jolla, Ontario & Upland but wanted to get in a little time in SD before we said goodbye. As the song goes, who knows when we would pass this way again?
My aunt and uncle had raved about the harbor tour they had taken the day before (“best thing we ever did” they vowed) and suddenly it was all I wanted to do, too. I had boat envy. I wanted to be on the water in the worst way. So, we picked a tour and went. We opted for the deluxe version – two hours, both sides of the harbor. It turned out to be a sparkling fantabulous day – like the day before and the day before and the day before. Thanks to Tom, we reached the marina in plenty of time to park, buy tickets, use the restrooms and find front row seats in the bow. It felt like running away.
For two hours we toured San Diego’s harbor, north and south. At times I could barely hear the guide over the wind in my hair and fellow passengers around me. I didn’t mind missing out on the spiel. To me, it started to drone anyway. Instead I enjoyed the military ships, the brown pelicans, hefty sea lions, fellow boaters speeding by, splashing green water, white foam spray and dazzling sunshine.
My uncle described the Queen Mary as “the rusting mistake in the harbor.” He went on to say that he didn’t even think it was floating anymore, that it has somehow rooted itself to the bottom of the bay and was just sitting there, waiting to crumble into the persistent tide. I could only nod and somewhat agree with him, thinking back on the holes, rust, wear and tear I saw while touring the once majestic ship. It all seemed so sad.
Even while we explored the ship, Kisa’s aunt explained the great ballrooms were for rent, but the prices were so extravagent no one could afford them. As a result, the ballrooms remained majestic and silent. Decidedly grand, but moreso empty. Faded and forgotten. As I stood in the middle of one such cavernous room I tried to picture the parties at sea. Diners headed from England for who knows where. My grandmother traveled in such style. I can remember a picture of her, decked out in her finest Dine with the Captain wear. I could almost hear the melody of silverware, wine being poured, waiters moving in between tables with steaming plates. Ghosts from a finer era. We don’t sail like that these days.
Later, out on deck I spotted a hole in a lifeboat. The rust of time had bore a hole in the hull and a patch of bright blue sky peeked through. I imagined the boat upon the high seas, the sky to disappear, replaced by dark, dangerous, rushing green water. Filling the boat and sinking the load. The cold of the ocean closing in over the cooling and soon chilled skin unprepared to drown.
Elevators with confusing floor numbers. Rooms for rent. A nonfloating, floating hotel. Buffet breakfasts to bring back the grandeur. Brass half shined. They still blow the horn three times a day. A signal to those all around. The Queen Mary is grounded. Going nowhere. But come aboard for eggs.
Sometimes I think I walk through parts of my life with my eyes closed. I really didn’t consider all that the Carpenter’s Boat Shop does until the loss of Ruth. I guess it’s fair to say I take for granted that which has been in my life forever. Forever and a day. A constant presence is never questioned. Such is the case with the Carpenter’s Boat Shop in Pemaquid, Maine. I’ve known “the Boat Shop” every minute of my existence whether I was aware of it or not. Skiffs on the beach came from there. People from the island went there. An exchange as subtle as clouds in the sky. Taken as truth and never thought more about.
Imagine a life on the rocks, for whatever reason. Hopes dashed. Dreams in ruins. Desperate for a break. Hungry for a fresh start. Not knowing where to turn. The Carpenter’s Boat shop is that safe haven. No. Harbor. They use the metaphor of a harbor on their website. That’s a better way to describe what they do. The Boat Shop is a place where someone can go for guidance, security and redemption on many, many levels. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Especially the spiritual. In the process of healing, they teach a trade: woodworking. Boats, furniture. Repair on all levels.