New Artifact Life Ring Found

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Timothy Trower

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The Duluth on the back of the ring is puzzling, but I find it somewhat plausible -- flotsam gets tossed around quite a bit on Lake Superior; it really can be an inland ocean!
 
Apr 27, 2005
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It's cruel in that it doesn't allow the surviving family members to get beyond the event itself, that is to say, being informed that the ship is missing in a storm, and the search is ongoing. Yes, it happened 32 years ago, but the event is dragged into the present. In that respect, it's cruel. The song, the museum, the annual memorial services, all place the event in the past; completed, done, and now we get on with the business of living.
 
It's a high-profile event in the history of the Midwest. It's anniversary is written up in newspapers every year and there are documentaries about the event produced every couple of years. The docs are shown on the History Channel and Discovery Channel ad nauseum. How is a fake life ring more cruel than that? Furthermore, aren't we then being cruel to the descendants of the Titanic victims by perpetuating the memory of the event by discussing every nuance of the disaster and every nuance of the ship itself?

On topic with the thread, however...I fail to see how a life ring can have floated around for thirty years (it smacks of the Titanic lifeboat in the Weekly World News) without coming ashore. And if it had come ashore even a couple of years after the sinking, it would be more than a little weathered and mouse-eaten. I think it would be in pretty bad shape sitting out in the elements for two or three decades.
 
Jan 29, 2001
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I believe the families of those lost aboard the Fitzgerald have long ago found their *final closure*. The bell was retrieved (via a JIM suit), all the family survivors rang their toll. Subsequently an indentical replica bell, bearing the names of those lost were incised, and the bell, along with a can of budweiser, honoring one crewmember who loved bud, was returned to the wreck...also via the JIM suit.

Those emotional wounds can never be reopened for the FITZ's families.

Michael Cundiff
NV, USA
 
Feb 7, 2005
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quote:

I believe the families of those lost aboard the Fitzgerald have long ago found their *final closure*.
And
quote:

Those emotional wounds can never be reopened for the FITZ's families.
That assumes an awful lot, I think. Who can say if all the families have put the "emotional wounds" so far into the past that they have "found their *final closure*"? I've never experienced a loss like that, so I would hesitate to speak to how long such a wound can last. I can say that I know of one family of a Fitz crewman that lives in my area that remains very sensitive to anything presented locally about the sinking, and has gone so far as to contact groups over the years expressing their concerns. That would indicate to me that the wounds are still (at least somewhat) fresh.

Denise​
 
Apr 27, 2005
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I doubt it's the real thing. My guess is that somebody wanted such a thing for their home, bar, garage, boathouse, and got tired of it. They tossed it into the lake, thinking it would make a cool find for somebody. It did. But the effect of UV radiation, weather, extreme cold, ice, and more would probably have reduced the real thing to powder in 32 years. It's not impossible, but it's very, very, unlikely.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I'm sorry, Michael...but how is it cruel?<<

See what Richard Glueck said. In my opinion, it's cruel in that there are plenty of crew families still around and even former crew members who knew the people who went out on the Fitz's last voyage. All this would do...potentially...is re-open some old wounds.

>>Those emotional wounds can never be reopened for the FITZ's families. <<

That is extrordinarily presumptuous. You may well be right for some of them, but only the families can speak to that. They know. We don't.
 
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Linda Sherlock

Guest
I am reminded of the documentary I saw about the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which included the expedition to bring up the original ship's bell and replace it with the one bearing the names of the 29 lost mariners. I saw nothing in the pain displayed by the relatives of the dead to suggest the issue will ever be closed for them.

I think this particular documentary is one of the finest I have ever seen. Not only did it recount the sad history of the ship's loss that stormy November night with great skill and sensitivity, it had a riveting first-hand account from Captain 'Bernie' Cooper about how he took the brave decision to take the Arthur M Anderson back out onto the lake to search for the Big Fitz. Best of all, the programme had so much footage of the officers and crew of the Fitzgerald and the ship herself, that it was almost like being aboard her at times. It left an indelible impression on my husband and I.
 
Feb 7, 2005
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The following story about the life ring found in Michigan ran in today's Cleveland Plain Dealer:

http://www.cleveland.com/cuyahoga/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/cuyahoga/118682344954370.xml&coll=2

I have my doubts about the authenticity of this life ring with "Edmund Fitzgerald" stenciled on it. For one thing, the bright orange color of the ring seems too vibrant for something that's been exposed to the elements for 32 years. For another (as others have noted), having "Duluth" printed on the back is also kind of strange. Not because it says Duluth (as opposed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Fitz's home port), but because I don't think I've ever seen anything written on the back of a life ring on any lake boat I've ever been on, or on any life ring I've seen at an antiques/collectibles show.

Denise
 
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Timothy Trower

Guest
'"They brought it here and I was amazed," said Tom Farnquist, executive director of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society in Whitefish Point. "I examined it, compared it to the life preserver we have on display and have no reason to doubt that it is genuine."'

That's an interesting pull quote.
 
Jan 29, 2001
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I am a first-hand witness to the grieving of a families loved one's premature loss. My grieving period lasted 10 yrs ('83-'93). There comes a time in our lives when we come to terms with our loss. It was just my thoughts that the *changing* of bell ceremonies, helped consol, and for many accept, and comfort the grieving period. If you recall Edith Haisman, even in her *senior* age was touched by the presentation of her Father's watch. I don't know that her emotions were wracked.

Then again, we are all of an individual make-up.

Michael Cundiff
NV, USA
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Then again, we are all of an individual make-up.<<

Quite right, we are, and that's what makes it difficult to gauge how individual family members may deal with something like this. I rather suspect that the people contemporary to 1912 were better able to cope. Even among the wealthiest families, there was always the problem of infant mortality to deal with, and for those in the lower socio-economic classes, death from accident and disease was all too common.

For them, "Getting over it and moving on" would make some measure of sense. Life was hard and unforgiving, but it went on. Even then, there were those who never did. Witness Queen Victoria who never stopped wearing widows garb after losing her husband.

I'm also mindful of something David Haisman said in a recent documentary which was in reference to his grandfather who was lost on the Titanic. "Like the other men on that ship, he knew he wasn't going anywhere that night." He wasn't overly emotional or anything like that, but I had a sense of the regret he felt for the grandfather he could never meet or get to know nearly a century after the fact.

The moral to that story is that the scars can and often do run very deep.
 

Paul Lee

Member
Aug 11, 2003
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Actually, Michael, there are doubts about Haisman's watch. Edith said that she remembered
her father's real watch very well as she was with him when he bought it, and it was a very large man's watch. She said "They tell me it belonged to him - but I'd never seen it before. I
remember it well - it was a real man's watch"

The watch seems to be too small to be a man's watch.
 
May 3, 2002
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On bereavenment and grief

Coming to terms is an individual thing and can take a very long time.
A famous example was Queen Victoria after prince Albert died.

On a more personal level closer to home, in '89 a close friend from my high school days took his own life. It is an event that took a long time to deal with. Only when I sought to reclaim those five years at school and the memory of them did I begin to put that night in '89 behind me. He is still often thought of and remembered but I know I'll never see him at a school reunion.

Until you have the experience it can't really be understood only guessed at.

best regards

Martin