Great teachers never stop teaching. With age, moreover, they add wisdom to knowledge. Benjamin Labaree, the founder of the Williams-College Mystic Seaport Program, shared his alchemical thoughts on spinning memory into action the last time I visited with him at the Seaport in 2007. At that time, I asked him to check my thirty year old recollection of a mid-October swim in the Gulf Stream behind the Westward, a sailing research vessel, when I was his student. Was it possible, my query continued, that later that night under the glare of deck lights we pulled an enormous tuna (soon to be cooked and served) off the longlines we had set for our shark tagging research? “Yes,” the professor replied to my questions before adding the day’s lesson on what really mattered–memory infused action.
In Mystic again, this time with Elizabeth Jean, we steeped ourselves in the Seaport’s distinct tribute to our nation’s maritime memories and in the process reinvigorated our push north.
The Joseph Conrad, in the foreground, and the whaling vessel, Charles W Morgan, are the Seaport’s largest exhibits. The Seaport recently completed refitting the Morgan for sea. In 1977 a sepia toned poster of the two vessels caught Eric’s eye in snow bound Williamstown, Massachusetts. The poster announced a new interdisciplinary Williams program intertwining maritime history, literature, science and policy at Mystic Seaport. Eric eagerly shipped aboard the new venture.
Eric’s class mate, Susan Stucke Funk, and her husband Jim hosted Elizabeth Jean by providing their mooring ball in the Mystic River. Susan is now the Seaport’s Executive Vice President. Many thanks to the Funks for their welcoming hospitality.
Artists from the Salt Marsh Opera performed on the Seaport Green. We were impressed by the duos acting as they sang a number of love songs. They announced at the end of the performance that they were engaged to be married.
For more on the Williams-Mystic Program and the Morgan see respectively: