Remembering A Modern Shipwreck

Robinson Crusoe. The Swiss Family Robinson. Moby Dick. The Pilot Ship Columbia. The Etrusco. Not Fade Away. I bet your wondering what these have to do with each other.

50 years ago a plane crashed in an Iowa cornfield killing three popular musicians of the time. Captured in Don McLean\’s American Pie as \”the day the music died\” it remains a cultural milestone.

By the late fifties plane crashes had replaced shipwrecks as the news of the day but I can\’t help but thinking of the impact those long ago shipwrecks must have had in their time. Smaller, tighter, knit communities would be expecting the return of their crews from the sea only to wait at the wharves and piers without the least word. Children would grow up on the stories of the survivors and what luck carried them free and clear and home. Songs would be written and shared as a way of dealing with the loss. Artists would render the struggle of the ships and their masters. When the traffic on the water was as great in scope as it was, thoughts of shipwreck must have been a regular part of daily life.

That shipwrecks are part of our cultural inheritance is seen in those titles with which I began this list. The local impact is seen in the next two items in the list, local shipwrecks that have spurred countless debates and questions. My day began with Buddy Holly\’s Not Fade Away on the radio.

A modern shipwreck.

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