coal rail road
I always liked the fact that I was born in Superior, Wisconsin. It was where my dad was born, and I suppose that could have been part of its charm, but I really think it just seemed exotic or romantic to me. I know that sounds funny, but there is so much history in the area, with a bit of mystery mixed in. The mystery comes from all the shipwrecks in Lake Superior, in my mind anyway. When I think of Lake Superior, my mind always wanders to the shipwrecks that have occurred there, and the fact that Lake Superior, while beautiful, has a dark and dangerous side for any ship caught out on her in a storm…especially a November gale, and especially an early November gale, such as in 1975. When the Edmond Fitzgerald was caught out there in an early gale on November 10th, she sank with all hands lost because it. I remember my Uncle Bill telling me about that storm, years later, and the fact that he was driving around the lake at the time of the sinking. He told me that it was a horrific storm, and he was not surprised to hear of the loss of a ship.
Of course, the shipwrecks are not the only things I find to be exotic and romantic about the Lake Superior area. The fact that ships come into the Duluth-Superior Harbor from all over the world and that things that are shipped out of that harbor go all over the world, makes it feel more connected to the world somehow. My cousin, Pam’s husband, Mike Wendling, who worked for the railroad for many years, before retiring, told us that the trains would bring in coal from Gillette, Wyoming and Montana. It is strange to think that the coal we see in railroad cars here is headed for an ore boat on Lake Superior…and then places all over the world.
When I look at some of the pictures of me as a baby, I almost feel a bit like I missed out on some parts of my own babyhood. My sister, Cheryl remembers living there, playing with our cousin, Pam and the neighbor kids…including the last name of her favorites, the Lawlers. I don’t remember them. I was too young. With movies and pictures, I have been able to get a picture in my mind of what my life there must have been like. Most of it was likely spent being a third wheel to my sister and cousin, but it doesn’t look like they minded me too much. I was probably too little to be very bratty then. There were also trips to the lake with the family, which I didn’t know about really until my cousin, Pam produced a picture in her baby album during our visit. It was such a great family moment, at the lake when the smelt were running. Smelt are a type of fish who, like the salmon swim against the current to lay their eggs. People went out and gathered lots of them. It was a big deal on the lake.
I probably get most of my memories of Superior, Wisconsin from our many visits back there when we were kids. Even then, I felt like it was a special thing to be born there. Maybe it was just about not being born in Casper, Wyoming. Don’t get me wrong, I love Casper, but when you are born somewhere other than the place you grew up, it just has a different feel. I’m sure most smaller city or small town kids think that their little corner of the world it the most dull and boring place ever. It tends to make any other place take on an exotic feel. Nevertheless, I will always feel like there is something exotic and romantic about being born on the tip of Lake Superior.