Thursday, August 20, 2009
Pirates have never piqued my curiousity, although as a teenager I loved the DuMaurier novel "Frenchman's Creek" about a bored, independently wealthy, headstrong woman who falls in love with a French pirateer. (I will admit to being headstrong, but I think my Dear Professor need not fear abandonment as I am neither bored nor independently wealthy, and we don't see many French pirates in this corner of the Frozen North, although there was that one reality challenged individual who claimed he had found some loot buried near here...)
Anyway, our eldest Sprittle, Boo, was very taken with the whole Blackbeard/pirate thing on our recent vacay on the North Carolina shore. He had us all saying things like "arrrrr matey" and sounding like Robert Newton in "Treasure Island" before the week was over. He was very proud of what he called his pirate glasses.
I have absolutely no idea why I am telling you all this other than it was floating at the top of my mind this morning and I needed to do something with it before I get on with my tale about being shipwrecked. Oh, and I suppose it was also a thinly veiled excuse to post a picture of one of our precious Sprittles. I am a grandmother, remember?
As I was reading the guest book, I found an older entry stuck between the pages. It was obviously well worn, and spoke of earlier times on the North Carolina coast. Times that predated our lovely rental cottage and civilization. Darker times.
The entry began, "April 3, 1973. Still no sign of any boats, just the relentless sea pounding away at the shore and in my head." The writer went on the chronicle the lack of food, the questionable water supply, the declining health of fellow survivors.
"I'm afraid Jebediah might have the consumption. His raspy coughing haunts me in my fitful sleep." Jebediah's death soon followed, and, unfortunately, the hint that his remains may have been gruesomely "recycled" in a way reminiscent of the Donner party. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Strains of "Ashokan's Farewell" played in my head as I read the second and final entry that ended with, "Should anyone find what may be my last words, tell Isabella in the old country that her frilly bonneted face will be the last image I see as my eyes close. Still hopeful."
It was signed, "Levi Strauss."
But this story of deprivation and disaster does have a happy ending. Our dear friend Levi lived to marry his dear Isabella, travel the breadth of this country, invent a commodity that clothed many a gold rush prospector and farmer, and prosper beyond his wildest dreams.
You might ask how I know this. How else can we explain his name ending up emblazoned across generations of blue jeaned posteriors?