November 8, 1941: Where were you?

Perhaps you were you on the banks of the Mystic River in Noank; or downtown Mystic at the drawbridge; or better yet in a small craft in the Mystic River witnessing the arrival of the Charles W. Morgan on November 8, 1941. I cannot claim to have been in any of those places, but if I had had the opportunity to see the Morgan silently (with the help of a coast Guard cutter) make her way north to Mystic Seaport, I’m sure I would clearly remember the moment with certain clarity and reverence.

It was, on November 8, 1941, a new day dawning for the Charles W. Morgan, a turning point for Mystic Seaport, and the beginning of what would become a new post war economic boom for Mystic, CT. This November 8, 2011, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Morgan’s arrival in Mystic…a chance to celebrate these 70 local years and to celebrate her envisioned future in Mystic and beyond.

But to do that we need help. We seek to locate as many “witnesses” of her arrival in Mystic as possible to help us with the celebration on the weekend of November 4-6, 2011, which has the makings of an significant local event. We seek to bring to life the memories which are undoubtedly imbedded in the minds and hearts of so many. Over the past two months, casual conversations with a few locals, asking the question “where were you on November 8, 1941?” has already revealed a few “witnesses,” and we have also located a man in Maine whom we believe is the last surviving crew member to have “sailed” on the Morgan when he (a Noanker) joined her in New London for the final leg to Mystic Seaport. What great stories he has shared with us, and he will be on hand for the November celebrations.

Finding these “witnesses” will add an important richness and authenticity to the events being planned for that weekend. Their stories of that day need to be included in our archives as testimony to her arrival and to the feeling that day in the maritime village of Mystic, CT, that something important, yet unknown, was happening before their very eyes. Why was this vessel coming to Mystic? What would be her purpose? How could the young Marine Historical Association (a.k.a. Mystic Seaport) care for such a large vessel in need of repair? Seventy years later we can answer these questions, as new questions arise before us.

Please help us in finding as many “witnesses” as possible. Get the word out! Surely there must be many a Mystic, Stonington, Groton, or Noank native, 75+ years old, who can remember that day and may even possess pictures or diaries that would provide additional context to the memory. Let it be known that there will be a great party, November 5, to celebrate the Morgan’s arrival on November 8, 1941, and that we need many “witnesses” on hand to assist us.

This summer, also join us on July 21, when we celebrate the Morgan’s 170th birthday. It is a year of milestones…please be sure not to miss them. Mark your calendars now, find a “witness,” and visit the restoration this summer, as we begin to prepare for the replacement of the stem and other exterior work.