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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Presentation: The 7 Wonders and the Mystic Seafarer's Trail

Need a presenter for  your group? I am available to speak on the "7 Wonders and the Mystic Seafarer's Trail."

Finding adventure in Mystic, Connecticut, named top "100 Adventure Town" by National Geographic.
Key talking points:
My search for adventure and "The 7 Wonders of Mystic" (a project I proposed to the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce." Will discuss the little-known facts behind the "7 Wonders":


Wonder #1: Whaleship, Charles W. Morgan & How to Boat “Mystic Style”

Wonder #2: Mystic Aquarium’s “Crowns” (Home of Titanic exhibit) & Shipwrecks and Shoes

Wonder #3: The Hanging Gardens of Enders Island & How to Make Friends in Mystic

Wonder #4: Mystic River Drawbridge & Under the Drawbridge People

Wonder #5: Elm Grove Cemetery Arch & Captain Sisson’s Gold

Wonder #6:  Mystic Pizza Restaurant Sign & How to Get in a Movie

Wonder #7: Mystic Train Depot & Hurricane of 1938
Will also discuss:
Secrets behind Amelia Earhart's Wedding
"Lost at Sea" and Mystic cemeteries
Shipwrecks off Watch Hill
Creeping sights and sounds--ghosts?
I finally had a chance at an epic adventure when a blind sailor invited me on a long winter voyage.  
Stories will include:
Excerpt from Chapter 1: Wanted: Epic Adventure
Shortly after stepping out of my new home with my hound for our first stroll through the historic seacoast village of Mystic, Connecticut, a woman pulled over in her van and yelled, "Excuse me."

Assuming she was a tourist wanting directions to Mystic Pizza or some other attraction, I wasn't prepared for what she really wanted to know: "Do you realize the back of your skirt is tucked into your underwear?"

What a debut in my new hometown—I don’t think this is what National Geographic meant when they named Mystic one of the top 100 adventure towns in the United States.

Once recovered from my wardrobe “malfunction,” I continued toward downtown Mystic with Bailey, a beagle/basset hound mix, to embark on a new life and shake off my old, sedentary landlubbing ways.

About Lisa Saunders:
Lisa Saunders is an award-winning writer and TV host living in Mystic, Connecticut, with her husband and hound. She works as a part-time history interpreter at Mystic Seaport, is an instructor at New London Adult & Continuing Education, and writes publicity material as an independent consultant. A graduate of Cornell University, she is the author of several books and winner of the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations Gold Medallion. As the parent representative of the Congenital CMV Foundation and member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, she has spoken on a variety of topics at venues including Cornell University, West Point Museum, The Washington Independent Writers Association, USA 9 News, Fox CT, and to international audiences at conferences co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lisa holds writing/publishing workshops for children and adults.
Visit Lisa at www.authorlisasaunders.com or write to her at: saundersbooks@aol.com
Next event:
Lisa Saunders will coordinate and present at:

Mystic Writer's Colony Open Mic
Thursday, June 19, 6-8pm
Bank Square Books, second floor
53 W Main St, Mystic, Conn.
Fee:  $5 for presenters, $2 for audience (includes light refreshments)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Whaleship's 38th Voyage Kick-off


After a five-year restoration, the Charles W. Morgan will depart Mystic Seaport to begin her 38th Voyage on Saturday, May 17 at 9:15 a.m.  The ship will travel to New London, the first stop on what will be a nearly three-month journey to historic ports in New England.  Please find below the scheduled timeline for the departure of the Charles W. Morgan on May 17:

 ·         8:15 a.m. Gates open to visitors

·         8:45 a.m. Farewell Ceremony in the Shipyard  

·         9:15 a.m. The Morgan casts off the dock (timed with the 9:40 a.m. Highway Bridge, 10:04 a.m. Train bridge, and high tide)

·         The Morgan will be escorted by tug for the complete trip

·         The Morgan will also be accompanied by multiple support and other vessels (some down river only, others all the way to New London):

o   The Stonington Fireboat

o   The Charles W. Morgan and tug

o   Whaleboats rowing

o   Steamboat Sabino

o   Launch Necessity

o   Fishing vessel Roann

o   Other privately owned vessels

·         The Morgan is expected to arrive at the New London City Pier between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Please note: Timing of the ship’s departure is subject to change due to inclement weather or other unexpected situations. If the Charles W. Morgan cannot depart at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, the departure will be postponed to Sunday, May 18 with the farewell ceremony beginning at 9:30 a.m. and the Morgan casting off at 10 a.m. Please check the Museum’s website for updates on departure plans and other news about the 38th Voyage.
In the news:

·         For the first time in 93 years, a 19th-century whaling ship sets sail” – Smithsonianmagazine.com
·         The last, luckiest ship”  - Martha’s Vineyard Magazine
·         Mystic Seaport’s shipyard director on a whaler’s restoration” – Boston Globe Magazine
·         The 38th Voyage: Morgan Readies to Sail Again” - The Day
·         Whaling ship Charles W. Morgan sailing from Mystic on historic voyage” – Connecticut Magazine
·         Charles W. Morgan to set sail this weekend – WFSB Channel 3
·         Historic whaling ship to set sail this weekend – WTNH Channel 8
·         The 38th Voyage in Yankee Magazine’s 2014 Maritime Festivals and Events

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Recipe: Jennie Lind Bread--Details Hidden in the Grave

The following recipe was called "Jennie Lind Bread" by Julia Gates* (buried in Lower Mystic Cemetery). She was the sea captain's wife I featured in my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail. In my last newsletter, I highlighted her incomplete Plum Pudding Recipe. Readers wrote in how to complete it (see previous post).

Anyone care to complete the following using standard measurements (rather than "lump of butter  size of an egg")?  This is what is recorded in Julia's hand-written recipe (Jenny Lind was a famous Swedish opera singer, known as the "Swedish Nightingale," in Julia's time. From Sept. 1850-May 852, Jenny Lind traveled throughout America giving concerts arranged by P.T. Barnum):

Jennie Lind Bread

(Recipe from  1990.005.0084  Haley Collection, Mystic River Historical Society, transcription by Beverley A. Gregg, Mystic Seaport Museum.) I corrected most spellings and punctuation:

1 quart flour (what is this in cups?)
1 cup sugar
2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 lump butter the size of an egg (how much is that cups or tablespoons?)
4 teaspoons cream tartar
2 soda (2 teaspoons of baking soda perhaps?)
Mix flour, butter, sugar & cream tartar together, & soda and milk.
Then what do you do?

Cindy Modzelewski just sent in this link that hints at the answers: https://www.google.com/search?q=jennie+lind+bread&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari
She believes an egg-size measure is approximately 1/3 cup. If anyone tries to make this, please let me know how it turned out and what your exact measurements were.

* According to the Mystic River Historical Society: "Julia Fish Gates was born in Mystic River, Connecticut, May 16, 1831, and lived there most of her life. She married George Washington Gates in November of 1853, after he had taken command of a Mallory vessel. Following her marriage, Julia accompanied her husband aboard vessels in the Galveston area and on at least one voyage to Liverpool, England, between January and April of 1857. The fist of their five children was born in April of 1858, and at this time they owned a home on High Street in Mystic River where the family lived while George continued his career at sea with the Mallory firm until 1877. The recipe book was begun by Julia during this period. Julia died in September of 1884."


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Secret to Plum Pudding Recipe in Grave

I became interested in Julia Gates (buried in Lower Mystic Cemetery) when the Mystic River Historical Society showed me her mournful Christmas letter to her husband. Fearing he was lost at sea, she didn't feel like preparing for Christmas, but knew she had to for the sake of her children. Here is an excerpt of her sad letter from my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail, followed by Julia's incomplete recipe for plum pudding.

In December of 1871, while the residents of Mystic were preparing for Christmas, Julia Gates was sick with worry about the fate of her husband, Captain George Gates. He had left New York for San Francisco on August 18th on the Mystic built ship, Twilight. It had been five months since Julia heard from him.  She had every right to worry in those perilous days when sailors still rounded Cape Horn to reach San Francisco.

Julia’s brother-in-law, Captain Charles H. Gates, and his son were last seen a year and a half earlier on June 1, 1870, embarking from San Francisco for England. As I wrote in an earlier chapter, they, along with 22 other crew members, were never heard from again.   

In Julia’s time, the voyage from New York to San Francisco took a bare minimum of three months. One week before Christmas, Julia wrote to her husband: 

Mystic River, Dec 18th, [18]71

My dear George,

When I sent my last letter, I thought I should certainly hear from you before I wrote again. but as yet there is no tiding from the Twilight and I am feeling great anxiety. It is five months today since you left New York and the time to me seems very long.  There is not a single moment that I am not thinking about you. I am daily and hourly hoping to receive some intelligence from you…

To live day after day in suspense is very unpleasant. I can hardly settle my mind to anything…I expect you will think I have got a fit of the blues. I do feel blue sometimes and I can not help it. But I shall feel better when I hear from you.

The children are very well. They are enjoying the sliding down the hill.  It rained yesterday and froze last night so today everywhere is ice. The Lot south of the house [218 High Street]. They slide the whole length with the Sled…The weather looks very much like a snow storm…

This is a busy week with those that are preparing for Christmas…but [I] do not feel much interested in it. The children are talking about Christmas gifts. And of course will expect something.  And the thought occurs, where and how will you spend Christmas Day. I do hope I may hear from you before next Monday [Christmas].  if not it will be a sad day to me…”

With love hoping to soon hear from you.       yours, Julia [i]  

Julia's Plum Pudding Recipe:
1/2 loaf bread soaked in milk, 1 tablespoon flour, 1/2 pound suet, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, fruit  and spice. [2] 

 Questions for you, Dear Reader:
How much salt? Which fruit? What spice? What is suet and where do you get it? What do you do with these ingredients?

Answers to my questions as of 5/3/14:
I received the following e-mail from a nutritionist:
"Suet is the solid white fat from a beef animal, mainly from around the kidneys and internal organs. The one time I made a traditional plum pudding and needed suet I got it from a butcher.  Not a supermarket meat section where everything is already pre-packaged and wrapped in plastic, but a store with a real, live butcher.  He didn’t charge a cent for it, since in his point of view it was going into the waste bin. Suet is also used along with seed for winter bird feeders."
Dr. Elisabeth Schafer, author of Vegetable Desserts: Beyond Carrot Cake and Pumpkin Pie

When I asked Dr. Schafer if she would share the recipe she made it from, she said,"I no longer have the recipe but the family judged it 'okay,' not 'great.' We have so many better ingredients available to us today than did Julia, that I doubt most people would want to make and eat something with a chunk of solid fat.  I still make a steamed pudding for Christmas dinner but I use butter or margarine.  Better flavor, better health value.  Guests, who don’t even know what went into the pudding, generally ask for seconds."
Cindy Modzelewski sent this online recipe that gives us an idea of how it was made: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Superb-English-Plum-Pudding-20010

If any of you actually tries making it using Julia's known ingredients, please let me know how it comes out and I'll post your results--good or bad!

[i] Letter from the Haley Collection of the Mystic River Historical Society.  Used by permission.
[2]. Recipe from  1990.005.0084  Haley Collection, Mystic River Historical Society, transcription by Beverley A. Gregg, Mystic Seaport Museum

To find out what happened to Julia's husband, please refer to Mystic Seafarer's Trail.


Lost at Sea: Father and Son

Do you hold the key to finding what happened to Mystic's Captain Charles H. Gates and his son? There are no bodies under this memorial in the Lower Mystic Cemetery. The following is an excerpt of my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail (if you know anything more, please tell me):

Although we know how the David Crockett met her end, there are other Mystic-built ships that simply disappeared. Mystic cemeteries are full of markers engraved with anchors and “Lost at Sea.” While visiting the dead Sissons, I noticed a large stone placed as a memorial to Captain Charles H. Gates and his 18-year-old son. It stated that father and son were last seen on the Cremorne leaving San Francisco on June 1, 1870, bound for Liverpool, England, and they “were never heard from.” In addition to them, 22 other crew members were lost at sea.

Did they join all the others who found their eternal rest in the sailor’s graveyard off Cape Horn? The Cremorne had been advertised as superior in strength to the David Crockett. If that’s true, perhaps the Cremorne will be found someday, a ghost ship still sailing the high seas. (This has happened before. In 1872, the brigantine Mary Celeste was found abandoned yet still sailing the Atlantic. Food and personal belongings were intact, but passengers and crew had simply disappeared.)

Before Captain Charles H. Gates went missing, he had lived near me at 48 New London Road (U.S. Route 1). His wife, Jane E. (Latham) Gates, sold their home 12 years after his disappearance. Never remarrying, she was finally reunited with her husband and son upon her death 53 long years later. She is buried near their stone in Lower Mystic Cemetery.
If you would like to know more about  sea captains from this era, read my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail, which is available online and Mystic area shops.

The ongoing upkeep and maintenance of the Lower Mystic Cemetery is funded by grants and generous contributions from these community organizations and as well as private donations:The Charles B. Allyn Foundation, the Anderson-Pafford Foundation, Groton Elks Lodge No. 2163 and the Mystic Garden Club. For more information (or to make a tax deductible donation), please contact Lower Mystic Cemetery Association Secretary Judey Buckbee at jsbuckbee@gmail.com.