Calilco, wreck shoes, rum and coconuts

Forum dedicated to photos and information regarding history of lights, life-saving stations, keepers, lost lighthouses and more.

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Postby island » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:05 pm

When searching for LSS history items surprising things are often found.

By the time the George Appold wrecked on January 9, 1889, the U.S. Life Saving Service at Montauk Point Station was in full operation. The wreck occurred a mile and a half west of the point. The weather that day was clear, calm, but cold when the Appold ran some rocks in the minutes just past midnight. The ship seemed fine and one life boat was launched easily making it to the shore. There was plenty of time for preparation which at first seemed unnecessary until a storm erupted badly damaging the ship's wooden hull. As the storm increased in intensity the crew was ferried one by one to shore.

The ship broke up on the rocks and its cargo floated ashore over the next few days. Bolts of calico cloth, New England rum, shoes, boots, stockings, hats and underwear were devoured by eager beachcombers. Quilts of similar calico seemed to magically appear on clothes lines throughout town, as if purchased through the Sears Catalog. Sometimes parties were held after a wreck and participants were told to bring all unmated shoes with the hopes of finding their "sole mates". "Wreck shoes" were worn by school children who were most easily identified by the copper toes that seemed to indicate some mysterious fashion trend. Although East Hampton history speaks of the ugly calico, or the wreck shoes, very few negative comments have been found concerning the 100 barrels of rum.

Just two months later on March 14, 1889 Charles Raynor Bennet of the Georgica station saw a distress flag on a ship off shore. Then he noticed a life boat had been lowered. The crew of the mystery ship touched the beach and headed single file up the dunes then stopped in their tracks when they saw the Life Saving Station . Mr. Bennet saw a ragged crew of men suffering from scurvy, who had been without food or water for days. Their ship the Wingate, was of British registry, had lost its rudder and had been adrift for almost a week. They had delayed coming ashore because they feared that the island was inhabited by cannibal indians. They became desperate and decided to give one leap for the shore then run.( the crew of the Wingate was saved - they were however later eaten by a sight seeing group from New Jersey)

Not all rescues ended in disaster. Like the wreck of the Appold, the wreck of the Elise Fay on February 17, 1893, caused the people of East Hampton to go nuts, literally. The schooner went down off Ditch plain station, but her crew of seven were all rescued. Her entire cargo of coconuts made it to shore. Local residents found every conceivable way to use coconuts over the next year. In 1893, it was expected that one invited for dinner would arrive with a coconut cake.

Last edited by island on Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby epona » Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:29 am

I am on my way to have my money eaten by the gatekeepers of the Maine Turnpike, so I will read this in detail later.
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Postby Grover1 » Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:55 am

They had to be from the great Garden State? :wink:

Great lore ... thanks for passing it along
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Doubt those who find it ...
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Postby epona » Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:30 pm

Back for from Portland I have tears in my eyes from reading what Island posted. Yes, I had the toll keepers take my money 3 times, then I had the parking eaters take more money. I did not find any calilco or wreck shoes. However my tour guide of the Old Port pointed out many places where rum many be consumed. On my own was able to find store that sells coconut jelly beans and coconut fudge.

I have to wonder what us modern day folks would like to find washed up on our shores.
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