(photo credit for all to Mindy G. Zoll)
Bay week is nigh three weeks past but this is a great time to be thinking about where we were and where we might like to be for Labor Day weekend. Preparations are moving ahead for the great celebrations of the Bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie and Perry’s Victory over the British. Mindy and I were glad to be ashore and taking the walking tour of the town for the first time. All our other trips were for specific events in the past couple of years. Today we were here to visit.
The town set up a bath house on the north end of the park. We freshened up and walked toward the Boardwalk. What a great surprise to see a car puttering through the water between A dock and the ferry launch dock. A red Amphicar was tooling around in the water showing off its ‘sleek’ lines. Built in Germany from 1961 to 1966, this car was later sitting up on the hard on its rubber tires, twin screws clearing the ground by ample inches. What a treat to see such a classic in action.
Wharf Side is a general store and ship’s chandlery as well as a local ‘watering hole’. The staff there was happy to give my battery a recharge so we swung by to pick it up. Mindy decided we needed a couple of refrigerator magnets, one of a sailboat and the other of a light house. We grabbed a couple of cold drinks and headed east toward the monument.
This was the first time we’d been to the island when the monument was open. It had been under repairs when we were up last year. Today was a beautiful day for a climb and taking pictures. Before heading up we met a National Park ranger who was very forthcoming with the conflict between the ‘official’ story of the burial of officers at the monument and the ‘mossback’ local story. Seems some time back the British and Canadians desired to repatriate their officers. When the bodies were exhumed, the mossbacks say there were no remains. But being a political issue (the government can’t admit to losing bodies), one of the local diggers disappeared into the local butcher shop and came back with a bag of ox bones. These were reinterred. And the government claimed, yes, there were bodies exhumed, but it was impossible to determine one from the other. The graves remain undisturbed since in the floor of the monument.
Local lore makes for a fun conversation. But with the assumption that this is a grave site as well as a memorial to the sacrifices of the men in the battle, it was disappointing to see people standing in line and walking over and through the markers. I took the liberty to reestablish the rope boundaries and then stand back respectfully. I hope if you visit, you will do so as well. The rotund entrance has the walls inscribed with the names of the wounded and the dead on the American side. It’s not practical to expect reverent silence in such a place. It is open on four sides to weather and filled with as many people as the Park Service can get inside, weather dependent. We waited for about forty minutes to ride the elevator to the top. Here’s the view:
Plaques around the top describe the naval battle that took place September 10th, 1813. With a thousand boats expected on the water off Rattlesnake Island and East Sister this year, Mindy and I decided this might be the better place to watch than from the deck of Lifeline during the reenactment.
It was getting to be late in the afternoon and in August, even on the island, that means it was getting hot. Time to climb down and find some air conditioning. We walked over to the Visitor’s Center and read our way around the diorama of the sea battle, refreshing our memories of how the Lawrence got pounded and what errors the British made in bringing its fleet about. Their entangling the yards of the two largest ships, the Detroit and the Queen Charlotte gave Perry the advantage he needed once he transferred his flag. We shopped the gift store and I ‘donated’ $25 for a ‘Don’t Give Up the Ship’ burgee for Lifeline.
It was time to find a place to rest our feet before the party this night. The Put-in-Bay Yacht Club lounge was on the other side of town. The mile walk warmed us even further. Arriving there we relaxed with cold drinks in a quiet corner, devouring the complimentary popcorn the staff was popping. It had been a full day between the mid-day sail and our tour of the town. The night’s party in the tent would be a short one for us, and others in ACSA have better stories of drinking and dancing anyway. We had a wonderful time in the company of our shipmates from Columbus.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7ETKLVlIIM (Ohio State Band enters PIB – video from on-board their ferry)
- Perry 200 to unveil ship monument Sept. 5 (goerie.com)
- Visitors rave about Perry quarter (toledoblade.com)
- U.S. Senate notes Battle of Lake Erie (toledoblade.com)
- Erie native to captain tall ship into Erie (goerie.com)
- OH: Hoist the Mainsail on 18 Tall Ships During August’s ‘Battle of Lake Erie’ Festival (jaunted.com)