From Schooner to Flag Pole

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt shows a woman sitting sewing stars on an American flag.

Gertrude L. Thebaud under sail
Photo: Boston Public Library - Flickr
What an easy prompt to work with. There are many ways I one could go but this one has an obvious path. It goes from a woman, a flag, a schooner named for a woman, to a flagpole. As usual with one of my posts it gets to the point in a roundabout manner.

In looking around the internet for some flag photos I found this image of a schooner off the coast of Gloucester which isn't too far from where I am located in Salem. The schooner's name is the Gertrude L. Thebaud. She is famed for her rival racing competitions for the Lipton Cup with the Bluenose of Nova Scotia.

The Gertrude L. Thebaud went on from racing to transporting  the MacMillan Arctic exploration party. During the Second World War she served as the Coast Guard's 1st Naval District's flagship. Sadly she was wrecked in Venezuela in 1948.

In 1938 during the Arctic expedition the main boom was "buffeted" by Arctic gales and removed from the boat on its return. With her glory days over she was rigged as a motor vessel to be used presumably for cargo or fishing.
Main boom of the Gertrude L. Thebaud, now a flagpole.
Photo: Google Earth (click to magnify)

This is where this story takes a sharp turn. I can remember as a boy that the flagpole at the Newburyport fire station was originally the main boom of a great sailing vessel. With a bit more research I found this from the local paper Newburyport Daily News. "At the time, Newburyport Fire Chief C. Frank Creeden was on the lookout for a new flag pole and bought the boom (of the Gertrude L. Thebaud) for that use - where it now stands near the old firehouse downtown."

Although moved not far from it's original position next to the old fire station at Market Square, the main boom of the Gertrude L. Thebaud still stands presenting the stars and stripes proudly. That's all that is left of her.

To find many more seaworthy blog posts click here to sail to Sepia Saturday.


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