The Case of the Missing Cup

Just a few weeks ago I posted a story on Sepia Saturday about a flagpole. (see "From Schooner to Flagpole") It's a story about how the main boom from a famed fishing schooner became a flagpole in the coastal city of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Gertrude L. Thebaud
Fishing Schooner Gertrude L. Thebaud
Photo: Boston Public Library - Flickr
The main boom, now flagpole, came from the schooner Gertrude L. Thebaud. She was built in 1930 in the little hamlet of Essex, Massachusetts. If you have ever been through Essex you might agree, it would be hard to believe that a boat of the size of a schooner could be launched into the little marsh creek that runs through town, but it happen. The Thebaud was built in for one specific purpose. She was to defeat the Gloucester schooner fisherman's rival; the Bluenose of Nova Scotia.

The Canadians had defeated the Gloucester fisherman several times over the course of the rivalry dating back to 1921. The Bluenose seemed unstoppable. The Gertrude L. Thebaud defeated the Bluenose in their first competition in 1930, however she was not able to win again in 1931 and 1938.

The International Fishermen's Cup trophy however did its own bit of travelling. It was brought to Boston aboard the Bluenose to be ready when a winner was declared in the 1938 races off of Gloucester and Boston. A local department store proudly displayed the silver cup in its show windows.

Captain Angus Walters International Fisherman's Trophy
Captain Angus Walters
International Fisherman's Trophy
When the time came to present the cup to the Bluenose crew, who won two out of  the three races, the trophy turned up missing. The Canadians were furious. Captain Angus Walters ordered the Bluenose to sail for Nova Scotia before, "it too came up missing." They sailed even before the engines were reinstalled. The cup's insurer offered a $500 dollar reward but no one came forward.

The errant trophy finally resurfaced a few weeks later. It was found early on Halloween morning on the steps of the orphanage, New England Home for Little Wanderers. The matron of the orphanage was puzzled as she unwrapped the lovingly prepared package. Inside the basket, next to the swaddled glimming cup, was a bottle of cod liver oil and a poem scrawled on a piece of paper:
Here's to Angus, good old sport,
Whose challenge sort of takes us short,
Give us a gale that blows at thirty,
And we'll bet our shirts on little Gertie.
The Fisherman's Trophy eventually made it's way back to Nova Scotia. As you can see by the final photo, it's proudly displayed in the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg, NS. Due to the impending World War schooner racing stopped and the Fisherman's Trophy was never awarded again.

Bluenose Exhibit Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
Bluenose Exhibit
Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic

Race your schooner over to Sepia Saturday.
There may be a trophy quality post waiting there for you to see. Just click here.


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