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The Big Lake Called Gitche Gumee

North America’s Great Lakes are more sea than a lake.  Bygone ships that sank
in the Great Lakes make for intriguing sea/lake lore. Here’s an example of a
long-lost 120-year-old Lake Superior shipwreck from the Detroit Free Press – Link.

In 1976, Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”
hit #2 on the Billboard chart. The song had the ring of a Great Lake lore,
a tragic tale of a sailing or steam-powered ship, right?  Well, no, it’s not.

For the uninitiated, select this Link for a listen.

I was a 25-year-old Southern Californian living in Duluth, Minnesota November of 1975.
My future wife and I arrived at the party of a good friend and close friend to this day.
It was a good time until the “Gales of November” rolled in from Lake Superior.

The wind began to howl as heavy blizzard snow dropped from a dark threatening sky.
It was time for a quick exit.  And we did in my Southern Californian winterized –
windows-rolled-up – 1973 Merc Capri. Hey, what are snow tires?

It was my first bonafide North Country winter experience; The path home, harrowing icy blinding snow, and slippery roads. I engaged my sunny beach body-surfing expertise to manage our slip-and-slide ride home.

I survived the ordeal. We were home. Bundled up and warmed by a serious basement
oil-fired boiler radiator heating system. Back west, Southern California Edison piped natural gas into a small floor heater.

To my North Country fiancé, it was just another Minnesota winter.  A-ha, just another winter night, right?  Over the next late-night hours and following days, the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald came to light.  Lightfoot’s song was not an old Great Lake tale.

“The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake, they called Gitche Gumee.
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead.”

By the end of January, I drove back with my Duluth Minnesota wife
to the winter sunshine of Southern California.

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