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Three Generations

Posted by on Aug 11, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Three Generations

Three generations of Law descendants meet up in Rogers City, Michigan. This past weekend my wife Kim and I were at the Rogers City Nautical Festival. Kim was selling her nature and landscape photography feature many of Michigan’s Lighthouses and I was autographing copies of Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes. While it was great being back in the town where I was born one thing happened that was very special, I got to finally meet Chuck (Charles) and David Law.  Chuck is a grandson of Rev. William H. Law, The Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes. His father was William’s son Charles who was with Rev. Law on the trip to Bois Blanc Island in 1900 where the U.S. Lifesaving Service rendered assistance to them and in doing so changed the course of Rev. Law’s mission work. It was this rescue where Rev. Law, after learning about the U.S.L.S.S. and how these men put their own lives on the for other for very little pay, decided to rededicated his life’s work to serving these men and their families, the story of which is outlined in my book. I had spoken with Chuck and his son David, many times on the phone and through email throughout the years while researching the book but we had never been able to actually meet in person. But this year, knowing I would be in Rogers City, they made the trip from Torch Lake in order to spend an hour or so with us. My mother Pam, whose grandmother was Rev. Law’s youngest daughter Ruth, also came for the visit making for a gathering of three generations of Law descendants. When you only know someone by a phone call or two you don’t really get a full understanding of their personality and after this meeting I can tell you that meeting Chuck was a complete joy. He was quick, spry and immediately likable. I appreciate anyone who has a sense of humor and Chuck’s was abundant. I am very glad we finally got the opportunity to connect in person and hope to do so again one day....

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Rogers City, The Nautical City

Posted by on Jul 27, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Rogers City, The Nautical City

Roger’s City, Michigan holds a special place in my heart. This small town of about 3000 people is located in Presque Isle county on the shore of Lake Huron between the cities of Alpena and Cheboygan. It calls itself the “Nautical City”, in part because of its location on Lake Huron, its proximity to the 40 Mile Point, Old and New Presque Isle lighthouses and the fact that it houses the Port of Calcite, the world’s largest open pit limestone quarry and one of the largest shipping ports on the Great Lakes, within its boundaries. It also happens to be the city in which I was born. Rogers City was the home port of two ships that went down on the Great Lakes, the SS Carl D. Bradley and the SS Cedarville. The Bradley, while heading home on November 18th 1958 in a November gale, succumbed to the stresses of the wind and wave and sank to the bottom of Lake Michigan, taking with her 33 souls of her 35-man crew, 23 of which were from Rogers City. One crewmember who was lost, Alfred F. Boehmer, was a distant relative of mine, his wife and my grandmother being cousins. While I wasn’t yet born when the Bradley met her fate, stories of that night handed down through my family are among some of my earliest memories. The Cedarville, met her fate in 1965 when she collided with the SS Topdalsfjord in a heavy fog, taking 10 souls with her. Whenever I’m in Rogers City I try to make it a point to visit the memorial for these ships, a plaque mounted on a large boulder located in Lakeside Park. I also have fond memories of the many times as a youth spending a day at the New Presque Isle lighthouse helping to clear brush from the trails leading to the shore then climbing its 139 steps after the work was done to get the great view it provides.  I’ve always loved this lighthouse as it’s one of the tallest on the lakes and the setting, with its many white cedars and occasional birches lining the Huron shore, makes for some wonderful scenery. Then there was the annual trip to the Rogers City Nautical Festival, a nearly week-long event celebrating all things nautical and the rich nautical history of the town. Of course, as a child, my favorite part was the professional fireworks display that would cap the end of the festival. This is year it is my pleasure to take part in the 2016 Rogers City Nautical Festival as vendor. I’ll be signing copies of my own piece of Great Lakes Maritime History, my book, Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes. If you’re in the area August 5-7, 2016, or need a reason to get away, come the Nautical Festival. While you’re there stop by the Arts & Crafts area near the courthouse where I’ll have copies of Sky Pilot available and my wife, Kim, will be showing her photography which includes some great shots of the local lighthouses. It should be a good time. See you...

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Wherefore art thou, John?

Posted by on Jun 15, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Well, what can I say? I’ve neglected the blog for a very, very long time. Life has a way of getting in the way sometimes and the blog just kept falling on the priority list. Hopefully this post will bring it back up that list and we’ll see more interesting posts in the future (that’s the goal anyway!) So, let’s step into the time machine and go back a year when I had mentioned in various blog and Facebook posts some ideas for new books I was thinking of writing. One idea was a biography of Capt. Albert Ocha, whom you may remember from Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes. When I was researching and writing Sky Pilot I was very interested in knowing more about Albert as he seemed like a subject worthy of his own book.  Well, I’m proud to say that this book is happening. I am not sure in what form it will come at this time nor am I sure when it will be completed, but I can say that a good 80% of the research is completed and two full chapters have been drafted so far. Also, for this project I am working with a Co-Author. John Galluzzo, author, historian and all-around groovy dude.  He’s been a great help in getting me over some research obstacles and I know that John will proof read all my writing and get out his “red pen” to catch spelling and grammatical errors I will inevitably send his way. I’m hoping he’s not counting on me to the same for his drafts as he’ll have to proof-read my proof-reading as well. And that could lead to a vicious circle of proof-reading, which nobody wants or needs (and the book will never come out!). You can view John’s Amazon Author Profile here: John Galluzzo @ Amazon There is also the question of what to do with all the left-over research on Rev. William H. Law. A good fifty percent of the information I found during my research for Sky Pilot, while very interesting and historically important, just didn’t fit into the scope of that book. So what to do with it? How do I get it out there in a form that can be easily digested? Well, I figured some of the information would make for good articles for various maritime and historical journals. A few have already been published in Wreck & Rescue Journal and The Keeper’s Log. And there are at least five more articles written which hopefully will be published in future editions. But that still leaves a good portion of information that revolves around the Law family’s “pioneer days” in the Les Cheneaux islands. So I’m also writing a book that will focus on this. This project already has about 40,000 words drafted, the rest will come once I figure out how I want it flow. I expect this book will be hyper-local to the Les Cheneaux Islands area and Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan if picked up by a publisher. If not, there are other options to get it out there. We’ll see what happens. I have also been writing semi-fictional, humorous short stories based on my experiences and travels throughout the great state of Michigan. Semi-fictional in that while these events did...

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The Sky Pilot Returns

Posted by on Apr 4, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Recently the Historical Society of Michigan asked if it would be all right if they had an actor portray The Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes, William H. Law, at their annual conference. Of course, I said yes. Many thanks the the Historical Society of Michigan for the...

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Happy 100th Anniversary to the Coast Guard – Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes

Posted by on Jan 28, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Happy 100th Anniversary to the Coast Guard – Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes

Happy 100th Anniversary to the Coast Guard act of 1915! In case you missed my interview about Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes with Michigan Public Radio’s “Stateside with Cynthia Canty” program yesterday and would like to hear it, there is a podcast available on their website through this link. The interview begins at about the 20 minute mark. Listen Here. On this day, January 28th, 1915 – President Woodrow Wilson put pen to paper and signed in to law the Coast Guard act of 1915, thereby combining the Revenue Cutter Service and the United States Coast Guard into a single service, The United States Coast Guard. This marked a victory in a long-fought battle by the Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes, Rev. William H. Law, who since 1900 had been lobbying the government of the  United States to provide better pay and pensions for members of the United States Life-Saving Service. The new act provided pay increases and pensions to those serving in the newly formed Coast Guard. — LIFE  SAVERS’  PENSION  BILL  PASSED;  LAW  HAPPY Duluth News Tribune – January 29 1915 “Sky Pilot of Inland Seas” Worked on Measure for Years W. H. Law,  the  “Sky  pilot  of  the  Inland  Seas,”  is  the  happiest  man  between  Duluth  and  Pawtucket  Light  these  days.  He  has  been working for  years  to  obtain  the  passage  of  the  bill  which  puts  life  savers  on  a  par  with  Navy  men and naval  reservists  and –  this is the big feature of it – pension  them  on  retirement. The bill passed the senate last week, and Mr.  Law, writing from Detroit to W.  H. Cook of  this  city  says:  “I  regard  the  passage  of  the  bill  as  a  birthday  present,  as  the  news  ca me  to  me  on  my  sixty-second  birthday.  I  am  delighted  over  the  victory  for  it  means so much to  the  brave  men  who  have  long  deserved  this  recognition  on  the  part  of  the  government. The  bill  provides  a 10  per cent  increase  in  pay  at  the  end  of  every  five years of service  and  after 20  years  the chance to retire with 75 percent  of  the  salary  and  allowances  as  a  pension,  It  also  places  the  life  saving  service  and  the  revenue  cutter  service  in  a  new  department,   the  Unites States  coast  guards subject  to  orders  from  the  treasury  department. The Bill will affect 2,000  men, 576 in 64  stations  on  the  Great  Lakes,  the  rest  in  224  ocean  stations. For  24  years  W. H. Law  has  been  known  as  the  “sky  pilot”  of  the  Great  Lakes.  His parish extends from the Thousand Islands in the St.  Lawrence River to Duluth.  His  parishioners number  into  the  tens  of  thousands,  Each  year,  be  pays  several  visits  to  every  life-saving  and  light station  on  the  Great  Lakes  bringing  books,  delicacies,  mail  and  good  cheer  to  the  men. Each year he addresses a personal letter to every man in every life-saving and Light station in American waters.  His lecture text is laughter and   optimism: His gospel optimism, laughter and happiness:  his sermon.  happiness,  optimism, good  cheer  and  laughter,  He  preaches the   doctrine  of  “fellowship  of  humanity.” — Happy 100th Anniversary to the Coast Guard act of 1915!  ...

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Interview with Stateside with Cynthia Canty – January 27th, 2015

Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Tune in to Stateside with Cynthia Canty tomorrow January 27th, 2015 to hear an interview I did with Cynthia about the Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes and the 100th anniversary of the United States Coast Guard. The show will air at 3:00 P.M. & 10 P.M.on Michigan Public Radio and Interlochen Public Radio stations across the state. A podcast of the interview should be available after the airing on Stateside’s...

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A Birthday Present for the Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes

Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

A Birthday Present for the Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes

One hundred years ago on this day, January 20, 1915, the U.S. House of Representatives, on the recommendation of then President Woodrow Wilson passed the Coast Guard Act of 1915. The bill (S. 2337; a bill “To create the Coast Guard by combining therein the existing Life-Saving Service and Revenue Cutter Service.” ) had been introduced to the U.S. Senate on May 16, 1913 by Senator Charles E. Townsend of Michigan, was referred to committee and ultimately passed by the Senate on March 12, 1914. The bill, if signed in to law, would form the United States Coast Guard by merging the existing Revenue Cutter Service and the United States Life-Saving Service. More importantly to the “Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes” Rev. William H. Law, it would provide an updated pay structure and provide pensions to the men in their service. The battle for a law favorable to the welfare the life-savers and their families had been waged by many as early as the late-1800’s. William H. Law, as part of his mission, took it upon himself to inform the public and their representatives in government of this need as early as 1900, after his own life was rescued by men of the USLSS. In his 1902 publication, “Life Savers in the Great Lakes”, W. H. Law includes the following intent: These pages are written and sent out as an expression of appreciation for the services of the Life Savers in taking the author, his son, and a friend from a stranded yacht, with a hope that the people’s representatives in the United States Congress may be favorably disposed toward a bill pertaining to the Life Savers now in the hands of a committee. Though these earlier attempts at the passage of a bill to enact a pension for the men in the USLSS had failed, W. H. Law persisted in his efforts to garner support for a pension bill to be enacted. Working with Senator Charles E. Townsend, they would draft a bill that the Senator could bring to the floor and have a chance of being passed. One of the main sticking points of such a bill was the fact that the USLSS was in essence a civil service and that by granting pensions to the members they would be opening the door for the pensioning of all civil service employees. In order to get around this, the bill would be worded instead as a reorganization plan, combining the USLSS and the Revenue Cutter service into a new organization called the Coast Guard with provisions to place them under the authority of the military, thus removing them from civil service. “If they pensioned the lifesaver they left the field open to the vast array of civil service employees. They [the government] couldn’t do that, so we decided to ask for a reorganization putting the lifesaver on par with the naval reservist and the navy men, where he belonged,” W. H. Law stated to the Detroit Free Press in 1915. While Senator Townsend was preparing to bring the bill to the floor in 1913, the Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes started a lobbying campaign of his own, sending various letters and stories of the brave men of Life-Saving Service directly to the homes of the very Senators...

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A Christmas Message for the Lightkeepers and Coast Guard People (1919).

Posted by on Dec 15, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

A Christmas Message for the Lightkeepers and Coast Guard People (1919).

Copy Of A Typewritten Letter As A Christmas Message for the Lightkeepers and Coast Guard People.   135 Pine St., Detroit, Mich., Dec. 25, 1918 My Dear Friend:- Christmas Greetings from myself – Sinbad the Sailor, who also extends greetings from the Lightkeepers and Coast Guard people and Old Father Neptune the Storm King, and his Mermaids throughout the Great Water World. I am sitting in my own quiet room upstairs, down below on the ground floor there is a little Christmas tree beautifully trimmed, and about it there is dancing a little boy we call “Golden Locks,” because of his ten distinct ringlets hanging loosely over his ears and neck. This is our three-year-old grandson, Billy Moore. There are several other grandchildren on their way to Grandpa’s and Grandma’s house, and soon I must join them in a Christmas celebration. What a wonderful thing the institution of Christmas is, deriving its name, and especially the beautiful spirit of cheer, of hope, and of kindly consideration that characterizes Christmas, from Christ Himself, who nearly 2,000 years ago, left his sacred footprints in the sands along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, as He went about doing good.   “The hands that helps is better than the lips that only pray. Love is the ever gleaming star that leads the way, That shines not on vague worlds of bliss, But makes a paradise in this.”   If you hear anyone say there is no such thing as “Santa Claus,” that it is a “delusion” and a “myth,” please remind him of the fact that it is the spirit kindness, the disposition to sacrifice for others, a kindly generous spirit in the beauty of sacrifice that seems to be in the very air at this period of the sweet Yuletide, that takes possession of everybody that has a heart to feel – this bright and beautiful spirit is Santa Claus. The good natured, fat, jolly, red faced and red nosed old chap, with his reindeers, sled and rich warm furs, is Santa Claus in a form that can be understood by the smallest children; this is Santa Claus in the rough, but the real Santa Claus is the spirit that puts him in motion and furnished him with the goods, for be it remembered, the giver is greater than the gift.   “O, little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie, Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light, The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”   The war is won, and now as never before, we realize that the greatest element of success is our firm faith in our ability to succeed through courtesy and efficiency. May you learn to look at the bright side, keep the sunshine of living faith in your heart and never let the shadows of discouragement and despondency fall upon your pilgrim path. Very sincerely, W. H....

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Spiders gather poison where bees gather honey: Aftermath of the Mataafa Storm

Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Spiders gather poison where bees gather honey: Aftermath of the Mataafa Storm

“The public is apt to run to extremes.” One of the many quotes from the Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes, Reverend William H. Law I ran across in my research for the book that shows not much has changed in the past 100 years. This particular quote comes from an article in the Duluth News Tribune, Dec. 8, 1905 in the wake of the Mataafa disaster.  If you are unfamiliar with this particular event,  I would point you to a great book on the subject, “Luck of the Draw- The Mataafa Story” by Robert M. Abrahamson. Suffice it to say the disaster was one of many wrecks caused by a storm that occurred on the Great Lakes on November 27-28, 1905. Rev. Law happened to be in Duluth during the storm, later writing first-hand accounts of the many wrecks and the bravery of the U.S. Life-Saving crew in their efforts to save as many sailors as possible. In the aftermath of the storm, which took the souls of 36 and destroyed or severely damaged 29 vessels, the public in trying to make sense of the death toll lashed out and criticized the local life-saving crew, the same crew whose selfless acts that day saved many, for not doing enough. We see these reactions even today when events happen that are hard to grasp. We, the public, tend to take the easy road when grappling with complex events that are beyond our control. It is easier for us to assign blame to any one particular component of the overall event than to accept the reality that these events can be and most-often are the culmination of many factors that may or may not be within our control. Even when they are within our collective means to control, we still tend to choose the easy path of assigning blame rather than striving to correct the issues to prevent them from happening again. Rev. Law, in seeing the injustice being dealt the brave crew of the Life-Saving crew rightly determined that this should not stand and took it upon himself to set the record straight:   LIFE SAVERS NOT TO BLAME W.H. Law of Detroit Says They Did Everything Possible. “Familiar with the duties of life saving crews by 20 years of service among the life savers along the chain of lakes from the Big Sandy at the foot of Lake Ontario to Duluth and acquainted with every captain in the service, l declare without hesitancy that the life saving crew of Duluth heeded well the call of duty in attempting to rescue the crew of the steamer Mataafa, nine of whom perished from exposure on the wrecked boat a few feet from shore a week ago Tuesday night.” So spoke W. H. Law of Detroit, Mich, last night. He is a missionary to the lighthouse keepers, life saving crews, their families and the fishermen on the islands of the great lakes. He witnessed the Mataafa disaster and has come to the support of the life crew with an answer to adverse criticism of the manner in which the crew confronted danger. “The public is apt to run to extremes,” he said. “It is like a strong inexperienced boy who knows not his own strength and is difficult to control. There is...

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To all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by on Nov 26, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

To all a Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to drop a note to thank everyone that has followed my journey this year and to wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving with family and friends. -J “Most of all to be remembered with delightful recollections are those family gatherings, the family circle of nine boys and two girls, with father and mother, around the winter’s fire; not the kitchen stove, but the real fire, the brightly blazing hospitable fire in the big, old-fashioned wood fireplace in the farm house of the old homestead. There is no restriction, no restraint of any sort, and certainly no affectation of style. We told stories, we laughed, we often all sang together. We were serious and gay by turns. We younger members of the family would engage in some games or play while father and mother are discussing some hard point of theology in the minister’s last sermon, or perhaps the great danger coming to sound, Christian morals from the multiplication of card parties and country dances.” ~ Rev. William H. Law, 1927...

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