Teaching moments appear everywhere

Posted Aug. 02, 2009, at 7:01 p.m.

I’ve never had occasion to write my sons about a yacht, until last week:

“See the pic and story on the 185-foot yacht on the front page of Tuesday’s Bangor Daily News. That boat is 28 feet longer than the ship Grampy spent 20 months on in the Pacific.”

Like lots of Mainers and tourists last week, I walked down to the Bangor waterfront to look over the Lady Christine, owned by Irvine Laidlaw of Scotland.

Had my boys been home, I’d have made sure they went to look at the boat, too.

What’s the point? For my family, and that of any other sailor who served aboard an LCI, Landing Craft Infantry, during World War II, a look at this boat might give an inkling as to the size of the quarters that were home to these young men during the war.

Though the LCI 565 was far less luxurious than the Lady Christine, seeing a craft roughly the same size could be a teaching moment for my children, as it was a learning moment for me.

Gayland Moore Jr. watched the LCI 565 being built in The Solomons, Md., in seven days. As a member of its first crew, he was a “plank owner.”

He was on board as its flotilla started across the Atlantic in 1944 toward what would be the invasion of Normandy.

But a couple of days out, several of the boats turned back to Virginia, where they were refitted as gunboats. After sea trials, the ships headed for the Panama Canal and on to the Pacific, where my father’s ship participated in the battles of Leyte Gulf, Luzon and Okinawa.

The black-and-white photo of the LCI hangs on my wall at home, as it did so many years until my dad died. A photo of him in his white sailor uniform is on the wall above it, and his dog tags hang on the picture of the ship.

When I look at that picture, the ship seems so big to me, despite the fact that my dad always said it was 157 feet long.

So a look at a boat that is similar in size helps remind me how little space my dad and his crew made do with for more than a year — even during the time that it was a flagship with an admiral and extra crew aboard.

Those who had a relative serving on an aircraft carrier will be interested in the Intrepid, the World War II ship that is now a museum in New York City.

I once spent a couple of days on the carrier CV-67 John F. Kennedy for a news story, and it was fascinating. The flight deck was approximately 1,000 feet long — more than three football fields in length.

The U.S. Navy calls its aircraft carriers “5 acres of sovereign territory,” wherever they go.

I also have toured the 499-foot State of Maine training ship at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine.

Of course, the best kind of teaching moment is spending time with a veteran. Thousands of young students from Maine classrooms have visited Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor to interview a veteran through the Ambassadors of Freedom program. For information, call 990-3600.

Other teaching moments I’ve enjoyed include taking our sons to Plimoth Plantation, the re-creation of the Pilgrims’ settlement for the year 1627, seven years after they landed.

Your family might like to visit King’s Landing in New Brunswick, or Leonard’s Mills, home of the Maine Forest and Logging Museum in Bradley.

When our sons were in high school, we also made a trip to visit the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

My younger son, in particular, likes to travel. A few years ago, he and I took a few days to visit Quebec, where all of his father’s ancestors had lived at one time or another. We visited the main church in Quebec City, where so many in our family were married.

That same son had the opportunity once to go to England for a week. Though he didn’t have time to go ancestor-hunting, he did have with him my list of some of our English ancestors and where they lived.

He shared some of this information with a Roman Catholic priest from Scotland, who was duly impressed with our royal ancestry, until Tony mentioned King Edward I.

Apparently one doesn’t bring up Edward with the Scots, who call him “The Hammer.”

Though my sons aren’t genealogists at the moment, they do have a sense of family history. When Tony came home last month with his wife, Heather, and son, Aidan, he made it clear that he wanted to go “up north.”

Though his memere and pepere, Rosette and Willard Saucier, are no longer living, Tony wanted to take his family to Frenchville to visit “ma tante Claudette and mon oncle June” and the girls. They also toured St. Agathe to see where the homestead of Belone and Edith (Chasse) Chamberland was in the “Concessions,” the back roads where the farms were located.

No doubt you’ve found lots of teaching, and learning, moments over the years, too.

Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail queries to familyti@bangordailynews.net.

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