Welcome to SCHOCK MCCOY PRODUCTIONS by J.H.McCoy. This website will give you information about a variety of topics: travel, nature, literature, history, and astronomy. The ARCHIVES contain some of my articles from THE MINDEN CITY HERALD. The last two pages are a tribute to my mother, Gloria (Schock) McCoy (1923-2013) - the journal she wrote on our 1977 trip out West can be found in WRITING/GSM. It is my hope that you will always find something interesting and informative on this website and that you will visit often. Please sign the guest book, and thank you for stopping by.
J.H. (John Herbert) McCoy
5:06 P.M. EDT
***CLICK ON THE NAME FOR A SHORT VIDEO***
THE CAMERA SKETCH BOOK **
** With apologies to Washington Irving and THE SKETCH BOOK OF GEOFFREY CRAYON, GENT. (1819-1820).
(Click on small "pics" to enlarge)
THE "BURN BOSS" IN THE WHITE HELMET
AUTUMN LEAVES IN THE THUMB
from THE OLD TEACHER'S ALMANAC (VIDEO)
++ some photos in THE CAMERA SKETCH BOOK are edited ++
"THE QUESTION IS NOT WHAT YOU LOOK AT BUT WHAT YOU SEE."
HENRY DAVID THOREAU (1817 - 1862)
QUIET BEAUTY - A PERFECT TREE ALONG M-25
SAND BEACH TOWNSHIP
THE THUMB & THE NATION
OCT. 1 JIMMY CARTER, 1924, 39TH U.S. PRESIDENT VIDEO OCT. 4 RUTHERFORD B. HAYES, 1822, 19TH PRESIDENT VID. OCT. 5 CHESTER A. ARTHUR, 1829, 21ST PRESIDENT VID.
OCT. 6 THOR HEYERDAHL, 1914, EXPLORER, KON-TIKI
OCT. 9 JOHN LENNON, 1940, THE BEATLES
OCT. 12 LUCIANO PAVAROTTI, 1935, OPERA TENOR
OCT. 14 WILLIAM PENN, 1644, FOUNDER OF PENNSYLVANIA
OCT. 14 DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, 1890, 34TH PRESIDENT VID
OCT. 14 E.E. CUMMINGS, 1894, MODERN POET
OCT. 16 NOAH WEBSTER, 1758, FIRST U.S. DICTIONARY
OCT. 21 ALFRED NOBEL, 1833, CHEMIST/NOBEL PRIZES
OCT. 25 JOHANN STRAUSS, 1825, MUSIC/LIGHT OPERA
OCT. 25 PABLO PICASSO, 1881, SPANISH ARTIST
OCT. 27 THEODORE ROOSEVELT, 1858, 26TH PRESIDENT VID OCT. 30 JOHN ADAMS, 1735, 2ND U.S. PRESIDENT VIDEO
OCT. 31 JOHN KEATS, 1795, ENGLISH ROMANTIC POET
SANDHILL CRANE & CORNFIELD
IN THE SUBDIVISION (SAND BEACH TOWNSHIP)
9636 Roberts Rd.
Harbor Beach, MI 48441
GOLDEN YELLOW TREES AND THE BEET HARVEST (WITH GULLS)
ANOTHER "BEAUTY" ON WHITE ROCK ROAD (WITH VULTURES)
"October is the tenth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars.... The eighth month in the old calendar of Romulus c. 750 BC, October retained its name (from the Latin and Greek ôctō meaning "eight") after January and February were inserted into the calendar that had originally been created by the Romans...." [Wikipedia]
1. "Arthur M. Anderson &
November 10, 1975"
2. "Joseph H. Thompson and the Photographers"
TREE-LINED ROAD IN THE VERONA STATE GAME AREA
ARTHUR M. ANDERSON & NOVEMBER 10, 1975
from THE MINDEN CITY HERALD, AUGUST 27, 2020
The Arthur M. Anderson, several miles offshore and low in the water, sails past the almost completely submerged White Rock on August 12, 2020
"Help the poor!"
OCTOBER 20 - FIRST DAY OF PHEASANT SEASON
JOSEPH H. THOMPSON AND THE PHOTOGRAPHERS
from THE MINDEN CITY HERALD - 6/11/20
The photograph of the JOSEPH H. THOMPSON passing the iconic Harbor Beach Lighthouse
is courtesy of KAREN MURPHY PHOTOGRAPHY, Harbor Beach.
The Joseph H. Thompson is one of the most photographed ships on Lake Huron, at least during the time it takes to sail by Sand Beach Township and the Harbor Beach Lighthouse. Sometimes, three cameras are focused on her as she passes by. In the last few years, I have taken pictures of the ship several times, and I am not alone.
A professional photographer in Harbor Beach and a camera buff from my subdivision also snap pictures of the freighter as she moves up and down the lake. All three of us are on Facebook, and so sometimes pictures of the ship from three different vantage points are posted on the same day.
My interest in the Joseph H. Thompson stems from the fact that one of my former students is the first mate on the ship. He often gives me and my fellow photographers a heads-up about when he and his ship will be sailing past Harbor Beach.
Like other vessels on the Great Lakes, the Joseph H. Thompson has an interesting history. For openers, the ship was not always a lake freighter; in fact, she was launched during World War II as an ocean-going cargo vessel. Built in early 1944 in Chester, Pennsylvania, the 515 foot ship was christened the Marine Robin and immediately put in service for the war effort. The Marine Robin transported troops across the Atlantic Ocean to the battlefields of Europe. She was off
the coast of France on D-Day, June 6, 1944, when the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy and began the liberation of the continent.
After WW II ended with the defeat of the Japanese in the Pacific, the Marine Robin continued to function as a troop carrier in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In late 1946, she was retired and “put in mothballs” on the east coast.
When the demand for iron ore skyrocketed in the 1950s and more ships were needed on the Great Lakes, the old troop transport was brought out of retirement and converted into a lake freighter. In 1952, a 199.3 foot section was added to her hull, and her deck housing was converted from the mid-ship style to the traditional forward and aft cabins. She was renamed the Joseph H. Thompson, and at 714.3 feet, she was the longest freighter in the world at the time and “Queen of the Lakes.”
After three decades as an ore carrier, the Joseph H. Thompson was sidelined in 1981, when the demand for iron ore dwindled. For the next four years, she was laid up in Detroit and seemed destined for the scrapyard, like so many other WW II ships.
However, in 1985, she was purchased by the Upper Lakes Towing Company of Escanaba, Michigan, and converted into a self-unloading tug-barge. Her fore and aft cabins were removed and her hull was shortened to 706 feet. A notch was constructed at the stern of the ship to accommodate a tugboat, which would be used to power the barge.
A new tugboat, the Joseph H. Thompson Jr., was built of leftover steel from the conversion process and attached to the barge as a push tug. In 1991, the newly converted ship with a stern mounted self-unloading system was back on the Great Lakes as an ore carrier, this time for a twenty-four year run before changing hands once again.
Five years ago in 2015, the Joseph H. Thompson was sold to another barge company in Escanaba, Van Enkevort Tug & Barge Inc. Currently, she continues to operate on the Great Lakes as an ore carrier, hauling primarily limestone and some iron ore.
In 2019, Peter Groh, a spokesman for Van Enkevort Tug & Barge Inc. said of the Joseph H. Thompson:
“I think it’s unique that she does have past history supporting our troops and that she has survived all these years and is still in general commerce today.”
In the seventy-six years that she has been afloat, the old ship has undergone a lot of changes, reinventing and transforming herself from military transport to lake freighter and then finally to tug-barge.
In addition to her long and storied past, the Joseph H. Thompson is quite photogenic and has a local man onboard as first mate – all reasons why sometimes three cameras are focused on her as she sails past Sand Beach Township and the iconic Harbor Beach Lighthouse.
Notes: My contact aboard the Joseph H. Thompson is First Mate David Connell. Originally from Sand Beach Township, he is a former student and a 2004 graduate of Harbor Beach High School. Connell attended Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City, Michigan, graduating in 2009. He has been aboard the Joseph H. Thompson since 2015. David Connell lives in St. Joseph, Michigan, with his wife Michelle (Mausolf) and their two daughters, Lola (7) and Natalia (4).
The Joseph H. Thompson is named for the highly decorated WW I veteran and legendary University of Pittsburg football coach, Joseph “Colonel Joe” Henry Thompson (1871-1928). He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1925.
Last year, the push tug Joseph H. Thompson Jr. was replaced by the newer Laura L. Van Enkevort. Built in Louisiana for salt water service in 1994, the Laura L. was purchased by Van Enkevort Tug & Barge Inc. in 2018, and refitted for service on the Great Lakes. She began powering the Joseph H. Thompson in September 2019.
The photograph used in the article is courtesy of KAREN MURPHY PHOTOGRAPHY of Harbor Beach – she is the professional photographer mentioned in the article. Her picture was taken before September 2019, when the new push tug began powering the barge. The color of the Joseph H. Thompson Jr. (tug) matches the barge whereas the new tug, the Laura L. Van Enkevort, is basically white above the deck.
Prints and canvases of the photograph are available from KAREN MURPHY PHOTOGRAPHY. KMP is on Facebook and can be reached at: (989) 670-0471.
Enkevort Tug & Barge Inc. is in the process of building a new barge, the Michigan Trader. When completed, she will be paired with the Joseph H. Thompson Jr., the tugboat originally built in the late 1980s and now separated from her namesake barge.
In this 2020 photo, the Joseph H. Thompson is pushed by the new tug,
the Laura L. Enkevort. Notice the white tower.
THE UPBOUND JOSEPH H. THOMPSON ON AN OVERCAST SPRING DAY
Another ship story in the ARCHIVES:
"Lee A. Tregurtha and WWII" 4/9/20
Charting vessels on the Great Lakes. Follows the Thompson using the name
of the tug, Laura L. Enkevort.
OCTOBER 12 - COLUMBUS DAY (old school)
BARBERRY BUSHES IN THE UNDERSTORY
Of all the freighters that sail the Great Lakes and pass by the Thumb, perhaps none is more famous than the Arthur M. Anderson. Almost forty-five years ago on November 10, 1975, she was the last ship in visual and radio contact with the Edmund Fitzgerald before the doomed vessel sank to the bottom of Lake Superior in hurricane-force winds and thirty-foot waves. The Anderson also led the efforts to find and rescue survivors. There were none.
Captain Jessie B. Cooper was in command of the Anderson on November 9, 1975,
when she left Two Harbors, Minnesota, and sailed out into a calm and sunny Lake Superior. Shortly after departure, he made contact with Ernest M. McSorley, captain of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The “Big Fitz” had overtaken and then passed his vessel as both sailed east across the lake. The two captains agreed to stay in contact and run down Lake Superior together because a dangerous storm was brewing, and gale-force winds were predicted.
The story of their fateful trip across the “Big Lake” is well documented. Numerous books have been written about the last hours of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the part
the Arthur M. Anderson played in the tragedy. There have been investigations, reports, television documentaries, and endless speculation about what happened during the storm. There is even a popular song with a poetic version of the sinking.
Gordon Lightfoot’s 1976 ballad “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” hints at the final communications between the two freighters as they battled monster waves at the eastern end of Lake Superior and desperately tried to reach the safety of Whitefish Bay:
“The captain wired in he had water comin’ in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when ‘is lights went out of sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
The actual radio communication between the two ships on November 10, 1975, has the same eerie quality as the song.
At about 3:30 p.m., Captain McSorley (C.M.) contacted the Anderson and informed Captain Cooper (C.C.) that his ship had been damaged in the powerful storm:
C.M. - “Anderson, this is the Fitzgerald. I have sustained some topside damage. I have
a fence row laid down, two vents lost or damaged, and a list. I’m checking down (slowing the speed). Will you stay by me ‘til I get to Whitefish?”
C.C. - “Charlie on that, Fitzgerald. Do you have your pumps going?”
C.M. - “Yes, both of them.”
The final transmission between the two ships occurred at 7:10 p.m. It was a conversation between the First Mate of the Anderson, Morgan Clark (M.C.), and Captain McSorley (C.M) on the Fitzgerald:
M.C. – “Fitzgerald, this is the Anderson. Have you checked down?”
C.M. – “Yes, we have.”
M.C. - “Fitzgerald, we are about 10 miles behind you and gaining about 1 ½ miles per hour. Fitzgerald, there is a target (another ship) 19 miles ahead of us. So the target would be 9 miles on ahead of you.” (The Fitzgerald had lost her radar and was depending on the Anderson.)
C.M. - “Am I going to clear?”
M.C. - “Yes, he is going to pass to the west of you.”
C.M. - “Well, fine.”
M.C. - “By the way, Fitzgerald, how are you making out with your problem?”
C.M. - “We are holding our own.”
M.C. - “Okay, fine. I’ll be talking to you later.”
About 7:20 p.m. during a violent snow squall, the Anderson lost visual contact with the lights of the Fitzgerald. Then, the ill-fated vessel disappeared from radar. When the squall was over, the Fitzgerald’s lights were gone - the “good ship and crew” had passed into legend!
After numerous attempts to make radio contact with the Fitzgerald, Captain Cooper eventually relayed his fears about a possible sinking to the U.S. Coast Guard station
in Sault Ste. Marie. He also searched for any sign of the ship or possible survivors as he sailed on to the safety of Whitefish Bay.
Later that night at the request of the Coast Guard, Captain Cooper and the Anderson heroically returned to a stormy Lake Superior to again search for survivors. Of the eight American and Canadian ships anchored in Whitefish Bay that night, only the Anderson and two others agreed to assist in the search.
None of the twenty-nine men aboard the Edmund Fitzgerald was ever found.
However, the Anderson did locate pieces of the ship’s two severely damaged lifeboats.
Eventually, the wreckage of the “Big Fitz” was discovered at the bottom of Lake Superior about 17 miles from Whitefish Bay.
It has been almost forty-five years since that tragic night in 1975, and a lot has happened to the Arthur M. Anderson since then. In the winter of 1981-82 she was converted to a self-unloader, and in 1989, a stern thruster was added to make the ship more maneuverable in tight spaces.
There were also minor mishaps. In 1979, she collided with the rear of an ice-breaker but only sustained slight damage. In 1999, the Anderson was grounded in a shipping channel at Calcite, Michigan; and another grounding occurred near Port Island in 2001. In 2015, she was stuck in thick ice for five days on Lake Erie near Conneaut, Ohio.
At the end of the 2016 sailing season, the Anderson was sidelined and put in long-term layup in Duluth, Minnesota, because of changing business conditions. After a two-year hiatus, the freighter finally returned to service in 2019.
The Arthur M. Anderson continues to operate on the Great Lakes and occasionally
sails past the Thumb during daylight hours. If you get a chance to see her, even far
out on the lake as I did, you will be looking at Great Lakes maritime history, a living reminder of the tragic events that sent the Edmund Fitzgerald to a watery grave on November 10, 1975.
Notes: The website BoatNerd.com can be used to identify freighters passing by the Thumb. The ships are plotted on a map, and their movements are shown in real time. The web address is: www.boatnerd.com.
One of the best places in the area to view freighters up-close is Algonac State Park, located south of Port Huron on the St. Clair River. Park visitors can see and photograph freighters from around the world as they sail up and down the river between the upper and lower Great Lakes. Riverfront Park in Algonac is another
good place to watch the passing parade.
I have written two recent articles on freighters for The Minden City Herald: “Lee A. Tregurtha and WW II” (4/9/20) and “Joseph H. Thompson and the Photographers” (6/11/20). Both can be found on my website, Schock McCoy Productions - www.schockmccoyproductions.com.
I have also written articles about famous shipwrecks on the Great Lakes: “The Legend Lives On – November 10, 1975” (11/5/15); “Witch of November” (11/26/15); and “50th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell” (12/1/16).
Eventually, these articles will be available online when back issues of The Minden City Herald are added to the newspaper’s new website.
MOONS OF JUPITER - AN ACCIDENTAL "CATCH"
While waiting for the FULL CORN MOON to rise over the Lake Huron on September 2, 2020 (something I didn't see because of cloud cover), I snapped a few pictures of JUPITER in the south. When I looked at them, I was amazed that I had "captured" three of JUPITER'S
four largest moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto). Evidently, one was hidden behind
the "King Planet." The bright object to the far left is the planet SATURN.
"The first day of pheasant season used to be a red-letter day in Minden City. The town bustled with excitement as hunters got ready for the opener....
When I was twelve years old, I thought the first day of pheasant season was the most exciting day of the year. From the time I was in seventh grade, I was never in school on October 20!" [from TMCH]
COLORFUL LEAVES - A CLOSE-UP
*** EXTRA - "THE CAMERA SKETCH BOOK"
THE FALLING LEAVES DRIFT BY THE WINDOW
THE AUTUMN LEAVES OF RED AND GOLD