Beatitude Point … ( # 5 ) …

 

” You’re the strangest person I ever met she said and I said you too and we decided we’d known each other a long time “.

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Tuesday , 9-19-1972 , Chris’ journal

 

The alarm was set for 5:30 and we got up at six to discover a fine offshore breeze , east , shifting to southeast later in the day . A remarkable breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon really set the world straight . Dave and Dale woke with a heavy dew soaking their bags . Dale looked completely miserable ; he got in around 3:30 a.m. We cleaned up the cabin and cast off with amazing proficiency . The stiff easterly breeze pulled us along handsomely as we left Manistee at 7:00 a.m.

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Last night I had found out from a neighbor on board the ” A-lur-ing ” who in town could help us with our radio problem . So I called a Mr. Bob Cederhouse who told me the part would have to be ordered . We didn’t want to stay in Manistee for the rest of the week so he suggested Fairport in Charlevoix .  Dale hadn’t gotten around to fixing the gear shift yet , so we still have troubles with it . Just as we were crossing the mouth of the Platte River , the wind increased in speed and three times I was obliged to turn into the wind ; the third time almost being knocked down . We called all hands , Dave and Dale being below , to take down the small genie . Buzz suggested I jibe to come about but failed to loosen the small genie sheet which almost caused another knockdown . By the time he finally loosed the sheet , Dave and Dale were pulling down the small genie while the boat bucked on two to three foot seas . Holding it into the wind , the sail was secured and we turned on the engine in order to come about . Another sailboat , also bound for Florida , had been sailing under power with her main up . She took her main down and headed for the Platte River mouth . Around 9:30 a.m. We took down our main and powered through a grey morning . ( later that day we discovered it was Arcadia , not the Platte ). I took a nap shortly thereafter and woke up in Frankfort . We began sailing again off Point Betsie .

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We anchored in Sleeping Bear Bay , out first anchorage , and ate grilled hamburgers ashore . We cut our three-hundred-foot anchor line into three one-hundred-foot lengths , and whipped the ends above while Dave and Dale went fishing in the dinghy . Everyone is tired ; Dave is meeting Kristy Z. on shore and I’m going to sleep outside . Buzz is plotting the course for Charlevoix . We heard the registrations on the way . We’re missing the charts for Huron and Georgian Bay . We are also in need of a light list , crystals for channel 12 or 14 and a pair of field glasses .

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Sleeping Bear Bay : love interlude

She remembers him . His eyes clear , he doesn’t hide , she likes him , she remembers him from the Glen Lake church both their families attend in the summer . She is surprised at his bold phone call , they’ve never spoken before . She now walks toward the fire on the beach , he stands alone , his hair still wavy thick and long with a look intense and youthful . So much has yet to happen .

” Hey Kristie “! He yells as she approaches , hoping she doesn’t notice the little struggle in his throat .

Kristie is gazing about as she approaches close now and with the wind diagnosing her hair , releasing in front of him a sweet scent of perfume as she raises her arms to put her sweatshirt hood up .

” Here … I brought a blanket to sit on “. She sits , her long bare legs glistening from the firelight as she pulls her skirt over them  . The shoreline waves break and retreat .

” Is that your boat ?” , looking out at the moon lit bay .

” Yeh , and the dinghy here on the beach “.

” Where did you call me from “?

” I walked into town to the Standard Gas Station “, Dave responds remembering the neon sign on Glen Arbors deserted Main Street . And as they slowly begin to talk there exists suddenly a consoling rhythm to their words as if the earth was new once more and the sea comforting , and hours drift by and tranquility and excitement merge at the ease of their conversation , the eastward orbit of the earth propelling them towards the night at a faithful one thousand miles an hour . They embrace , the kiss enticing . She will always remember him and this horizon , a horizon indistinct with possibilities .

The morning is about to dawn .

” Kristie ? … write me “.

” Yes Dave , yes “.

The dinghy is loosing it’s hold on the deserted beach , the surf howls it’s laughter across the smooth stones and they wave , Dave and Kristie , they smile , they wave again , they hope .

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Dave climbs aboard the ” Venture ” , his mates asleep , he hears music wafting in the twilight zone on the new morn breeze crowded with flying seagulls …music from Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose , …

” Too Late To Turn Back Now ”

I found myself wanting her

At least ten times a day

You know it’s so unusual for me

To carry on this way .

 

I’m telling you I can’t sleep at night

Wanting to hold her tight

I’ve tried so hard to convince myself

That this feeling just can’t be right

And I’m telling you .

 

It’s too late to turn back now

I believe , I believe , I believe , I’m falling in love

It’s too late to turn back now

I believe , I believe , I believe , I’m falling in love .

 

I wouldn’t mind it

If I knew she really loved me too

But I hate to think that I’m in love alone

And nothing that I can do .

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Photo of girl with seagulls by Lara Zarkoul Photography

 

Beatitude Point . . . Prologue . . .

Alas , it is only now , after posting excerpts from four chapters , that I’ve written this prologue .

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Five years previous to Dave , Chris , Buzz and Dales sailing trip from the Great Lakes of Michigan to the Bahamas , Chris’ mother dies – he is only 14 years old . After reading his journal , I hear his mother calling out like a planetary song , to her beloved son from eternities realm thru these passionate lyrics of Bob Dylan’s . Dale and Chris drown together in Florida , five months into their dreams . Beatitude Point is the adventure story of four young men , friends , crew mates , united with the gleam of innocence still wet on their brow in the tumultuous year of 1972 , united strong on a journey still continuing over the galactic mysteries of the vast and mighty sea .

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A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan

 

Oh , where have you been , my blue-eyed son ?

And where have you been my darling young one ?

I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains

I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways

I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests

I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans

I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard

And it’s hard , it’s hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

Oh , what did you see my blue eyed son ?

And what did you see my darling young one ?

I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it

I saw a highway with diamonds with nobody on it

I saw a black branch with blood that kept dripping

I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’

I saw a white ladder all covered with water

I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken

I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children

And it’s hard , it’s a hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

And what did you hear my blue-eyed son ?

And what did you hear my darling young one ?

I heard the sound of the thunder that roared out a warnin’

I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world

I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’

I heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’

I heard one person starve , I heard many people laughin’

Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter

Heard the sound of a clown who died in the alley

And it’s hard , it’s a hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

Oh what did you meet my blue-eyed son ?

Who did you meet my darling young one ?

I met a young child beside a dead pony

I met a white man who walked a black dog

I met a young woman whose body was burning

I met a young girl , she gave me a rainbow

I met one man who was wounded in love

I met another man who was wounded in hatred

And it’s a hard , it’s a hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

And what’ll you do now , my blue-eyed son ?

And what’ll you do now , my darling young one ?

I’m a-goin’ back out before the rain starts a-fallin

I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest

Where the people are a-many and their hands are all empty

Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters

Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison

And the executioners face is always well hidden

Where hunger is ugly , where souls are forgotten

Where black is the color , where none is the number

And I’ll tell and speak it and think it and breath it

And reflect from the mountains so all souls can see it

And I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin

But I’ll know my song well before I start singing

And it’s a hard , it’s a hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

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Dedicating in loving memory to Dale and Chris … Whose youth is their final episode .

 

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Painting by William Bouguereau … ” Pieta ”

Photos by Aela Labbe Photography

 

Beatitude Point ( # 4 )

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” And the earth was without form : and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep . And the Spirit of God hovered upon the face of the waters . ” Exodus 1:2

 

Dale , sitting on deck in the quiet of the night , feeling lonely at Dave’s escape , listens as the blurred sound of ” Columbo ” floats up from below . Dave is usually out here under the stars but now Dale is pinned alone to the hallucinatory pewter sky . He wants to fit in , uncomfortable like on a secluded beach . The four mates graduated together from Grand Rapids Christian High , an education based upon the Dutch Calvinist denominations strict principles and parental education , binding each of them to the other as though on a see-saw , each attached to an axis that would lift them into each others life . The taste of spray off the restless blue green sea , reminding Dale of all the warnings not to drink , swear , dance or have sex . All four of them are athletes and this too joins them like a school of powerful fish . Yet Dale , being the shortest and from a less affluent background , wonders if he is worthy … even though the others consider him the toughest , surviving two concussions on the football field and getting up to finish the game . Remembering his team mates admiration at his strength puts him in a momentary state of exaltation and he feels pride as a constricting sensation in his chest , close to pain , difficult to breath . . . this feeling overcoming the secret of his recurring headaches . He suffers one this night and grimaces with a wary painful smile , looking out to the empty cove backlit by the amber setting sun where silhouetted figures on shore break away and merge into a darker mass . The rolling waves bringing slumber … Tomorrow he will try harder , try harder to prove himself . The vibrations of Led Zepplin are heard and enter Dales spirit , opening a door to a different realm .

“Stairway to Heaven “

” There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west

And my Spirit is crying for leaving .

In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees

And the voices of those who stand looking .

ooh it makes me wonder

ooh it makes me wonder .

And it’s whispered that soon , if we all call the tune ,

then the piper will lead us to reason .

And a new day will dawn for those who stand long

And the forest will echo with laughter “.

 

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Monday , 9-18-72 ( Chris’ journal )

We’ve learned a lot today . We awoke to the alarm at 5:00 am , but Dale and Dave had to be persuaded to get up . After a fine breakfast of pancakes and milk , we tried in vain to contact the Coast Guard and raise the 6:00 am weather report while the rain continued to leak through a cabin joint on Buzz’s side and the newly drilled radio antenna hole . Dale also complained of a leak over his bunk . Dave and I seem to have the only dry corners of the boat . I called the Ludington Coast Guard with some difficulty , much to the amusement of the telephone operator . They told us to call on channel 16 and then switch to 12 , but as I found out later , we have no channel 12 . The forecast called for 20 mph winds and 2-3 foot seas which have yet to materialize . The predicted rain has also failed to fall . The day dawned gray and overcast in distinct contrast to a striking orange sunset that preceded the coming darkness last night .

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Pentwater was a small hole-in-the-wall type of town in which you could see from one end of downtown to the other . Presumably still half asleep , we cast off with great difficulty at 6:30 this morning . This difficulty can now be recorded with some amusement value , although it could have been disastrous . 

When we tied up last night , we secured our fore dock lines before our aft lines which were , as is commonly true , piles without a catwalk connection . This we perceived to be an inadequate procedure and promised each other to reverse the technique . I am about to describe something I still fail to understand completely and cannot afix guilt for the blunder for fear of disrupting corporate harmony and because both parties have expressed feelings of their own guilt . In any event , Buzz or Dave in the difficult task of casting off from our incorrect mooring , dropped a dock line in the water to attempt a rescue of the drifting dinghy . The dinghy escaped and the dock line found it’s way around the prop and rudder ( as we found out later ). Out of the slip now we discovered our problem and drifted helplessly toward the west side of the harbor . Since we couldn’t start the engine with the line around the prop for fear of damaging the line or the engine or both , I declared that someone had to strip and dive to untangle the rope . Buzz said we were gaining on the dinghy so I turned the boat to bear upon it as Dale divested his clothing . The water was bitterly cold and I suggested Dave watch Dale in case a rescue was necessary . About this time , Buzz retrieved the dinghy we had caught and asked if he should slow the boats progress by pulling it with the dinghy . I told him to go ahead and try . Buzz then suggested I try to turn the bow into the wind , but the wind caught us broadside and our speed increased ! Now less than 30 ft. From shore , Dale kicked his way down to the prop for the 6th or 7th time and un fouled the propeller . We started the engine not 20 ft . from shore . Dave had a towel ready for Dale when he climbed on board , leaving me to handle the helm and catch the dinghy line from Buzz . Dale , in his haste to reach the warm cabin , slipped and fell hard but with no apparent injury . We all breathed a sigh of relief , praised Dale for his work , and entered Lake Michigan at 7:00am.

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We cruised under power for about an hour and a half and then tried to pop the spinnaker . I watched from the stern as the others rigged the sail with some ” discussion “. It went up nicely but our wind soon failed and we took it down . It was up backwards anyway ! We saw two steamers on the horizon , but no sails until we reached Ludington around 10:00am . We docked at a gas stop called Wally’s and went to talk to the Coast Guard about our radio . In talking with the radio man we found out that our radio didn’t have the necessary crystals to communicate with the Coast Guard unless we were in an emergency situation . 

After refueling at a different gas dock , we left Ludington for Manistee , cruised under power along a changing coast  until 2:00 p.m. when we stopped at Dave’s suggestion and went snorkeling . This lifted my spirits tremendously . We pressed on an hour later to arrive at Manistee at 4:00 p.m. We ate Spam and vegetable soup for supper and had a couple beers at the Coral Gables Bar . I elected to take a shower while Dave , Dale and Buzz played pool and swiped apples . Dale’s got a date for 11:00 tonight . The alarm is set for 5:30 a.m. And Dave is sleeping outside .

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Beatitude Point ( 3 )

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” Dead Poets Society ” … excerpt

” O Captain , my captain … Who knows where that comes from ? Anybody ? Not a clue ? It’s from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln . Now in this class you can either call me Mr. Keating , or if you’re slightly more daring , O Captain , my Captain .

Why do I stand up here ? Anybody ? I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way . They’re not that different from you are they ? Same haircuts , full of hormones just like you . Invincible , just like you feel . The world is their oyster . They believe they’re destined for great things , just like many of you , their eyes are full of hope , just like you . Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable ? Because , you see gentlemen , these boys are now fertilizing daffodils . But if you listen real close , you can hear them whisper their legacy to you . Go on , lean in – listen , you hear it ? … Carpe … hear it ? … Carpe , carpe dime , seize the day boys , make your lives extraordinary .  Boys , you must strive to find your own voice . Because the longer you wait to begin , the less likely you are to find it at all . Thoreau said , ” Most men lead lives of quiet desperation “. Don’t be resigned to that . Break Out “!

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Chris’ journal : 9-17-72

Dave and I were enjoying cooler temperatures outside , sleeping in the cockpit until about 1:00 am when gale winds off Lake Michigan brought us a pounding rain . We tumbled below and soon fell fast asleep .

The morning of our second day started at 9:00 am and all hands decided our days should start earlier . The wind might be better then . We’ll have to wait and see . After showers and a filling breakfast of sliced oranges , apples , pears and bacon sandwiches , we left Grand Haven about 10:30 am . The chores on board will have to be done after the days sailing , which is another reason for early morning departures .

Buzz was putting on the airs of the skipper this morning , noticed by Dave and Dale also . I hope this skipper syndrome will not endanger the harmony of the whole .

I’m studying the Rules of the Road and keeping busy with little odd jobs . The weather is clear and warm but the tremendous  winds of last night are nowhere to be found . We are having trouble with our gearshift ; it slips out of high into low without the constant pressure of a cord holding it back .

We sighted two large freighters leaving the Port of Muskegon today around 2:30 ; our first , but hardly our last . One was carrying cars on its deck and we cut his wake about 75 yards behind him . We waited just long enough to hear his warning blast before we came about .

we cruised under power all day keeping busy or amused with repairs and games . Dales constant adjustment of the water pump grease and discovery of another cooling system turn-off kept the engine temperature down .

The day began clear and sunny but ended overcast and sprinkling . Dale and Buzz argued about weather for awhile ; betting on the coming of rain . When it just barely sprinkled , they couldn’t decide who had won , so they called it off .

We argued about who should be assigned to wash the dishes while we ate a supper of canned beans , carrots , buttered bread and a quart of milk .

No showers for us tonight , but no slip fee either . We’re running low on ice and will buy some tomorrow . Buzz has an alarm clock and we’ll wake up early tomorrow . It’s raining lightly and Dave’s watching  Columbo on TV.

We called home to another world tonight and I didn’t know what to say even though I wanted to say something .

We have to check the charts , weather reports and call Coast Guard tomorrow to inform them of our ETA .

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As soon as the light begins to stream thru the gaps in the curtains , casting it’s strange reflections of Lake Michigan onto the wood planks of their cabin , Dave would arise to throw open the shutters and each time  wonder at the beauty that rushed in and exploded like the thrill of heeling over as “Ventures” sails filled , being pushed by the wind with speed picking up over the vast waters . All four crew-mates would admire the awesome sea with the orange dinghy tied behind the boat , bobbing in the waves with the mist rising above the dark wooded hills on the shore , and the way the first freighter of the morning joined in the current as it cut thru the open water , hissing like a ghost . They would gaze at this brilliantly colored realm to see a glorious and mysterious whole , their souls rejoicing to be alive , humbled at being part of something even greater .

” If people stayed outside and looked at the stars each night , I’ll bet they would live a lot differently “.

Seeing the ghosts of ancient ships lost like the Egyptian city of Heracleion sunken and shrouded in myths and legends , made them contemplate the largeness of history and their own smallness . They became drunk on the intense infinity shimmering all around them and it would sometimes overtake them .

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Note from ghost-writer : I hope you will hear Dave , Buzz , Chris and Dale speaking to you on their journey from the Great Lakes to the Bahamas … It is a true story about the essence of friendship , adventure  , love , anger , surprise , anxiety , joy and tragedy , life and death . The words from Chris’ journal are in their original form … I will note the order with each post with a number placed behind the title “Beatitude Point” in hopes you won’t get lost … Thankyou for being interested …

Beatitude Point … continued ( 2 )

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” They tell me I must wade into waters , where I will soon drown . Before I march in , I leave this on the shore for you . I pray you find it , sister , so you will know what was in my heart as I went under “.  Khalid Hosseini

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Chris’ Journal entry : September 16 , 1972

 

“I arrived three hours late for our departure and was much concerned with the possibility of hard feelings . These fears were soon dispelled and I found my friends benevolent . Our first day proved itself to be a sailing thrill tempered by unsettled stomachs and big heads . Dave and I suffered some discomfort because of the previous nights activities .

We left the port of Holland , Michigan at 11:00 am – sighted only two other sails and a cabin cruiser during the four and a half hour cruise to Grand Haven arriving at 3:35 pm . After docking , we confronted the various problems of supper , a satisfying if not epicurean feast . Hot dogs with carrots and peas washed down with some High-C orange filled the cavities that had been emptied by reverse peristaltic motion .

Dave worked on the radio antenna and we heard our first weather forecast ; gale warnings with 35 mph winds and 12 ft. seas . Needless to say we spent our time securing gear , putting on extra dock lines , trimming our new hatch boards and caulking last minute holes . I decided to shower and the others went out on the pier and came back describing nature in awesome terms .

It’s poker tonight and a welcome early sack time . I feel like calling home to let them know everything’s ok . I’m afraid I left an impression of disillusionment “.

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1972 marks a black year in history , not only because of the continuing Vietnam war or the escalation , like strong currents , of the Nixon scandal , but also a blackness due to the use of terrorism entering the sports realm like a huge octopus with the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes by Arab gunmen in September , which now links together an invisible fishing line hooking deep into the events of 9/11 . Gods world of ’72 is in turmoil … a tide of turmoil where sea anenomes are beached into colorless form : “Bloody Sunday ” in Northern Ireland , a Lufthansa jet hijacked by Palestinians , General Idi Amin beginning his reign of terror in Uganda , earthquakes of 7.7 destroying entire cities in Turkey and Nicaragua and in the Andes Mountain range , 16 survivors from a plane crash are rescued after practicing cannibalism and the following benediction is heard at a random High School Graduation ceremony :

May God bless you with discomfort ,

At easy answers , half-truths and superficial relationships ,

So that you may live deep within your heart .

May God bless you with anger

At injustice , oppression and exploitation of people ,

So that you may work for justice , freedom and peace .

May God bless you with tears

To shed for those who suffer from pain , rejection , starvation and war

So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them

and turn their pain to joy .

And may God bless you with enough foolishness

To believe that you can make a difference in this world

So that you can do what others claim cannot be done .

In the name of the Father

and The Son

and the Holy Spirit

Amen

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The music and lyrics  of Bob Dylan’s ” My Back Pages ” is heard from the distant shore , ” Ah , but I was so much older then , I’m younger than that now “.

Beatitude Point

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There is a dream , found in the attic of a memory . It is of my brother . The memory is vague like the weak signal on a radio dial . The days previous , listening in on two separate conversations , one from his daughter at a family party  and the other from my sisters ‘ husband at the Leelanau coffee shop , these conversations become the rope that knotted the year 1972 to 2014 and tightened my consciousness to the mystery of the boats ” point of sail “.

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They name her ” Venture “, a 28 foot Larsen sloop built in 1958 , and the small dinghy floating behind , ” the orange peel “. The orange fruit an ancient symbol of the sun , a symbol too of ” good luck “. Two names of paradox , one meaning to go somewhere unknown and dangerous with risk involved  and the other ” good fortune “. It was to become a poignant paradox and one that would loosen that rope from the sail boats safety of the suns’ warmth , into the depths of death.

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Chris , Dale , Buzz and my brother Dave , each being 19 or 20 years old then , boarded their shared vessel on Lake Michigan , after waiting for Chris who was usually late . It was just past noon on September 16 , 1972 , Venture bobbing gently in Holland Harbor under the protection of ” Big Red ” lighthouse . The sounds of  Deep Purple could be heard rockin in the background with ” Smoke on the Water “, as a large Bon voyage group of family , including cousins and many friends cheered them on . The mood was festive and some there would return to find their destiny together 40 years later with two of them embracing the long return of young love that had its beginnings that blue grey sky autumn day , a momentous day after the beginning of the biggest political scandal in modern times broke , Watergate , with Grand Jury indictments .

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To be continued …

photograph of girl in water by Lara Zarkoul Photography