"Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise - we cannot eat money."
Cree Indian Proverb
"What does a man need ---really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in --and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all --in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where then lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be, bankruptcy of purse or bankrutpcy of life?"
THE SLOOPS OF THE HUDSON
The book that inspired the building of the Sloop Clearwater In the early 1960's, Vic ScHwartz of Cold Spring, friend, commercial artist, and American history buff, told me that the Hudson once bad many huge sloops, some with a boom as long as "70 feet? I can't believe that." Vic loaned me a tattered copy of "Sloops of the Hudson," written by William Verplanck and Moses Collyer (Putnam, 1908). I read it through in a night.
Sloops of the Hudson may not have been great literature, but it was (and is) a fine little book. It inspired me one cold January night in 1966 to sit up until 3 a.m. typing a seven-page single-spaced letter to Vic. "Why don't we get a few hundred families together and build a life-size Hudson River sloop?" .
The idea was about as practical as a plan to build a canoe to paddle to Tahiti. In early spring, Vie Schwartz called me on the phone. I still remember our conversation clearly.
"Hey, Pete. When are we going to start building that sloop?"
"You must be kidding," I replied.
"No. I've been talking it up on the commuter train. I passed your letter around and we got a dozen people raring to go. "
I'd say the rest was history, except things like this don't happen without a lot of planning, organization, and commitment. And at the time, it seemed like a frivolous idea. The world was full of agony, the Vietnam conflict was heating up. Money was needed for all sorts of life-and-death matters. There we were, planning to build a sailboat.
It must have been an idea that was meant to take on a life of its own. In June an organizational meeting was held at the home of Alexander Sanders near Cold Spring; 150 people attended. i sang a few songs; someone passed a bat; $167 was raised. At that meeting, officers were elected to initiate the sloop project.
At our second or third meeting, we met at the home of a wealthy Hudson River resident who could have paid for the entire boat himself. He studied our proposed designs and said, "It's a beautiful boat, all right. But why do you want to sail the Hudson? I sail the Virgin Islands myself."
My fingers clenched in anger, but I didn't say anything. He had just given us our best reason for building the boat. Cleaning up a river was a cause worth fighting for. Just as absentee land-lords had ruined Europe's villages, so had we allowed some people to make a profit from the Hudson, after which they went somewhere else to enjoy clear water.
At the same meeting we made a decision to go public. It was a more far-reaching policy decision than any of us realized. The Clearwater would be everybody's boat.
On a bright sunny day in South Bristol, Maine the Clearwater was launched. Over 2,000 people crowded the Gamage Shipyard and dock on May 17, 1969. To those of us who bad been raising money for three years, it seemed like a miracle. The governor of Maine was there, as were many rank and file Maine citizens, young and old. Sloop members laid out a magnificent spread of home-made food, on tables. Several busloads of school children from Newburgh and other Hudson Valley towns helped smash a bottle of Hudson River Valley champagne on the bow. The crowd sang "This Land is Your Land" as the 100-ton bull slid into the water with a splash. It was a great day.
Last edited by bb32; 06-05-2010 at 06:44 PM.