In 1995, soon after my birthday, my parents got on a big Edmund Fitzgerald kick because the newspapers were noting the 20th anniversary. They talked about how great the song was and how sad and big of a deal it was that the ship went down. I sat there with a blank face and knew not what they were discussing. For some reason, this sent them into extreme disbelief.
"C'mon! You remember it. It went down right after your birthday."
"The song was everywhere on the radio. Everywhere. Right near your birthday."
"How can you not remember? It was the only thing on the news or the tv."
I just knew nothing about it. I understand that kids in Michigan and Wisconsin learn about the ship in grade school, but the Chicago punks never did as far as I could tell. As much as it is a Great Lakes story and Chicago is a Great Lakes town, Chicago is big and broad shouldered enough to really not care too much about what happens up in that place where you go to drink Old Style and fish. Sure we care, but not enough to incorporate it into our schooling. I'd like to think we were studying some denser, more urban information, but that is probably not true. Suffice to say, St Nick's didn't preach the gospel of Big Fitz.
My parents frustration grew to such silly heights until I finally popped the balloon.
"What year did it go down?" I scanned the article. "Oh, I don't remember it because I was 6 days old."
"And the song was a big hit the next year, when I was 1."
So the tension lifted and we all ended up with a chuckle. I was alive and it was on the news, so why shouldn't I remember it?
"Well, you remember everything else that ever happened."
Over the years I have actually become quite fascinated by the story, even visiting the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in the UP (a place I cannot more highly recommend visiting).
So as today's headlines tell of the (now 35th) anniversary of the sinking, I chuckle at the frustration of my parents at our kitchen table in 1995 and listen to this killer track many, many times.