This week marks the 60th anniversary of the Pelican disaster here on the East End and it seems worth remembering. It was an event that defined the 1950s for the people who lived here - my parents referred to it often when I was growing up. My mother was pregnant for me at the time and I'm sure like most pregnant women she was feeling more protective and concerned about her family than ever, so it surely made an impact on her psyche.
The Pelican was a party fishing boat that went out of Montauk the morning of September 2nd, overloaded with people and understocked with life jackets. The fact that it went over in a storm and only 19 of the 65 people on board survived had significance for the future of water safety. Now every boat is required to have enough life jackets on board for the number of passengers it carries. There are more stringent laws to govern activities on the water and we have all benefited by the tragedy in the safer passage of every ship at sea.
There were some heroes and many stories on the Pelican that day, all nicely retold in the book "Dark Noon" written by one of our local authors, Tom Clavin. It's a good read and worthwhile lesson in how sometimes everything that can go wrong, does. I'm a lover of history, not only for the things we learn from it, but for what I think is the importance of remembering the people and events that make us the community we are today. The Pelican should always be remembered and the people who died that fateful day deserve to be part of our memory. Let's not forget them.