Gathering of IGY Veterans at Port Clyde, Maine

July 17-20, 2008

Antarctican Society Treasurer and long-time editor of the Society's Newsletter hosted another of his infrequent gatherings at his house in Port Clyde. The purpose of this one was to bring together Antarctic veterans of the original International Geophysical Year (IGY) during the 50th anniversary of that historic global project. While this was not a formal Society event, there were a number of Society members there. By all accounts, a great time was had by all.

   The turnout was impressive!

The turnout was impressive!

Paul Dalrymple's Account

   Port Clyde Harbor

Port Clyde Harbor

We gathered in mid-coastal Maine to celebrate first that we were still somewhat alive, second, to reminisce about what, if anything, we had accomplished in Antarctica in the past fifty odd years, and third, to see if we can we use the past to help guide the Antarctican Society towards a fruitful growth. 

The IGY was well represented with Charlie Bentley, John Behrendt, Dick Cameron. Ralph Glasgal, Hugh Bennett, Paul Dalrymple, Steve Den Hartog, Tony Gow, Bob Rutford, George Denton, Ed Robinson, Ken Moulton, Bill Meserve,  Art Jorgensen, Johnny Dawson,  Jim Burnham, and Charlie Bevilacqua.  Mildred Crary, Bess Balchen Urbahn, and Barbara Honkala represented their deceased husbands.  Felise Llano, daughter of George, came with her brand new husband. And there were two pre-IGYers, as Charles Swithinbank was on the ice at Maudheim in 1949-52, and Bob Dodson was on the Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition to Stonington Island in 1947-49.


How many stations were represented?  Well, there was Little America V, Byrd, Amundsen-Scott South Pole, Ellsworth, Wilkes, McMurdo, Eights, Siple, Plateau, Vostok,  andNovolazarevskaya.   Hallett Station was not represented from the stations with a US connection during the IGY, as we only had one person there, Jim Shear, and he has been long deceased.  One of us, Rob Flint, holds a distinction that will probably never be equaled, that of wintering over at three interiors stations (Byrd, Plateau, and Vostok) .  There shouldbe an asterisk on Vostok as he worked there another summer, as well as another summer at Dumont d’Urville.

Antarcticans from the University of Wisconsin: Don Albert, Hugh Bennett, Charlie Bentley, John Clough, John Behrendt, James Robertson, Ed Robinson, Steve DenHartog (kneeling)

   Antarcticans from the University of Wisconsin: Don Albert, Hugh Bennett, Charlie Bentley, John Clough, John Behrendt, James Robertson, Ed Robinson, Steve DenHartog (kneeling)

Antarcticans from the University of Wisconsin: Don Albert, Hugh Bennett, Charlie Bentley, John Clough, John Behrendt, James Robertson, Ed Robinson, Steve DenHartog (kneeling)

Three of my colleagues from the South Pole, Class of 58, made the supreme efforts under most trying conditions. Jim Burnham came all the way from Costa Rico, even tho he could hardly stand, even with a cane, as he is in a very advanced stage of Parkinson.  Johnny Dawson came, even tho he had just completed a series of chemo treatments for lung cancer.  Art Jorgensen was given two years to live last year, but he opted to come.  Then Chet Langway came, thanks to daughter Nancy driving him here.

  Dinner At Dipnet

Dinner At Dipnet

Quite a few of our past presidents (Bob Rutford, Bob Dodson, Polly Penhale, Tony Meunier, Rob Flint, Guy Guthridge, Art Ford, Paul Dalrymple) showed up, and many other prominent scientists, including Charles Swithinbank, George Denton, Warren Zapol, Tony Gow, Mary Albert, Lou Lanzerotti, Charlie Bentley,  John Behrendt, David Marchant, Hal Bohns, Chet Langway,  Ed Robinson, Jamie Robertson, Hugh Bennett, Dick Chappell. John Clough, Dick Cameron. Steve Den Hartog, and others joined in.

There was actually quite a wide-spread of attendees.  Including wives and families, there was over a hundred in attendance.  Public Radio found out about our Gathering, and asked if they could come and interview some of our people from the IGY, and we said “Sure”.  So Barbara Boyaev came along with an engineer and interviewed some of the more prominent, who you may have already heard on Public Radio. We ourselves have a close personal Antarctic friend who just happens to be a videographer, and he recorded at least a dozen histories which will be made into a private DVD.

  Marshall Point Lighthouse

Marshall Point Lighthouse

It might be said that the Gathering was held on hallowed grounds, as the property was once owned by Russell Porter (see Herman Friis’s THE ARCTIC DIARY OF RUSSELL WILLIAM PORTER) who once went north with both Peary and Cook.  And the live music was polarized by Steve Lindsay, who had an arcticite uncle, Harry Whitney (ho authored HUNTING WITH THE ESKIMOS) , who was ably assisted on the bass by Renny Stackpole, a distant relative of the real Roald Amundsen. And as an add-on, our very own Ed Robinson, a retired Hokie professor, donned his kilts, pumped up his bags, and played his pipes as the beverages were consumed into the twilight. Even the hard-shelled Dave Bresnahan found fun and enjoyment is meeting socially with scientists who hitherto he had to be hard nosed. The last evening ended withspectacular fireworks over neighboring Tenants Harbor, which just happened to be celebrating Saint George Days that weekend.