While checking the mail a couple days back, I was surprised when a small envelope stamped "Air Mail" from Arizona poked its way out from between the usual coupon booklets and real-estate flyers. Not knowing anyone from Arizona, I rushed upstairs and opened it.
Inside was a little card adorned with a black-and-white image of a small bird standing next to a cactus. I opened it, revealing a handwritten message from a descendant of Amund Eidsmoe, who had been aboard the ill-fated steamer Atlantic when it sank after a collision with another ship in 1852. The Atlantic is one of the four wrecks I wrote about in Lake Erie Stories. The note was from one of Eidsmoe's descendants (you can read more about them here) whom, I belatedly remembered, I had sent a free copy for his help with my research. He had received the book, he wrote, and had quickly flipped to his forebear's story.
"You did well with the story of the Atlantic, and Amund Eidsmoe's family. I will treasure this book."
When those who trusted me with their family's history are moved to make such gracious comments, everything else is gravy, really. And I'm delighted that I could play a small part in helping Eidsmoe's story find new life. In the end, I guess, it is why we go to all the trouble of writing these books in the first place.