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Story Keepers Books

The Historic Christmas Tree Ship by Rochelle Pennington (Signed)

The Historic Christmas Tree Ship by Rochelle Pennington (Signed)

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All aboard the Christmas Tree Ship!

Author Rochelle Pennington has written two books detailing one of the most well-known shipwrecks of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan's Christmas Tree Ship, which delivered holiday evergreens to the citizens of Chicago each Christmas season before it went to the bottom of the lake fully loaded with trees. The captain’s wife, Barbara, along with their three daughters, then carried on for over twenty years afterward in honor of “Captain Santa” and in the spirit of everything he believed in. The ship is still loaded with its cargo today and is a popular Great Lakes dive site.

"It is a story which exemplifies the best of humanity," said Pennington. "At its heart we find courage, love, generosity, heroism, and the importance of family. The moment I first heard the story of the Christmas Tree Ship, I understood why it had endeared itself to so many people over the years and was still being shared a century later."

"The ship's final voyage was not to the bottom of the lake," added Pennington, "but into the pages of history."

The true account of Captain Schuenemann and his schooner is considered the “most loved story of the Great Lakes” over the past century. The story has inspired paintings, poems, six different Christmas Tree Ship songs, television programs, a musical performed all over the country titled “The Christmas Schooner,” and a “new” Christmas Tree Ship sailed by the Great Lakes Coast Guard each holiday season as a living memorial.

Pennington's initial book on the ship, The Christmas Tree Ship: The Story of Captain Santa, is an "all-age" summary of the story and includes vintage photographs complemented by the nautical artwork of famed painter Charles Vickery. Pennington's follow-up documentary book, The Historic Christmas Tree Ship: A True Story of Faith, Hope and Love, is a 325-page expansion of the story and examines the legendary ship from every angle. The book includes more than 60 photographs, along with hundreds of citations from century-old newspaper clippings spanning a period of 140 years.

Pennington's research was used to create a television program on The Weather Channel's Storm Stories. The program airs nationally each December (since 2004). The author is interviewed repeatedly during the documentary.

The author is available for speaking engagements at schools, libraries, museums, historical societies, and for civic organizations. Her power-point presentation includes many of the century-old photographs of Captain "Santa" Schuenemann, his family, and his ship. In addition, she brings several artifacts along with her to share with the audience, including an axe used to chop trees down, dishes, a medicine bottle, a spittoon, a clay pipe, an ornament carved from one of the first Christmas trees raised from the ship in 1971 when the vessel was discovered, and an actual Christmas tree from the cargo. Underwater photos of the ship with its trees still visible in the cargo area are included with the program as well.

Pennington's verbal presentation focuses on many of the little-known facts surrounding the story, including the ship's mysterious disappearance, clues washed ashore in the decades following the vessel's demise, ghost ship sightings of the phantom schooner, and mysterious omens believed to have cursed the ship immediately before it set sail on its final voyage on November 22, 1912.

** Signed **

Goodreads: 4.11

Paperback, 2004

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