Thursday, April 3, 2014


April 3 - Al Thiele with a few of the many photos and
momentos from 32 years of Coast Guard service.
Washington Island, Wisconsin -

This posting won't be about Al Thiele, shown in the photo above, taken this morning.  That blog is yet to come.

In a time of year when there aren't many spring photo opportunities, however, no daffodils or tulips poking their heads above the earth in this part of Wisconsin, Al's story emerges like the freshness that is spring.

When we visited approximately one year ago at Al's home for an interview, to talk about Al's career in the U. S. Coast Guard, he was a very sick man.  He had recently received a diagnosis that, had he not questioned his options more carefully, would have provided him a new address at School House Beach Cemetery rather than his home on Swenson Road.  But question he did.  Following a trip to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion, and a fairly routine medical procedure(s), along with faith that his health would improve, Al and his wife, Nancy, continue to enjoy life with their friends, children and grandchildren.

A more detailed piece on Al and his rise from Seaman to top enlisted man, Master Chief of the Coast Guard, will be coming later this month.  It's an interesting story, and one that should be published and introduced to the Island Historical Archives now, and not as a posthumous contribution.

Helene Meyer continues to improve

Word of Helene Meyer's steady recovery continues to be received on Washington Island.  Following a very serious auto crash, Helene's guarded condition initially could only be considered a long and upward climb.  And yet, while we are assured her situation is no picnic, she continues to mend, as breaks in her bones begin to heal.  Her mind and her disposition have escaped trauma, it seems, and she's been asking for books to read, activity to occupy her mind while the physical mending takes place.

So, it wasn't surprising to see a photo taken recently of Helene, her arms outstretched, welcoming a photographer.  Cards may now be welcomed, a way to enhance her day in addition to expressing our concerns and gratitude.

You may send your cards to:   (the address given below was updated 4/4/14 to reflect Helene's move from the hospital to this recovery center - another sign of progress)

Helene Meyer
Rennes Health & Rehab Center
325 East Florida Ave.
Appleton, WI  54911

Not an April's fool joke

I avoided producing a blog on April 1st because, I thought, some readers might confuse validity with bogus information.

But, now, I want to express my genuine thanks for your faithful readership, both ferrycabinnews Followers and occasional readers.  The fact that there are hits from just about every continent and country on the globe, as shown on the revolving Globe, I'd have to guess that many of these visits are accidental blog landings.  On the other hand, I also know there are intentional readers from exotic locations, and some are friends who live in or visit these places.  Each such visitor, in my mind, produces a special "ping" of distinction.

Yesterday, just before the noon whistle blew for lunch, my Globe meter turned the 100,000 mark.  Now, if that individual (Mr. or Mrs. 100,000) can identify themselves as being the 100,000th visitor, and offer me reasonable proof, I'll buy them a hot dog and soda at the Jackson Harbor Time Out Concession in July.  (I was visitor 100,103... so that number is taken.)

This "blog site visitor tally" began, if I recall correctly, about three years ago when the counter with globe was introduced to my site.  This was several years after I began the blog.  While there must be some weblogs that get this many hits on a daily basis, for me 100,000 represents a milestone.  I remember back to March of 2008, following the inaugural posting, how I was thrilled just to reach 20 readers.  And that number grew, but mostly on days when fresh, new blogs were posted.

Gradually, over several years' time, the hits counter crept to the 40-50/day range, then 75-80/day, and finally, 100 or more hits on a regular, daily basis.  All-time peak activity came in early March of this year, with over 1400 hits in one 24-hour period.  That was when the U. S. Coast Guard helicopter landed in deep snow on the Island's eastern shore, a precautionary landing, then was removed on trailer the following day.

I know many readers are brought to my site by Facebook mentions, a social media phenomena that I've not paid much personal attention to.  I have to acknowledge Facebook's power to get word out quickly about people and events.  Social networking's just not been my cup of tea.

Maybe the next 100,000 hits will come more quickly.  It really doesn't matter, except to salve my ego when I get discouraged.  (The inverse also happens.  I get down when the hits don't rise to my expectations.)   I track blog hits on a daily basis to see what topics or presentations strike people's fancy, and in this endeavor I still can't predict what captures people's interest most intensely.  Postings I consider "duds," not much more than filler,  sometimes get higher responses than those I've worked on the hardest, proud to finally hit the "publish" button.

Blog comments have also increased, and perhaps that's a better measure of the reader's interest.  It lets me know people are quite engaged in a variety of topics related to Washington Island.

In a round-about way, I believe that by providing this tether to the Washington Island community, the occasional blogs, means something to people.  It may even be that blogs, communications about the Island, have helped steer decision making for those considering buying land or settling down here in retirement, rather than some other community.   It works in this way as a soft marketing tool for the local economy, tying together people through positive attributes of community life on this small island.

Of course, there are many who don't read this blog, or who seldom look at the internet, and they may reach similar conclusions from entirely different sets of information.  Its hard to measure the reach, but I have this feeling, and it's based on pieces of conversation and correspondence.  (That's why I also believe its important to have a good Island newspaper, the Island Observer, and it can serve a real purpose beyond the delivery of 'hard' news.)

Another by-product of this blog is that it keeps me closer to the streets, the woods and harbors, especially now that I'm in a semi-retirement mode.  Thinking on paper, informing, entertaining myself and others - whatever it is people might find worthwhile in reading such posts - requires continual consideration of Island events, politics, history and its future.

As the list of blog Followers and site visitors continues to grow, so does my sense of responsibility to provide columns worthwhile to read.

And the best part, of course, is that it's free to the reader!  No pop-up ads or distracting, crashing videos.  But, those might be directions to consider for another day.

Thanks for your continued interest!  -    Dick Purinton

A peak rose from the plain of the average daily readership in early March.


Tony Woodruff said...

Congrats on this milestone! Many thanks for your continued efforts in documenting the pulse of life here on the Island. As we emerge from the grip of winter, I look forward to more of your informative and reflective observations of the people, events, and the beauty of nature that so enrich us.

Bill Tobey said...

Ditto Tony's comments Dick! I'm a "regular" to your blog and to the webcams where I noted movement of Roen's big crane boom yesterday. Hopefully it can get into action soon. Since you mentioned the Observer, I have to say that the current owners are doing a wonderful job there.

Thank you a bunch for your continued thoughtful and interesting blogging!

Marc M said...

Apparently ready to report for duty again, I'm sure of it.

Good message Al

Capt. Sparks