09 April 2010

Remembering Philip

I got to go to Governor's Island today to location-scout for The Mate's next film (I'm not allowed to tell more). Mike, the Parks Service guy who gave us the tour, was incredibly knowledgeable about the military history of the island, which has housed fortifications of one sort or another since right after the Revolutionary War.

It got me to remembering my cousin Philip, who loved military history and loved to take anyone who would listen to one island fort or another in the waters off the Maine coast in his little outboard-motor boat. Philip was a few years older than I was, and I loved being able to tag along on outings I wouldn't have been able to do on my own.

The Maine forts Philip took me to were either unfinished or abandoned or both (even before 9/11 you couldn't just walk right up to an active military installation), and there was one occasion where a board laid across a two-story-high opening gave way, and Philip had a bad fall.

The coast guard had to take him off that island, and we got a long ride across Casco Bay, all the way to Maine Medical Center in Portland, and afterward he was convinced I had saved his life. But later on cancer took him, far too soon.

Today, listening to Mike talk about Fort Jay and Castle Williams, on Governor's Island, and pointing across the water to Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island and Castle Clinton on Manhattan and Fort Wood on Liberty Island, and rattling off information about those and other harbor structures, it was like old days.

Philip, I miss you.