I have long been fascinated with the story of the Endurance and Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated voyage to the South Pole. It’s one of the greatest survival stories ever told.
So when I saw in our local paper that the original lecture was being given at the Portimão Museum, complete with the original slides, I jumped all over it. Not only that, but I dragged my wife and son there, too. My wife wasn’t too hard a sell, as she loves such things as well, but our son is 12 and lives in a fantasy world of superheroes and video games. I thought it was time to introduce him to some real superheroes.
It was clear the moment we walked in who the intended audience was. Our son was the only child in the room, and my wife and I were the second and third youngest. But the auditorium was packed, and the audience very appreciative.
The lecturer, Geoff Selley, inherited photographer Frank Hurley’s original slides from the man who in turn inherited them from Dr. Leonard Hussey, the expedition’s meteorologist. (Hussey is also the man who, in the end, buried Ernest Shackleton.) Thus they have passed from one caretaker to another, along with some precious artifacts. In accepting these slides and artifacts, Mr. Selley has also accepted the responsibility for keeping the legacy alive.
He did an able job. I have read and enjoyed accounts of the 1914–1916 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, but to see these slides and listen to Hussey’s own words was a magical experience. The expedition set out 99 years ago, but tonight, that history was in the room with us.
I loved the whole thing, but the part that resonated most was during the Q&A, when a man raised his hand and said he’d heard this exact same lecture when he was seven years old. “It was in 1948,” he said. He’d heard it from Leonard Hussey.
Maybe, 65 years from now, our son will remember a lecture he attended when he was a child, and how it transported him to a world where real people did heroic things. I can only hope.