This puts me in mind of an extraordinary night, which still holds a place in my mind as one of those magical evenings which one never forgets.
A good many years ago, about 1961 or 1962 I think, I was spending the night with my cousin Johnny and his family in Southern Illinois. We spent the evening in our usual pursuits, just talking about whatever came to mind ~~ a thoroughly enjoyable evening spent with family. We played the old 78s on their windup phonograph, including The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Vernon Dalhart, and many others of the string band era. Among the Vernon Dalhart songs that we played was The Wreck of the Shenandoah. It was the first time I had ever heard it. Later we spent a good while outdoors looking at the six story tall balloon satellite which was clearly visible in the night sky, looking much like a moving star ~~ certainly a very large airship, if you will.
A couple of hours later, along about midnight, we were looking through a box of miscellaneous items that Johnny had purchased at a sale the previous week. Among the items was a piece of fabric, rolled up and tied with a faded red ribbon. It was fairly heavy material as I remember it, black on one side and a shiny metallic on the other. We untied the ribbon and unrolled the fabric, which was perhaps a foot square or thereabouts. Inside was a card which identified the fabric as a piece of the airship Shenandoah. We sat there in silence for a moment not quite comprehending the enormity of it all. Even now, nearly 40 years later and almost 75 years after the event, the coincidence of the moment still holds its spell for me. It is quite possible that we were the only ones to play the song that particular evening, and most certainly the only ones to play it, then to hold in our hands a piece of that very airship a few hours later.