The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #8054   Message #49220
Posted By: DonMeixner
12-Dec-98 - 10:38 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Mary Ellen Carter (Stan Rogers)
Subject: RE: Wanted: background to 'The Mary Ellen Carter'
Dear Susanne,

I can't give you any background on the Mary Ellen Carter specifically because I don't believe there is any to give. I can tell you about the type of men, and perhaps women, in the song tho'. Until I was forced to quit because of injury and the business going south I was a boat builder. We built fishing boats for the North East waters off New England. The men who worked these boats were, to use a cliche ridden phrase, a bred a part. They would work long hours on decks that were never level or stable. Risk losing fingers or worse in equipment that could tear off a hand as fast as it could pull you overboard. They could be constantly wet and cold and live on coffee and sandwiches and Dinty Moore stew for several days with the only hope of pay being a share in the haul. The largest percent going to the owner of the boat. ( Not always the skipper) Now a days the coastal fishing boat is often owned by a corporation. The crews are often groups of guys who work together well and maybe doing the only job they know or ever knew. They put their faith and lives in boats to get them home and become attached to them. Thats why the crew in this song went after the boat. They went to rescue the boat an return it to shore just as you or I might stand in the door to our burning houses with the garden hose, even if their was no hope. I think the song was as much about not giving up as it was a tribute to this type of person who should know better but is too stubborn to quit even with the bends. I know salvagers who have raise wrecks and fisherman who have pulled up sunken hulls because that was how they made their living. Was there a Mary Ellen Carter? I doubt it but there very well could have been. I can tell you there are people like those in the song. I've worked along side them.

Don Meixner