Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Explorer's Club, the Legacy Society and Amelia Earhart

I have of course come up with a way to tie things up. And I want it to begin in the year 1978 at the Explorer's Club in Upper Manhattan. I want Muriel there, giving a talk. However, digging a little deeper into this, I find that the club didn't admit women as members till 1981. Interesting since Amelia Earhart is a member of their Legacy Society, I'm guessing this was something that was done after her death but who knows, the club's been around since 1904. Its home is a red brick building, and inside there are artifacts from expeditions to the North and South pole, plus more than a few dead, taxidermified animals; a polar bear, a cheetah. It features wood paneling on the walls and ceilings, leather armchairs and couches, and exudes a certain Teddy Roosevelt macho scent, even via photography. I find it the perfect place for our women, Muriel and young Sam to meet for the very first time and begin their journey together. It's a bastion of male ascension and assumption, even in 1978.

I think Muriel will acknowledge this slyly and Sam more directly, after all she's brash and young and there for her own research. Muriel is there to give a talk and she wants to do right by her sister but is also prone to giving in to convention. She's strong willed but also a bit strait-laced. I look forward to this encounter, the one that precipitates everything in the book, the one that sets the train of events in motion and leads to Amelia's resurrection.

And I look forward to these two strong willed women teaming up in the presence of so many assertive and opinionated males. Or as someone very wise once said, "Time to rock and roll."


  1. Thank you so much. Astonishing isn't it? 1981 before they let women in, I guess we were doing the dishes and cleaning house till then. You know, Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth, etc, etc, etc, oh yes and Amelia Earhart.

  2. I can hardly wait for this scene. Hee hee!

    It does raise an interesting question. GP, as you know, was a member of the Explorers' Club. I wonder if he disagreed with its males-only membership policy? Or maybe he and AE didn't make an issue of it because she had the Women Geographers Society, which had interesting women explorers in its membership, like Osa Johnston and Margaret Mead.

  3. P.S. I just remembered, AE gave a talk for the Explorers' Club one evening in the early 30's -- probably about her Atlantic solo, and most likely it was arranged by GP. Muriel must feel a special pang of something -- standing there giving a talk just like her sister did 47 or so years before, in the same place and to some of the same people.

  4. What a place, my husband scouted it long ago and when I was thinking about how to tie the two threads together it popped into my mind again. There are photos online, perhaps I'll pull some . . .there's a trophy room upstairs. God, from out of the mists of time. It actually reminds me in a good way of what the Museum of Natural History used to look like back when I was very small. Thanks as always for your comments. . .

  5. Yes, do show us some of those photos.