Monday, October 3, 2016


A few of our cherubs. 
"But what'll we do for our Three-Peats?"

"We'll take 'em to Chatham! All we need is us and a bus." 

"Okay, when you just said 'us and a bus,' I started to get choked up. That's perfect."

Five years ago we wondered if the administration would let us take our readers to see a movie. This year, we sought permission to take 58 middle-schoolers to Chatham, Massachusetts.

And they said yes.

Chatham, a quaint, touristy beach town nestled on the Atlantic coast was the setting for The Finest Hours, the real-life story of the most daring rescue in US Coast Guard history...and it is less than a two-hour drive from our middle school. Sometimes life hands you a gift and you need to smile and accept it with gratitude. We Crazy Reading Ladies knew what we had to do.
One of the best days, period.
Kids remember the wonderful stuff. In their time at HMMS, our 8th graders had watched Three-Peats attend the Boston premiere of Divergent and have their very own luau in honor of Unbroken's Louie Zamperini. Now it was their turn.

Waiting to climb the lighthouse.
Crafting a special experience for our Three-Peats has - very quickly - shot to the top of our yearly to-do list. We need to honor the kids who stuck with us for three years. We need to validate the 8th graders who deemed reading a book worthy of their time and social risk. We need to celebrate their success and show them what they mean to us. This year yielded fifty-eight Three-Peats. We were ridiculously excited to plan this for them and managed to keep it under wraps for months.

Though the trip itself was a surprise, the kids knew something big was coming. In our school "Three-Peat" is part of the kids' vernacular. Bestowed on the 8th graders who have gone All In! each year of middle school, it's a title which many strive to attain - some even set it as a personal goal from the time they enter our building and step into the midst of our crazy. Occasionally, when we walk the halls of our neighboring elementary school, kids will stop us and say things like, "I can't wait to go All In!" or "My brother is a Three-Peat! And I'm gonna be just like him!" Our kids deserved this.

So on May 20, we loaded a bus and took 'em to Chatham.

The weather was picture-perfect summer-gorgeous. We visited the Atwood House and Chatham Historical Society where we became the very first to view the Rescue of the Pendelton exhibit, made especially to commemorate the events surrounding The Finest Hours.

We marveled at a three-hundred year-old house, viewed collections of seashells and pottery, and fingered shoes and dresses worn centuries ago - by obscenely tiny women.

We picnicked on the beach, where the sight of 58 teens tossing their shoes aside and racing to the ocean made tears fall silently behind our CRL sunglasses. We watched kids skip rocks, turn cartwheels, and play football. We saw them take selfies and examine crab shells and write "All In!" in the sand.
Three-Peats hit the beach in Chatham.
We pointed out the Chatham bar where, in the middle of a nor'easter sixty-four years earlier, Bernie Webber and his crew braved the breaking waves and rocky terrain to cross into the open ocean and save those stranded aboard the lifeless Pendelton.
"36500 this is station Chatham, do you read me?"
Don St. Pierre - keeper of CG36500 - came to meet our kids.

We visited the US Coast Guard station and touched the walls and walked the floors where the real heroes had lived and breathed and worked. We climbed the lighthouse steps, conquering fears and feeling - if only for a moment - like we were at the top of the world.

There she is! CG36500.
And we saw the boat. Through a beautiful twist of fate - perhaps we have Bernie himself to thank - the CG36500 was in Chatham that day getting a new coat of paint for her upcoming summer outings on the Cape. We spoke to men whose names and faces we recognized from the book and let our hands hear the story again as we walked around the boat. For real.

To our Three-Peats: we love you.
It was one of those days spent in celebration of good. There was magic and joy and laughter everywhere we turned that day. And it was another for which we had no words. Without verbalizing it, we both felt like there was so much wrapped up in that day. Another year, our fifth successful All In!, Mary's new administrative position, and the sight of her daughter taking her place among the Three-Peats.

After a year filled with so much change, it was beautiful to know that some things stay the same. We wiggled our toes in the sand and looked around. The Crazy Reading Ladies aren't going anywhere. We'll always have each other. As long as we have our kids and a good book - as long as we have us and a bus - we'll all be okay.