MARSHFIELD – It was standing-room-only at the Ventress Memorial Library this past Wednesday. Like nothing we ever expected, the premiere of the first installment of Hit and Run History: The Columbia Expedition went off with a bang.
The short documentary film is a pilot, meant to secure full-funding for a 13-episode series on the first American circumnavigation of the globe. I've been on the trail of this story since 1995, beginning with research for my novel The Bostoner.
Guest started to arrive at 6:40 PM, well before the show was to begin. We started setting up more chairs than the original 30. By 7 PM, my assistant director, Matt Griffin was giving me the "go" sign to start, but looking out the door, I saw more people coming. More chairs. More people. Finally, at 7:10 Mark Schmidt, director of the the Historical Winslow House (co-sponsor of the event with the library) introduced me.
Because we've done something different with Hit and Run, we thought it necessary to give our audience an idea of my background and what they should expect to see. Not a purely polished, ready for broadcast gem, but rather a new approach to talking about history. A lot of that has to do with the local connection.
In Marshfield, Hit and Run History spoke with Krusell and Bates, local experts about shipbuilding on the North River. The ship Columbia was built in 1773 at Hobart’s Landing, on the Scituate side of the North River. Rebuilt in 1787 and rechristened Columbia Rediviva (“Columbia Reborn”), it was purchased by a syndicate in Boston to be the flagship of this first global trading venture of the new American Republic.
After the film, Harwich's Kane Stanton read the letter of charge to Captain John Kendrick by Joseph Barrell, senior partner of the syndicate. This then led into a very intense and rewarding question and answer session with the audience. It also gave me a chance to introduce Don Ritz, chair of the Hull Historic District Commission, who so indulgently squired me around Nahant for filming last fall, as well as the rest of my crew there: Jay Sheehan and Alex Schwantner.
At the close of the program, Mark told us that the final tally was 62 in attendance - double our original projection, and more than the capacity of the room. After many months of hard work and sacrifice, this incredible reception and response from the South Shore was a immensely gratifying.
We now look forward, after a brief hiatus, to our Cape Cod premiere at the Brooks Free Library on May 17th at 2 PM. Then it is onto the Wareham Free Library on May 20th at 6 PM, and the Orleans Historical Society on the 24th at 7 PM.
This project was awarded Massachusetts Cultural Council Grants by the Marshfield Cultural Council and Wareham Cultural Council. For more information, visit www.hitandrunhistory.com or the Hit and Run History fan page on facebook.