Every wonder why we have Christmas Trees? The ornament above partially answers that question - it is one of my favorite ornaments on the tree. We are a HUGE theatre family, and "The Christmas Schooner" is a musical that our family participated in four times and is based on a true story. The next three paragraphs are extracted from a newspaper ( I think the Petoskey News & Review) article:
"The Christmas Schooner" premiered at Bailiwick Repertory Theater in the mid-1990s and received the 1996 Chicago After Dark Award for outstanding new work. The musical is based on the true story of the Rouse Simmons, a Great Lakes schooner whose captain, named Peter Stossel in the play, literally puts his life on the limb to transport fir trees from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Chicago's German immigrants during the late 19th century. Notable songs from the musical include "We All Have Songs," "Pass it On," "What is it About the Water?," "Winterfest Polka," "Questions," and "Hardwater Sailors."
The ship sank during an icy storm Nov. 22, 1912. "The Christmas Schooner" also tells the love story of Peter and his wife, Alma, who is understandably critical of the trecherous journey year after year, but comes to ultimately understand the power of The Christmas Schooner's mission.
Read about the (Click on the title) Legend of the Christmas Tree Ship, the Rouse Simmons, whose captain, Herman Schuenemann, perished in the Great Lakes and whose story might have ended there, if not for his wife, Barbara Schueneman. Barbara and her daughters took to the Great Lakes in a new ship and delivered Christmas trees to Chicago for another 22 years.
The following link is a video of the year after we left Petoskey, and many of our friends are in this version. There is also a bit of the true history explained. The music is beautiful and if you have a production of this going on near you, please consider buying tickets.
I believe the following information is still correct:
“Songs from The Christmas Schooner” Lyrist & Music by Julie Shannon. $15.00 available by emailing LMAMusic@aol.com or Calling (847-256-0112 or
Can purchase by mail by sending a check or credit card number to: William Geller, 2116 Thornwood, Wilmette, IL 60091
The photos below are from one of the shows. My daughter is in the purple dress and my son and husband are the two behind the captain's wheel.