Wednesday, November 15, 2017

New York: Explorers Club and David L. Brainard #explorers

WALKING ALONG East 70th Street in New York, my husband and I spotted a handsome old house with a sign, "Explorer's Club." I paused, remembering something I had researched and written about.

My husband's relative, David Legge Brainard, had been part of the Greely Expedition, which had set out to establish a metereological-observation post in the Arctic. In July of 1881, David Brainard and 24 other men led by Lieutenant Adolphus Greely, sailed on the ship Proteus to the Lady Franklin Bay. There they got stuck for three desperate years. While waiting for help, the men started dying of starvation and sickness. They would have been forgotten and abandoned in the harsh Arctic, but for the relentless lobbying of Mrs. Greeley. They were rescued in June of 1884.

The rescue party found a ragtag group of seven that had poor protection from the elements and no food. In fact, the rescue party was horrified to find evidence of cannibalism. One of the survivors died shortly after rescue, leaving six survivors, Brainard and Greely among them.

The significance of the Greely Expedition went further than the sensational news it caused at the time. David Brainard, Lt. James Booth Lockwood, amd Greenlander Hunter and Dog Sledge Driver Thorlip Frederik Christiansen made a new "farthest north" record off the coast of Greenland, stealing the title from the British. The meticulous scientific data which they gathered continues to be useful and serves as the base-data for the study of global warming.

David Brainard went on to have an accomplished military career and he also co-founded the Explorers Club in 1905.

Clearly, my husband and I had to visit the Explorers Club.

l-r: Chickie Feraren, Cecilia Brainard, Lauren Brainard, Manny Gonzalez

We made an appointment to tour the Club, and one November morning, our party of four (Lauren and Cecilia Brainard, Chickie Feraren, and Manny Gonzalez) went to the six-story Jacobean revival mansion which has housed the Explorers Club Headquarters since 1965. Before this, the Club was located at 23 West 67th Street, NYC, and 544 Cathedral Parkway. The current building, which used to the be home of Stephen C. Clark, has rich wood panels, stone fireplaces, marble columns, stained glass windows, gorgeous antique furniture and lamps, and countless artifacts of famous historic explorations, including Neil Armstrong's trip to the moon.

Left: Lacey Flint

We were met by the Explorers Club's Archivist and Curator of Research Collections, Lacey Flint, a very welcoming, intelligent, knowledgeable woman who showed us around the different rooms of the Club. She had pulled out files and pictures of David Legge Brainard and allowed me to take pictures of many of the documents, which I will post in a separate blog.

Lauren with the cover of a sperm whale penis

She pointed out interesting artifacts: the sled used in the Peary Expedition to the North Pole; the Explorers Club flag, which Neil Armstrong flew to the moon; the jacket of the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin; the cover of a sperm whale penis; four tusks of a rare African elephant, a block of wood from the Kon Tiki, and many more.

Lacy made sure we understood that David Legge Brainard was just as famous as other honored members of the Explorers Club such as Neil Armstrong, Charles Lindbergh, President Herbert Hoover, Jane Goodall, Amelia Earhart, and Margaret Mead. She showed us the wall with pictures of these famous people; and there was David Brainard's picture standing on the case.

We had a fascinating and enchanting time at the Explorers Club. The place made me feel as if I'd stepped into another time and place, the world of Indiana Jones perhaps. I had a glimpse into the worlds of men and women who were courageous and intelligent, who (to quote Star Trek) dared "to boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before."

I hope you enjoy the pictures I took at the Explorers Club.

David Legge Brainard

Jacket of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin

Photo of Man on the Moon, by Neil Armstrong. Note that the image of Neil Armstrong taking this photo is reflected on the head mask.  

An Explorers Club Flag, one of many carried by explorers to far off places.

The four-tusks of the elephant are in the back of Lacey Flint.

Tags: Explorers Club, Greely Expedition, Polar Expedition, Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, David Brainard, Arctic, explorers, Greely, Brainard, Greenland, North Pole #adventure #exploration

Read also
David L. Brainard (Wikipedia)

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