Stories hold a force that can transcend life.
Few have the power of the tale of Robert Rosendahl, World War II vet who survived the Bataan Death March, and his boat.
Rosendahl died at age 98 on Feb. 2. The love of his life, Bettie, had died 40 days prior on Christmas Day 2019.
But that is not the end of this story.
Six men in their 60s, including Rosendahl’s son Eirik, plan to fulfill Rosendahl’s dream of finishing the boat — that he first started to build in the early 1980s — and sail it to Tahiti in the South Pacific.
For decades, the boat has sat unfinished on the lawn of the Rosendahl home near Golden Avenue and Republic Road.
After Pokin’s first story on the boat ran in 2015, I looked for the boat when I was driving through that area. It was a bit hidden amongst trees, but I spotted it from time to time. When I didn’t think it was on Scenic Avenue just to the east and look for it there.
Golden has become one of our preferred bike riding routes, so I passed that boat a bunch this year. It’s easier to spot as some of the woods around it have been pared back. And I knew that one day soon, something that I’d seen in my few years in Springfield, something whose history I knew (thanks to Steve Pokin), would be gone. The house would be sold, perhaps razed for a business or multifamily housing, and a bit of Springfield lore lost forever.
If it’s going to go, though, I am glad it will be used as the former owner intended.