Memories of Madaket Millie
The Egan Maritime Institute is pleased and proud to host a Gam on Thursday June 11, 7 P.M. at the historic Coffin School, 4 Winter Street, co-sponsored with the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum‘s exhibit Thoroughly Madaket Millie celebrating Nantucket’s own Mildred “Madaket Millie” Jewett. This promises to be a fun filled evening investigating the lore and legend of this island personality everyone knew of, but few actually knew. A special videotape of Millie will also be screened.
Millie was a lifelong island resident, only leaving Nantucket only a few times and spending most of her life at her grandmother’s homestead located at the mouth of Madaket’s Hither Creek. She was homeschooled for the most part, became a champion scallop shucker, and as a young child dreamed of a career in the United States Coast Guard. The American services did not accept women until the outbreak of World War II; however, Millie was declined enlistment due to health concerns and spent the rest of the war training dogs, running her ice cream stand, and watching the coast for shipwrecks, spies, and vessels in distress.
She eventually became respected by all mariners as the voice of the United States Coast Guard in Madaket, where she voluntarily ran her “West End Coast Guard Command.” Due to her 40-year dedication to the mission of the USCG, Millie was made an honorary Chief Warrant Officer-4 in 1984; the highest enlisted rank awarded, and she was presented with the Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medal. She died in 1990, receiving full military honors. Her ashes were later dropped over her Hither Creek homestead from a Coast Guard helicopter.
Millie has been featured in many magazines including articles in National Geographic, Yankee, The Boston Globe and The New York Times, and she has become a symbol of Nantucket’s independent spirit, dedication to duty, and simple living.
Nantucket residents expected to lead the Gam include Dan Drake, Maurice Gibbs, Ruthie Grieder, Clark Whitcomb, and Eileen McGrath among many others. Admission is $5 adults; $3 students; and free to Egan Maritime members.
The Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum‘s exhibit Thoroughly Madaket Millie will continue through Columbus Day. Devoted to this treasured island resident, the exhibit includes photographs, her conversations with Fred Rogers, illustrations from the children’s book Madaket Millie, and artifacts from the her ties to the USCG and to life-saving on Nantucket. The museum is located at 158 Polpis Road and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Photos Courtesy of the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum.