... In the
referenced article by William Crothers, who personally knew Captain
McCann, he gives us an interesting description of the Captain as a
man. “During his lifetime, Capt. McCann was a man of sober, almost
gaunt, expression. Rarely given to a smile, he was certainly not a
man of sour disposition.” “ Throughout the years, starting in
1928, he campaigned tirelessly by means of The Ship Modeler to
elevate and popularize the craft of ship modeling. He persistently
pleaded for more members, more contributions of material, and
increased interest.” “If ever a man devoted his heart to a cause it
was Capt. E. Armitage McCann.”
In 1933, the last issue of The Ship Modeler was published because
Captain McCann had “developed throat and chest problems”, and was
moving from Brooklyn to Ridgefield Connecticut where he hoped the
improved climate would help his condition. Captain McCann is shown
in the photo at right in 1936 or 1937.
In spite of his illness, he continued to contribute articles to
Popular Science. He completed his finest ship model and had written
the draft articles on the model in 1937. The ship was the
Confederate raider Alabama. He was to have the model photographed
for the magazine on October 7, 1937, but the day before, he died.
I have in my possession a letter to the club from John C. Hudock
dated March 21. 1996. John was planning an exhibit that he hoped
would contain examples of all of Captain McCann’s models documented
in Popular Science. In the letter, he summarizes some research he
had done by examining records of the Probate Court in the
town of Ridgefield where Captain McCann died. It was a sad story
that was revealed. Captain McCann was intestate, and he had less
than $60 in the bank when he died. He left 22 models, but not the
model of the Alabama, and a library that required 15 pages to list.
Remembering that Captain McCann died in the depths of the great
depression, it is not too surprising that the court was unable to
sell the models and the books in four years of trying. At that
point, the Court gave everything to the undertaker to compensate for
the debt he was owed. We do not know what ultimately happened to the
models. It would be a good guess that the model of the Alabama was
obtained by someone for a very low price.
Thus ends the story of a man who made great contributions to the art
and craft we all love.