‘Gordon’s Stroll’ recalls Native American deaths at Indian Leap in Ludlow

SPRINGFIELD — When Gerard C. O’Brien was 14, he went to the library in Indian Orchard to learn more about the village’s history for a Citizenship in the Community Merit Badge he was working on.

He found information about Indian Leap, a cliff 75 feet below Wallamanup’s Falls in Ludlow where it is said that a party of Native Americans led by chief Roaring Thunder were surprised by settlers during the King Philip’s War. They leaped from the precipice and died in the Chicopee River

O’Brien has written a children’s book, “Gordon’s Stroll,” based on a telling of the story in a 19th-century poem. The children’s book was illustrated by Natalie Schloesser and recently released by Page Publishing Inc.

“The book is a condensed retelling of Gordon Fisk’s 1844, 63-stanza poem ‘Indian Leap’ or ‘The Great Cove’ actually written for a blind man,” O’Brien said. “It recounts an evening stroll Gordon takes only to encounter spirits of the river and Wa-hau-waugh, one spirit from the past, who shares with Gordon what misfortune has happened to his tribe of him in the Ludlow Indian Orchard Leap area.”

The poem may be found in “The History of Ludlow, MA” by Alfred Noone.

“I heard this verbal tale over the years and wondered like everyone else if it was true,” O’Brien said. “About 8 to 10 years back I discovered Gordon’s Fisk’s poem… while reading the history of Ludlow. I then decided to condense his poem by him and retell the legend in a children’s book form.

A retired physical education teacher in the Springfield Public Schools, O’Brien self-published a small children’s book in 2005, “The Donkey’s Ear,” about a child’s nativity set contest.

In 2003, he self-published a 200-page personal narrative, “The Water Still Ahead” and a book of religious poems in 2013, “Endless Drops.”

O’Brien has written a children’s book, “Gordon’s Stroll” is written by Gerard C. O’Brien and illustrated by Natalie Schloesser. (Page Publishing Inc.)

The author suggests the book for children especially ages 9-10.

“My grandson read it and enjoyed it with interest, aged 10. Another grandson, nearly 9, also read it with interest, especially the illustrations,” he said.

The book’s message, he said, is universal: Accept the differences of other cultures. Practice kindness. Learn peaceful coexistence. Trouble begins when one person, group or people feel they are of more worth than others.

According to O’Brien, it’s important for parents to read to children as a way of bonding, showing love and mutually enjoying a book.

“My wife, Eva, always read to our children before bed, and they enjoyed it immensely,” he said. “Better yet, she would take them to the library and fill up a large library bag with books so they could read to themselves. And when that was done, it was back to the library for more.”

O’Brien will have book signings Saturday, June 4, at Hubbard Library in Ludlow from 10 am to noon and at the Indian Orchard Citizen’s Council from 1 to 3 pm

“Gordon’s Stroll,” is sold online at Amazon, Walmart and Barnes & Noble, as well as at Pleasant Snack Bar at 174 Main St., Indian Orchard, and East Street Coffee Company on 135 East St., Ludlow.

The hardcover ‏book has‎ 36 pages and retails for $27.95, while the soft-cover is priced at $17.95.

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