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Snapshot: Gene Fortine, '52, MS '53

Pilgrims' Recess

Glenn Matsumura

When Gene Fortine, a 13th-generation Mayflower descendant, and his wife, Pat (Jones, ’53), talk to third-graders in Castro Valley about the pilgrims each Thanksgiving, they have to convince the kids that they are not “at least 100 years old” and that, no, they did not travel on the Mayflower themselves. Neither did their clothes, but the pilgrim apparel is as close to authentic as possible—put together by the dress department at Plimouth Plantation. “We use that to explode some myths,” says Fortine, who served from 1999 to 2002 as governor general of the 37,000-member General Society of Mayflower Descendants. “My hat does not have a buckle on it—that would’ve been a waste.” The hats without buckles apparently make an impression on the kids. “When I get thank-you notes that seems to be the one thing that sunk in.”

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