The Secret of the Desert Ship
February 21 – February 23, 1980
“The Secret of the Desert Ship” is based on two historical realities; one, a man who once lived in Ann Arbor, and the other, a legend of the West which still exists today.
In 1849 a man named Caleb Ormsby left Ann Arbor to seek his fortune in the gold mines of California. The play opens with young Caleb bidding farewell to his family and friends in Ann Arbor in 1849. However, Caleb is not heading for gold mines but is pursuing the legend of the “Ship in the Desert” and its treasure.
The “Ship in the Desert” legend is a most unusual story of treasure from the West. The ship, a Spanish Galleon, is supposably loaded with pearls and has been missing for more than three centuries. The ship has been seen several times, only to be covered, time and time again, by the desert’s shifting sands. Many believe the ship is still there, waiting to be found.
Combining these bits of history with a large dose of fiction, the play follows Caleb’s descendent, Curly Ormsby, Vern LaTrek, and other students and teachers from Thirsty Elementary School to the desert, a ghost town, a real old time saloon, even a sand storm, and then back to Ann Arbor for a rather surprising conclusion.