In light of The Mystery of the Marie lecture being canceled, Greg Gorga, our Executive Director, interviewed Teresa Newton-Terres over the phone, and we wanted to share their conversation:
Can you give me a short synopsis of what happened here in Santa Barbara nearly 60 years ago?
On June 7, 1960, seven men (including Teresa’s father, Diego Santos Terres, Jr.) kissed their sweethearts goodbye and headed on a small vessel, the Marie, for Santa Cruz Island. What happened next we don’t fully know. Only four of the seven bodies found, and the boat was never recovered. These were mostly local boys. Four of them went to Santa Barbara High School, one was from Los Angeles, another from North Carolina and an eminent Scientist.
What is your most vivid memory of that time?
I was only two-years old at the time. No one talked to the children about it then. I do remember my mother taking me away from home in the middle of the night during that time, we went to a family cabin. I was angry, it felt like we were escaping. Think about it, the adults didn’t even know what had happened, so how could they explain it to a two-year old girl? No one talked about it. So many emotions were left unresolved and questions unanswered.
What did you learn during your research for the book?
Everyone was asking the same questions about this incident- what happened? All the families still had open wounds; it wasn’t just me. And more questions were raised as my journey of discovery progressed. I found that it is important not to lose yourself as you search for answers. Every adult asks questions about their childhood. Some of our recollections are accurate, and some are misconceptions. I found some peace in gaining a mature perspective.
What questions remain unanswered for you?
What happened? We still don’t know. Who was the contract holder? (The public story is that the boat left Santa Barbara Harbor that day to do scientific tests with an underwater infra-red communications device). This was a Raytheon-related project, but other entities were involved. There was a Special Ops rescue operation out on the ocean after the shipwreck- what did they recover?
Anything else you’d like to add?
The story told in “Mystery of the Marie” contains a lot of mystery, but it is also the story of life. There are a lot of good actions by people, even in this tragic event. I learned we don’t find all the answers in life. There is still more to learn in this story, especially concerning Dr. Niel Freeborn Beardsley, the eminent physicist, who was the lead scientist on this project.