Calypso Club?

cousteauSome of you may remember that when we left ScienceBlogs I wrote…

“When I was much, much younger, I joined Jacques Cousteau’s Calypso Club (named affectionately after his beloved ship). Was anyone else club members? Is there still a Calypso Club? The rights and privileges of this elite club were endless. Entry was limited to any child with a few bucks to their name and a few cereal box tops. My membership packet came in with all kinds of information, patches, stickers, and certificates. Everything a young ocean explorer would need on their quest to unravel the secrets of the ocean floor. Well, except for a research vessel, support crew, scuba, and of course a film crew. In that packet was perhaps the most important thing I ever received in the mail, a Calypso Club membership card. That treasured wallet-sized laminated card stated I was an ocean explorer. At 12, I had come into my own as young mover and shaker ready to navigate the depths. But alas being caught up with the busy life of elementary school, a lack of scuba equipment and training, not living on the coast, no access to a research vessel to travel the oceans, and quite frankly knowing next to nil about the ocean, I explored through the pages of Cousteau’s monthly newsletter.”

The text above would lead one to think I firmly remembered the club, the application materials, the contents of the membership packet.  In actuality,  I don’t.  I am not even completely sure the name of the club is right. I do remember a membership card and perhaps a decal/sticker.  My friends and colleagues all remember something like the Calypso Club but of course we all disagree about the specifics.  A search of the web reveals little information (although I did find this shirt that I really want).

This topic is once again on my mind after Jay Odell, the Mid-Atlantic Marine  Program Director of The Nature Conservancy, sent this email to this weekend:

“…In reflection, I’ve always believed that the moment when I was sitting at the breakfast table at the age of 7 or 8 (1967-1968) reading the back of a cereal box, and I decided to join the Calypso Club was pivotal (in combination with all the fishing trips my grandfathers took me on).  Having lost my membership materials long ago, several times I have searched for images of those materials on the web.  I did so again today, as I was working on my first ever blog entry for TNCs new blog – Cool Green Science, and came across your posts on the same topic.

What I do remember is that it seemed a big accomplishment to join, requiring some daunting work for a youngster and I took some pride in that…probably lobbying my mom to buy the same kind of cereal over and over. I definitely remember a great day when it all came in the mail – especially the membership card and I’m pretty sure there were a pair of cheap plastic goggles (do you recall the goggles?).  I actually don’t remember the newsletter so much but my memory is not great.  So I wanted to let you know about this in case we are the only two surviving members of the Calypso club who are practicing marine science…and to see if you have ever found any of the membership materials (or pictures of them).”

So I where does this leave us.  The mention of the mask above led me to this.  This ebay entry suggests that the name of the club is Cousteau Society (1973-present) and further searching uncovered this (as well as this other thing that I want to own).  If you scroll down the author of the page mentions he received a decal in 1993 that indicates you could be a Calypso Member of the society.

All this leaves me rather confused.  I knew about the Cousteau Society , but I thought, as everyone I have met including Jay above, an actual “Calypso Club” or “Team Calypso” as well. Jay also indicated in a followup email that “The Wikipedia entry for Cousteau indicates the Cousteau Society was started much later (1973) [than 1967-68 when he was a member], and there’s a big gap in the biography during the later 60s.”

The Mission: Comment below about ANY specifics you remember.  Replicate this post.  If you have any materials, scan them and post them (or send them to me to post).  Find any information you can and provide the link to it here.  I am calling on the entire Ocean SuperTeam here (Kate and Mark, Rick, Jason, Moe and Curly, Sheril, Brian, The Grad Students at MLMLAll Those At Sea NotesDavid and Andrew (the new look of bad ass marine science on the web), KarenJives, Eric, Michael, and of course Shark Diver.

Dr. M (1605 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.





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11 comments on “Calypso Club?
  1. Benny and I were members. I remember the sticker and logo on our car. As I understand, the Cousteau family had a bit of a rift when grand dad remarried, and it’s entirely possible there were competing clubs. I know there have been licensing issues over the last 20 years.

  2. as a wee lad of 8-10 living in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, i do indeed remember begging my mom to let me join the calyspo club… i remember the swag i received: welcome letters from jacques himself (this was before i knew the dirty secrets of development departments)… best were the pages of green stamps of the calypso flag… i suspect many a library book back at my elementary school/salt mine still has random pages plastered with those stamps…

    does anyone remember The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau? the 20 volume Danbury Press ocean encyclopedia series produced in 1973 (i was 10) by the cousteau society for young members? I convinced the parents that it was a must have and spend hours reading in bed, on the floor, on the porch… i even brought the books to school to torture others with my ocean science geekery…

    i had the entire set for a time, but alas they are now scattered to the winds… although i still have volume 1, Oasis in Space, that occupies a special place on my bookshelf and in my heart…

  3. Pingback: Cool Green Science: The Conservation Blog of The Nature Conservancy » People + Fish + Wonder = Conservation

  4. Pingback: People + Fish + Wonder = Conservation @Special News Bureau

  5. Just seeing this now … sorry didn’t comment earlier … unfortunately, I do not have any more information about this to help you out. My childhood memories of Cousteau are limited to his television programs. Good luck!

  6. I cant say that I was ever part of such a society, but then again I am a girl and this just sounds like something that boys would have gone for, you see most girls just hung around with their babies and chatting about the boys. This did sound like a lot of fun and something that I would have loved to be involved into it, but maybe you should start it up again and maybe see how many of the other people still be interested.

  7. Believe it or not, I still have the complete, 1973 first edition 20 volume set of “The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau” in mint condition. I plan to put it up on e-Bay. Any interest here? – Joe

  8. As a child I was a member of the society. I loved the newsletters and especially the swag, tee shirt, stickers etc. I would love to have another Calypso tee.

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