•Editors note: This story has been serialized into six parts which will appear weekly in The Wanderer and at wanderer.com
By Rudd Wyman
In 1938, like everyone on Point Connett, the Warren family had to rebuild. Bob and Grace Warren had twins, Jack and Jill, who became my summertime pals. An older sister, Joan, won regional sailing awards; an older brother, Bob Jr., became a B-26 pilot, shot down and badly wounded over Germany, he was surgically healed by a skillful enemy doctor. Returning to Point Connett, Bob married Debbie and they sired four boys.
Jill became my favorite twin, like the sister I never had. We rode the roller coaster at Lincoln Park six times, and crashed bumper cars at the Brockton Fair.
On one July night, Jill and I prowled the Point, howling and hooting like wounded elephants waking neighbors and alerting Oman. After a homeward bound marathon, Guntha, Oman’s German Shepherd, sniffed me cowering under Peck’s Jeep. With Oman’s bright light in my eyes, I invited man and beast next door to my folk’s house, lit up like a casino. With Mom and Dad in Bermuda, Oman accepted and suggested future primate behavior in moderation, while Guntha snored. Jill escaped.
In the early 1940s, the threat of German submarines passing through Buzzards Bay became a reality and for several months, the Coast Guard maintained scrutiny and security from our summer home. Nightly blackouts interrupted early evening cocktail and bridge parties. Dad bought a surplus Navy searchlight and mounted it on the front porch railing. During the early war years, a fatal shark attack happened off Pease’s Point, but I do not recall any foreign submarine sightings.
Dressed in camouflage with BB guns at the ready, Point Connett special forces borrowed Guntha to search for spies behind scrub pines and boulders. Most of my friends, energized commandoes, belonged to the Angelica Yacht Club, and sailed 12-foot, gaff rigged, two-person catboats. AYC sailors raced for weekend flags and the Beetlecat Cup, a pewter replica of America’s Cup.
While colored flags seemed important to enthusiastic parents, only a few yellow flags for third-place finishes graced the Wyman Rafters. Consistently, the Warren family won the blue and red flags, as well as many trophies. Sailing the Bobbin with her black hull and orange sail, my friends deserved every award.
For myself, racing was not a serious pastime, and I carried a fishing rod. Named after my favorite Disney song, Hi Ho, crossed the finish line long after the race committee and spectators had left the stone pier. Fresh striped bass, or bluefish for the Wyman family Sunday dinner was a treat, with milk toast for back up.
The course was to sail around the Angelica Red buoy, leave Cleveland Ledge to Port and home. Point Connett odds favored Jill in the Bobbin, with Dave Barker for her crew, at 2-1; a few sympathetic gamblers had Hi Ho, with Polly Anderson (my crew) at 12-1.
Between Point A and B, and in last place, I noticed gulls frantically diving over a school of Blues. Casting a popping plug, immediately I was onto a good-sized bluefish. That was when Polly noticed a shark fin, and suddenly water exploded as Sunday dinner got sliced in two.
“I’ll never sail with you again,” Polly said And, she didn’t, but she kept my school ring.
My Dad thought that Sunday racing was excellent therapy for shark hunters who drank too much beer on Saturday night. Sleeping late on one Sunday morning, he carried and dumped me from the stone pier, reiterating words of Polly Anderson’s dad, Andy, “When will you get a life?”
This happened on the same weekend that I declined my Grandmother’s offer and financial incentive to quit smoking on my seventeenth birthday. Beach bumming could be a risky livelihood.
Continued Next Week