by Rose Mallory
Miami Daily News
Reprinted with permission from April 5, 1950
The four Coast Guardsmen who live and work at Fowey Rock lighthouse near Miami have now been counted by the census enumerator.
But in the process, the enumerator nearly lost the registration of one newspaper reporter from 521 SW 6th St. – namely me.
Getting the registrations of those four men was no simple task, believe me. For four statistics, which are what the boys are now, it hardly seems worth it, looking back.
I am taking a dim view of the whole thing, thinking of yesterday’s events. For I almost became a casualty.
Falling in the ocean, fully clothed, wrist watch and all, and being fished out is no picnic, take it from me.
Not that I was scared—not even with all those barracuda around. But it was such a loss of dignity. Everybody thought it was real funny, except me.
Perhaps I should go back and explain a little bit about how rough the ocean was yesterday.
When we started out from the Coastguard base on MacArthur Causeway, enumerator Denver D. Scott, a real nice guy if there ever was one, looked at the fishing boats coming in and the heavy waves in Government Cut.
“Did you bring any seasick pills?” he asked nervously. He added: “I had spaghetti for lunch. I was in the Navy a year and a half and I was sick half the time.” Otherwise he was real cheerful.
Photographer Walter Davis and Walter Whalen, assistant census interviewer, are tough. They just thought it was going to be a nice little jaunt.
When we got to the mouth of the cut, and the boat bucked five foot waves, they were excited about the picture possibilities.
There is nothing much to say about that hour and a half ride. It was tame compared to what was to come.
My problem, arriving at the dock, was to negotiate the 100 yards from that nice, safe Coast Guard boat to the rock in a
small rowboat. Weldon Poucher, officer in charge at the light, rowed out from me.
We started toward the dock. The waves were high, but we got there okay. I reached out for the stairway and Seaman Clarence Simmons. I would show these guys I was no sassy, real nimble-footed.
From then on things are confused. There was a big wave, I remember, and the boat shot out from under me. Seaman Simmons grabbed. I wasn’t a bit scared.
“How annoying,” I thought. “Of all the women who have to fall in the ocean, it has to be me. I got a quick glance at Davis at the top of the stairs, ready to take some cheesecake of me coming aboard.
He was a picture of indecision, to take the picture or come to the rescue. Davis is a career man. He took the picture.
By this time I knew I was all wet. Simmons pulled me on to the stair.
“My,” I said. “What a stupid thing to do. I am all wet.” He laughed. Davis was convulsed. I gave him a dirty look, and climbed topside.
“I am going to have to have some dry clothes.” I said. That was an understatement.
Poucher produced a king-size T-shirt and a pair of Simmons’ jeans, skin tight for me and two sizes too small. But at least I was dry. And very embarrassed.
I walked into the kitchen where Scott was taking the consensus, come hell, high water or drowning.
There was tittering. I felt like a fool. The pants were too tight and I breathed in to reduce the pressure on a button.
“It isn’t funny.” I said sourly, “At least not yet.”