Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Some postwar stories less happy than others

We stayed the first week in a small hotel within walking distance of old Boston and then rented a room with a shared kitchen and bath. Several other Coast Guard couples rented space there; an Army wife had two children and a car. When the manager/owner directed me to the shared kitchen and bath, she said, "On some days, the ‘real ocean’ may splash on your windows."

I hadn’t realized we lived on the "real ocean" until two fishermen showed their catch and explained we were 11 miles from where the fishing was great - it required heavy tackle with long, strong lines, but no poles.

Millie, an Army officer’s wife, and I were soon equipped and ready to fish at Nahant, "where the fish are." Her little Lucy went with us and easily climbed the steep path while carrying a doll and toys.

Our new tackle consisted of heavy, waterproof line, heavy weights to carry the line out away from the vertical stone bluff and huge hooks to catch huge fish.

Having taught lifesaving for years, I knew how to wind rescue ropes and used the same technique in winding my fishing line while Millie helped Lucy get safely placed.

I planned my throw and swung the rope loops, which were in my right hand, while standing on the other end, and I’d swing with all my might. Wham! But the rope loops didn’t go. They were at my feet - and something was hurting behind my right knee. "Stand still, Sue," I thought to myself. "Plan! Don’t ask Millie for help until you have a plan."

The huge fishhook had caught on the flesh of my right leg and my green wool slacks - that was what was hurting behind my knee. What a mess!

I called for Millie, and she took one look and said, "Your slacks will be ruined ... Sue! You’re hurt!" Suddenly, she turned as white as a sheet when she realized the big hook was in my leg.

I said, "Millie, it doesn’t hurt until I move." But we both realized that we were on top of that tall, stony point, and we had little Lucy and her toys. I stood motionless, holding the weight of my slacks so there was almost no pain.

"I could cut the slacks off with my good, sharp pocketknife," I said, and we both laughed because it was in the wrong pocket. I couldn’t possibly reach the knife with my only free hand. She got the knife and helped me saw back and forth, endlessly. Finally, only a scrap of green wool was trapped against my leg. That was great relief. Now what?

Millie’s color gradually improved as we planned. We’d pack up toys, tackle and Lucy. Millie knew of a small hospital in a town nearby. Lucy was a wonderful trooper, and Millie regained almost normal color. I could manage. We got down the steep hill to the car, loaded things and headed for that hospital.

I limped into the receiving room, and a nurse called a young man in white. He helped me to a tall table and tried to back the hook out. "No!" I screamed, "Cut the hook in two pieces."

He spoke not a word to me but asked the nurse to go for some kind of medical grinder. "No! Cut the fishhook," I shouted as I rolled a wad of paper and demonstrated the simple removal of a fishhook without blood, pain or stitches. The nurse then retrieved a simple cutter from her car tools and snipped that heavy fishhook into two pieces on the first try.

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