It was the summer of 1976. I know this, because it was the Bicentennial of the USA, and my father couldn't get enough of the stuff they were selling in the States to mark the occasion. But already, I digress.
It was also the summer after the blockbuster hit movie, "JAWS" had premiered. Although my sister, Nancy was too young to see that film, I recall that my best friend Jane and I had filled her in on the gory details - the head dropping through the bottom of the boat, the woman in the opening scene taking the night-time skinny dip who gets cut in half. That sort of thing.
So, it shouldn't be too surprising when I reveal the story behind this photo taken on Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina in July of '76.
I had just turned 15, and was going through an "I'm so fat" stage—loping around with hunched shoulders in my new bikini. (There are photos, but you'll just have to imagine it.) My sister was nearly nine years old.
When we got to the beach that day, it was a bit overcast, but that did not stop us from dashing out into the waves and, as we used to say, "getting ducked". The water was nothing like we were used to in either the Bras D'or lakes of Cape Breton, or frigid Lake Ontario just south of our home; it was warm and wonderful!
So, we were paddling around and drifting a bit eastwards, as I recall (the tide was pretty strong), when all of a sudden my little sister starts screaming. Her round face was all red, she was swallowing water, and in between gulps, shrieking her lungs out about a "shark".
Now, having seen the movie for myself, I high-tailed it out of those waves as fast as my tanned legs could carry me. I didn't abandon my sister entirely, a hunky teen-aged life-guard was off his pillar and diving into the water to rescue her.
There was no shark. My sister had caught her foot in the submerged pilings referred to on the sign in the picture. She was "saved".
You would think I would have found this rather humourous since she was okay, but the fact that this young Poseidon had to come to her aid for nothing was absolutely mortifying in my eyes. I wanted to bury myself in the sand.
My father, on the other hand, thought this was a great joke and wanted to mark it for posterity. He could not resist perching my sister on the "shark" and taking her photo.
I don't ever recall her swimming at the beach again. I don't ever recall wearing a bikini either.
Swim over to the Sepia Saturday blog and dive in to some more great stories and photos.