November 8, 2013

Sepia Saturday #202: Snatched From the "Jaws" of Death!



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.



30 comments:

  1. OMG, I remember "Jaws." Scared the you-know-what outta me...I don't think I've been for a swim in the ocean ever since without wondering what's beneath me, lurking...

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    1. Deb, I know. It was absolutely terrifying, wasn't it? I still love to watch the film though - one of those movies that sucks you right in, if you even see a few minutes of it.

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  2. Leave to our parents to take those special Kodak moments, priceless they are really! Great story Kat, and there's a mysterious glow to that photo too!

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    1. Yup. My dad would never miss that kind of photo-opportunity! I think the glow is just from using a bad camera, Karen. Ha ha.

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  3. Well you had me there, how frightful for your sis. And certainly Jaws was uppermost in her mind, but glad to know all's well that ends well, etc.

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    1. Yes, Pat, she was pretty scared, but she got over it quickly enough. At least she was able to get in the water in Nova Scotia without feeling that kind of terror. We thought we were safe in the lakes, but then, there were always the bloodsuckers!

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  4. Had you been just a little older, encountering the hunky teenaged lifeguard any way you could might have been worth a little embarrassment caused by your sister's panic. In fact, you might have been able to use it to your advantage. But 15 is still a little too young for that sort of thing - especially when wearing a bikini you weren't comfortable in. Oh well. Probably just as well. :)

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    1. You could be right about that, Gail. I think the bathing suit had way more to do with it than the "shark-incident". If I'd been a little prettier, without glasses, and a tauter tummy, I might have made my move!

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  5. Classic movie that I never want to see again.
    LOL, when I first saw the photo I thought the sign said 'submerged siblings' and it turns out I was right!

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    1. How funny, Boobook! Your mind was playing tricks on you, but it turned out to be more apt than it first appeared. The movie is definitely worth seeing again, as long as you're not planning any beach vacations.

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  6. A very funny story and photo that are both perfect for this weekend's beach theme. The mythical power of that movie will probably last for more generations than most fairy tales.

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    1. Very true, Mike. Mythic indeed! I was too young to realize the negative impact such a film would have on sharks-at-large. I think our perception of the shark was greatly formed by that movie, to the detriment of the big fish.
      One of my favourite books is Michael Capuzzo's "Close To Shore". It's about the original shark attacks on the New York coast that inspired the movie in the first place. It is a truly fascinating read.

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  7. I must confess that Hawks Nest has its share of shark sightings over summer, and there was an attack in the bay a few years ago ( not fatal, luckily). They are usually spotted by planes on share patrol, and then the lifesavers clear the water for half an hour or so while the marauder is warded off, but when you think about it, who has more claim to swim in the deep?

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    1. I absolutely agree with you, Jo. In fact, I am someone who champions the animal's cause in all cases. As a teenager, I didn't have the forethought to recognize this; I was on the side of the "victims" the whole way with this film.

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  8. Haha, I was about the same age as you when Jaws came out and also had great delight scaring my younger brothers!

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    1. It's always funny when the "joke" isn't on you, isn't it? Unfortunately, I was often the victim of my father's well-intentioned jokes. No fun.

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  9. Another post that made me smile tonight.

    I was once chased by a sting ray with its tail raised. I cannot remember how I got from the water into a nearby moored boat so quickly (normally a very difficult task). Adrenalin does strange things!

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    1. Well, thank goodness for that adrenalin, eh?!

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  10. Good think the life guard saved her, with no thought of being eaten alive by sharks! Wonder if that sort of thing happened a lot there.

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    1. I never thought of that, Kristin, but I guess so. Maybe that's why the sign was there in the first place.

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  11. That's a great photo and an amusing story. I'm probably one of the few people who have never seen Jaws.

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    1. I bet there are more of you than you think. Thanks, Postcardy.

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  12. Well I don’t know the movie - thank goodness, but what a great story yours is and I’m sure more entertaining. Thank goodness Poseidon was there to save your sister!

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    1. Oh, Nell, the movie is really a brilliant one. The writing, the directing and the acting are all superb.

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  13. I've never been game to watch the movie Jaws !

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    1. If I lived Down Under, I don't think I'd be quite as inclined, boundforoz.

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  14. Teenage angst -- I would not want to relive those days.

    Those pilings do indeed resemble the open jaws of sharks. Too funny!

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    1. I've got a boatload of teen-angst tales, Wendy. They are all hidden on my 52 Pick-up blog. It's funny now, but then ... not so much.

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  15. Jaes makes the TV still almost every year. I'd sooner watch them in nature programmes though. Enjoyed this post Kat even although we didn't get to see that bikini.

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    1. I like the nature programs too, Bob. Did Attenborough ever do a program on sharks? I can't recall.

      As for the bikini, be careful what you wish for!

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