Monday, November 22, 2010

Become a dusty private dick.

I have decided that I am not busy enough. Between being a father, husband, blogger, cheap wine connoisseur and that other thing I do on the side, I have found time to become an amateur historian and private detective- a dusty private dick if you will. (I wouldn’t google that if I were you.)
Not the St. Anthony Lighthouse.
Coast Guard Canada tore it down and built an automated station.
 Now robots save people if they are washed out to sea.
On September 10, 1969 a man by the name of Baxter Pynn did his job. Mr Pynn was the Assistant Lighthouse keeper in St. Anthony Newfoundland. On that day he was home sipping tea and listening to the storm that was churning the harbour and splitting the rocks. At that same time, two visiting college students from England thought it would be a good idea to watch the storm from the rocks. One was washed to sea, the other ran to the light keeper's home help.
“Me buddy is in the drink...” the student exclaimed.
Figuring the young man was thirsty he said, “Help yourself,” and invited him in. When Mr. Pynn tell’s the story, he always laughs at this part. 
Quickly, he did realize what had happened and said “Call out to your buddy and tell him help is coming.” Mr. Pynn went on down to where the boat was kept and “shuft” off.
The high winds and waves caused Baxter’ 16 foot boat to fill with water before he even struck out. He nursed his water-logged boat along as best he could, heading out in a zig zag pattern to avoid being capsized. 
Peggy's Cove. Unfortunately, I've looked for a body there.
The currents and waves had carried the student about 1200 feet from shore. His legs were badly broken and he was unconscious, lying face down in the surf. The only thing keeping him afloat was a pocket of air trapped in his leather jacket.
“I could see his body but I didn’t know what I’d find when I reached him. He wasn’t rising up with the swells, they just washed right over him. I didn’t figure he’d be alive when I got to him.”
When he was near enough, Baxter grabbed his gaff and reached for the young man’s coat. “I thought I was going to top over, so I took him along to the bow of the boat.” He tried to haul the lifeless body onboard but could only get him partway out of the water before the next wave struck, driving the boat towards the sky and the body into the deep. “I thought he was dead, but then he threw up a big guff of water and that gave me the strength to get him in.”
The young man survived, and after a couple of years, Mr. Pynn received a package in his mail box. He received the Carnegie Medal for Bravery.
The award recognizes persons who perform acts of heroism in civilian life in the United States and Canada, and also provide financial assistance for those disabled and the dependents of those killed helping others. Those who are selected for recognition by the Commission are awarded the CARNEGIE MEDAL, and they, or their survivors, become eligible for financial considerations, including one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance. To date, more than 9,000 medals have been awarded, the recipients selected from more than 80,000 nominees. About 20 percent of the medals are awarded posthumously.
My Grandfather, Bater Pynn is an recipient.
Baxter Pynn, Carnegie Medal award recipient and great grandfather.
A man by the name of John S. B. Prentice was washed out to sea that fateful September day.
His mailing address in 1971 was Lynetts, Coggshall, Colchester, Essex, England. He was an 18-year-old college student at the time of the rescue in 1969. I am going to find out what happened to him and what he did with the rest of his life. If you would like to help, please do. Become a dusty private dick with me.

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