by Gene Benedict
 Vacation at St. Simons
Some years past, not that long back, we took a vacation with some of Peggy’s family to St. Simons, Georgia. Melanie, our daughter was only a few months into her life. Allen and Caroline were there with us. We talked before about Caroline and Peggy being sisters. They grew up in the mountains of Virginia. Peggy and I were living in Virginia near the Southeast Coast. We had been there several years. I worked for the papermill in Franklin, Virginia. Peggy was a legal secretary. Caroline was a schoolteacher in Atlanta. Allen was a newspaperman for the “Atlanta Constitution.” Allen, a native of the Atlanta area, and Caroline were newly weds.
Allen’s family owned an old home in St. Simons for use by family members and their friends. Allen and I had fished together many times. We were anxious to get to the fishing spots. Neither of us had a boat. So we walked to fishing spots or drove one of the cars to others further away. Our first day we walked to the Coast Guard Station and beyond to a beach that often washes away in storms.
Large granite jetties were spread along the beach to break up wave action and cover the sandy beach. That is where we first went to fish. We walked along the boulders and over the breakwater to get to the salt water where we fished for whatever would bite, trout, redfish, sheepshead, small black drum, mullet, sea bass and more.
I was casting from atop the breakwater. Allen was fishing with live bait, mostly shrimp. Allen got a bite, a large heavy fish. He had to move up and down the boulders in the Jetty to fight that fish. The fish Allen had hooked was too large and heavy for the lightweight tackle he was using. I was up near the top of the breakwater when I spotted the fish. It was a doormat sized flounder. When Allen let up on the line a bit, the flounder would flatten out and flutter down into the sand.
I got excited and came down off the boulders to help Allen dislodge the flounder and get it moving again. Allen was a big man but he danced over the rocks as he played that flounder. I was barefoot. On my way down to the beach, I slipped between the rocks trying to catch myself with my fingers and hands.  My hands, feet and legs got all cut up on barnacles and oysters.
I got up and headed on down to the sand. I had a mission. Finally I got to Allen and grabbed the line on his rod. Mistake… the pop sounded like a .22 rifle shot. Pow… We lost the fish. Allen looked at me like “What are you doing?” Then he saw the condition of my hands and feet, all bloody with pieces of skin missing along with some flesh.
Now what do we do? Allen wasn’t through fishing and I wasn’t either. But I was… “Finished.” So I sat down in the water letting the wounds wash and trying to stop the blood. Soon crabs and small fish were nibbling on me. My enthusiasm abated as I shooed the scavengers.
We, Allen that is, caught some more fish, but nothing very big. The blood subsided. I found my way carefully back to my shoes and socks. We gathered up our gear and walked back to the house, while we discussed what we were going to say to the girls. We got back okay though I couldn’t get in my shoes for the rest of the trip.
We weren’t the only ones that had a bad day. Daughter Melanie had been squalling all day long. And the girls were trying to help her, but she didn’t know their language and they didn’t know hers. So after I dressed my wounds with peroxide and put on layers of socks, I took over with Melanie so the girls could at least get out of the house to relax a bit.
Allen watched some TV. Melanie and I tried to find a way to communicate. After some time trying to “talk” I finally understood. I taught her how to grunt and squeeze… And it worked. She filled her diaper. She grinned and laughed looking me in the eyes. And we bonded.
Over all, Melanie had the best day. Allen might have if he could have kept the flounder. And the girls…? Who knows…? None of us talked much for a couple of days.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Copyright © by Gene Benedict - January 28, 2015