Re­call­ing un­for­get­table res­cue

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY BUR­TON K. JANES

Through the ice

A 90-year-old man sits on his sofa, look­ing at the woman to his left. His eyes well up and his bot­tom lip quiv­ers.

“I’m not the hero in this story,” he says, his voice crack­ing.

He’s re­liv­ing a vivid me­mory from his past, one that hap­pened nearly six decades ago.

The woman, too, is deep in thought. Her face reg­is­ters joy.

“But you are a hero, Mr. Moore,” she in­sists, turn­ing to face him.

“ You saved my mother from drown­ing.”

The si­lence is deaf­en­ing, but for the snif­fles.

This was the scene at Everett Moore’s home in Clarke’s Beach last month as he en­joyed a visit with Beu­lah Mor­gan of Con­cep­tion Bay South.

The two have a spe­cial bond that will link them for­ever — a fate­ful day in Fe­bru­ary 1952, when Everett came to the res­cue of Beu­lah’s mother.

Three preach­ers’ kids - David, age four, Paul, six, and Beu­lah Pelley, al­most two - were play­ing on Clarke’s Beach Pond, be­hind the Pen­te­costal par­son­age on the Con­cep­tion Bay High­way.

In­side the house, Doris Pelley, the pas­tor’s wife, her sis­ter Elsie Porter and their mother El­iz­a­beth Kennedy, were chat­ting.

Sud­denly, the door burst open and in rushed one of the boys.

“ Mom,” he shouted breath­lessly, “Beu­lah’s gone down through the ice.”

The women ran out­side. With­out a thought about her per­sonal safety, Elsie dashed the 20 feet across the ice and jumped into the frigid wa­ter.

Gath­er­ing her niece into her arms, she threw her to Doris and her mother. One of them caught her and car­ried her into the par­son­age.

But Elsie now found her­self in trou­ble. She was un­able to climb to safety and get­ting weaker from the cold wa­ter.

Not far away, Everett Moore owned one of the few tele­phones in town.

His wife Laura got a des­per­ate call from Doris Pelley, ask­ing for help be­cause Elsie was in the wa­ter.

Laura shouted to her hus­band, the pro­pri­etor of Moore’s Gro­cery Store, across the road.

“I just went,” Everett said mat­ter-of­factly.

“ There was no way she could get out of the wa­ter,” he re­called. Adren­a­line pro­pelled him for­ward. He knew the ice was too weak to bear him. Grab­bing a 15-foot lad­der, he pushed it out on the ice ahead of him and gin­gerly walked to­ward the woman in dis­tress.

Elsie, up to her armpits in wa­ter, flailed her arms help­lessly.

“I broke the ice with a stick,” Everett said, “and Elsie grad­u­ally walked ashore with me.”

What could have been a tragedy had been averted be­cause of Everett’s self­less act.

To­day, he is unas­sum­ing about his in­volve­ment.

“ The real hero­ine in this story is Elsie Porter,” he said mod­estly. “She’s the one who got the lit­tle girl in. All I did was make a path­way for her to walk to shore.”

No false mod­esty here. He’s con­vinced he only did what any­body would have done.

“ What kind of per­son would I be if I didn’t help her?” he asked.

“ I was the right man at the right time.” An­other cas­cade of tears. “Tears are in my eyes to­day be­cause of the kind of per­son I am,” Everett ex­plained. “I’m a very emo­tional per­son.”

Beu­lah dried her eyes and gazed at Everett.

“I could’ve lost mom when I was 11 if Mr. Moore hadn’t been there,” she said.

To­day, Beu­lah Pelley, the lit­tle girl in the wa­ter, is a grown woman.

Al­though Beu­lah Mor­gan is her name­sake, the two cousins have lost touch with each other through the years.

Elsie Porter died in 2001 at age 88. Doris Pelley is also de­ceased.

Chance meet­ing

For years, Beu­lah Mor­gan had longed to meet the man who saved her mother.

In 2004, her dream be­came a re­al­ity when she came face-to-face with her mother’s res­cuer. Their first meet­ing was rather serendip­i­tous.

Beu­lah and her hus­band Gor­don were on vacation in New Hamp­shire when they vis­ited a church.

Dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with the pas­tor, they learned that a mem­ber of his con­gre­ga­tion was from this prov­ince. It turned out to be Mar­guerite Lester, Everett’s sis­ter.

On Aug. 1 of that year, the Mor­gans trav­elled to Clarke’s Beach from C.B.S. to meet Lester and her relatives.

Dur­ing an en­counter with Everett, a dra­matic con­ver­sa­tion un­folded.

“Mr. Moore,” Beu­lah said, “do you re­mem­ber Pas­tor Ray and Doris Pelley, who lived in Clarke’s Beach some years ago?”

“ Yes, ma’am,” he an­swered. “ They had a lit­tle girl who fell through the ice.”

“ Yes, I know the story,” Beu­lah ad­mit­ted.

“I can’t be­lieve what I’m hear­ing. The lady in the wa­ter was my mother. And you res­cued her.”

Everett Moore and Beu­lah Mor­gan of­ten get to­gether and mull over an un­for­get­table res­cue.

“He has be­come a great friend,” said Beu­lah.

Beu­lah Mor­gan looks at Everett Moore, who saved her mother from drown­ing nearly six decades ago.

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