Recalling unforgettable rescue
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.
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.