Bob Tuten spent his boyhood growing up on the very different Daniel Island of the 1930s. Here’s the latest in his reminiscences….this time about saving his brothers from drowning…
“There were three of us siblings in our family. I was the oldest. Rick was four years younger and Ron was seven years younger. My dad had a nickname for each of us. I was “Tug,”, named after some older man that my dad knew whose name was Tug Hudson. Rick’s name was “Ham bone” or “Ham” (because he was chubby). Ron was “Peanut” (because he was so small and skinny). I don’t recall my dad ever calling us by our real names. Even after I was grown and had given him three grand children.
This story is about me saving Rick and Ron,on separate occasions from drowning. As I mentioned in previous stories, our house faced the Cooper River and the Charleston Navy Yard located on the west side of the river. There was a huge marsh area, several hundred feet wide, between our house and the east side of the river. At the northern end of the house and approximately 200 feet away was a man-made ditch several feet deep that connected to the marsh. Between the house and marsh was a cart path and bridge that crossed over then ditch where the ditch met the marsh. The cart path ran past my buddy Isaac’s house and followed the marsh edge to the west side of some of the fields.
During full moon, especially in May, the flood tides were so high that practically all the marsh grass was covered. The river’s edge appeared to be at the bridge and along the side of the cart path. The ditch was cleaned every year. The dirt and silt was tossed up on the shoulders. On top of the shoulders a long blade grass (about 2 feet in length) would grow covering the edge and hanging down touching the water when it was high tide. One day Rick (then about 7 ) and I were walking the ditch bank toward the bridge. Rick got too close to the edge and in the ditch he went. He could swim but with the heavy grass he could not find the bank. I laid on my stomach, grabbed his hand and pulled him out.
On a different occasion, maybe a year later we three boys were on the bridge and the flood tide was rushing under the bridge filling the ditch. The water was just above the bottom of the cross beams that supported the wooden planks and was swirling under the beam. I heard a splash and saw the top of Ron’s head under the planks and against the beam. I got a handful of his hair and pulled him far enough out so that I could grab an arm and lift him out. Needless to say he spit up quite a bit of water.”