My alarm went off at 5 a.m. After 15 minutes I crawled slowly out of bed and
trudged into the kitchen.
The phone rang.
"I'm searching the house," said the voice at the other end, "but I can't find
my dramamine. Do you think I can take a chance without it?"
"Sure, Edie," I said. "You'll be fine. See you in a little while."
I hung up the phone and sipped my coffee, feeling a little queazy. I'd never
been in a boat for a whole day before -- but I'm tough . . .
The phone rang again. "We're on our way," said my friend Billie, "I've got
everything packed; plenty of food, warm clothes -- the kids have their fishing
"I don't think they'll be able to fish," I told her. "The fishermen are
dredging for horseshoe crabs."
"We won't tell them," she said.
"By the way," I asked, "do you have any dramamine?"
"Never take the stuff," said Billie. "We have cast iron stomachs."
But what about me?
I was ready when they arrived, promptly at 6:15 a.m. We filled the trunk of
the car with all our supplies and were on our way to the small fishing town
of Belford, New Jersey.
When we arrived at the dock at 7 a.m., Al, my fisherman friend, was waiting.
It took us about 15 minutes to get ourselves and all of our food on the boat.
The boys forgot completely about their fishing poles as Al and Rocky, the
other fisherman, lowered their nets into the water. I watched as the boat became
filled with products from the sea. Horshoe crabs were thrown into a special
section of the boat, and the boys -- and Edie -- returned the starfish, clams, and
numerous other residents of the deep six back to their home.
I looked at my watch. It was 8 a.m.; tea time. I boiled some water on the two-
burner stove and prepared tea. I was proud of myself. No milk or sugar for me -- I
was on a diet. I'd been good for almost a week.
Our supplies were tempting. By 8:30 a.m., I had eaten half a bag of potato
chips, a bologna sandwich, four Oreo cookies, three lobster tails, and a cup of
The men continued to dredge, while the boys and Edie diligently helped to
separate the crabs from the other fish.
I sat in the cabin with Billie and continued to eat.
At 11 a.m., I heated my homemade chowder, and served lunch.
This was fun.
I envied the fishermen. The had the ability to walk a straight line on the
boat, as I stumbled from one spot to another.
We had a delicious meal. Then . . . the boat began to rock. Edie came inside,
and sat down. Her face was the same color as her bright green jacket.
"Can I have the garbage bag?" she asked politely, and then, "Please turn
your back, just in case . . . "
The boys joined us. Their faces were slightly pale.
Al stood on the deck, balancing on one leg, and then the other.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"I'm rocking the boat," he replied.
The water got rougher; the boat was doing a good job of rocking itself,
without Al's help.
Gary, the eight-year-old, wasn't feeling too well. Al came inside with a pail
of water and a towel. Gary couldn't make it down the hatch on time.
"Gary had a lot to eat today," said Al, grinning as he swabbed the messy deck.
Edie was moaning, "Please stop the rocking."
I felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. "Are you sure this isn't a
tornado?" I asked.
"No," said Al. "The water's no rougher than usual."
I watched soda bottles, potato chips, the pot of soupm Oreo cookies and
lobsters roll off the sink and on to the floor.
I held on to the side of the sink -- proud of myself because although I was
too uncoordinated to pick the food up from the floor, miraculously, I was not
The tornado was subsiding. "Everything is relative," I said. "I don't mind
hurricanes too much.
"This isn't bad at all," Al said calmly. "It's just an ordinary day on the
The boys were feeling better and went back on deck to "help" with the
Edie's skin faded to almost normal tones. Billie was fine. She'd been on
I went back on deck to watch.
At 1:30 p.m., we headed for shore with about 300 horseshoe crabs.
Back on the dock, we thanked the fishermen, and then lugged our supplies to
It was so good to be home.
Al called me a little while ago.
"Thanks," I said. "We had a great time."
"Why did you leave so quickly?" he asked. "The boys could have fished from
the side of the boat . . . "
Annette Wexler, 1980
This true story was published in The Daily Journal,
Elizabeth, New Jersey. Al, a commercial fisherman
who passed away away a long time ago, was the love of
my life for ten years.