The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Thu. Sep 18, 2003

A Prayer for a Pier

A Prayer for a Pier“Hurricanes run most folks out of town so we will probably be slow for the next few days.” Those understated words are now on the home page of Sportsman’s Pier, located in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina.

You know that Atlantic Beach is right in the targeted path of Hurricane Isabel because today there are numerous media people there, standing outside getting drenched as they never have, doing human wind tolerance testing, while telling us “those with half a brain left long ago.” (there’s a message in there, somewhere).

So far, it appears the hurricane will not be quite as damaging as many had worried when it breached the Category Five barrier. Just the same, it is bearing down on a place filled with memories of my childhood.

From “In Memory: Cora Lee Hinton Stott”: “Cora Lee and Eddie spent most of their summer’s there, specifically at a place called Sportman’s Pier. Granddaddy spent his days at the end of the pier, and set area records for tarpon and kingfish, caught a 500 pound hammer head shark, and once, even a huge sea turtle. Grandmother caught her share as well, but she spent her time supplementing their income by working in the tackle shop at the foot of the pier.”

“From the ages of about seven to ten, this is the magical environment in which I spent much of my summers. The now inconceivable freedoms of a child in the innocent 60’s, left to ramble alone on the beach, and up and down the pier. Mr. Bradley owned the pier, and had a son near my age, David, who now owns the pier. I’m sure for him as well, those freedoms seem so long ago, but I associate those times with my grandparents. Sun, water, and endless adventure (like finding a $5 bill on the beach, and revelling in richness). The perfect summer of childhood.”

They are the most pure memories of the summers of my youth, entirely associated with one place. It’s been almost 15 years, but the last time I travelled to the Outer Banks I just had to stop by Sportsman’s Pier. By pure chance, I encountered that childhood friend.

The pier was family owned, and decades after our youthful fun, David was now the owner. He talked about the last time a hurricane had come through, and ripped off the end of the pier. I very distinctly remember him saying that if that happened again, it would probably be the end of the pier, as the cost of insurance and rebuilding was just too much.

So today I offer a prayer that those in the path of the storm will be safe. And I also can’t help but note that this pier and I are roughly the same age, so perhaps the nearly fifty year old collection of beams and pilings has become a symbol for me in more ways than one.

It may seem odd to pray for the safety of a pier, but I’ll be doing it.

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