Tad Swims and Taylor Doesn’t

[Virginia]: This little guy went in swimming. Whether he jumped over or not, I don’t know, but there was a lot of rocks there. But you can be sure where there’s rocks, the water is deep. And the water was very deep. And this little guy could not swim. Tad, Junior, you know, went and jumped in and pulled this little guy right out. Nobody said anything. It was just the natural thing to do. He actually saved that child’s life, you know?

[Barb]: Where was it? In Maine?

[Virginia]: This was up in New Hampshire. It was up in New Hampshire.

[Wally]: Yeah, up in, I think in Nashua. Or was that?

[Barb]: Come here.

[Wally]: No. The thing is I don’t recall the incident. I think I heard about it rather than actually being there.

[Virginia]: Yeah. Well, this little fellow—we didn’t even know him, you know—but he must have yelled out. Tad never made any hesitation. He just jumped over the rocks, went into the water, and dragged the kid out. Nobody said a word. You know, it was just such a natural thing to do, was to save his life. It’s quite cute because he just had a lot of courage to jump overboard. He wasn’t a good swimmer at that time, but he wasn’t going to let that little boy drown.

[Barb]: Now could your father [Taylor] swim?

[Wally]: I doubt it. I doubt it. He had a perforated eardrum, didn’t he, Ma?

[Virginia]: Yeah. 

[Wally]: And he always. . . . That was his excuse why he didn’t go in the water: because he had a perforated eardrum. I don’t think he. . . . That wouldn’t have kept him from getting his feet wet, but I never recall seeing him in the water. I believe I saw him once in that wool bathing suit, you know the one with the straps and everything. 

[Barb]: How can you be a captain in the Navy and not . . . ? 

[Wally]: That’s not a requirement. You know, you go down with the ship. 

[Barb]: Yeah. I guess. That’s why the captains go down with the ship. 

[Wally]: Yeah, they can’t swim. 

USS Granite State in New York Harbor at the time of the Spanish American War, courtesy of spanamwar.com/NYnavalmiltia[Virginia]: Well, he was in the Navy, but he never went to sea, you know. I had more sea than he had because I used to be on The Granite State. That’s when I worked on The Granite State on 96th Street in the North River. Do you remember that? 

[Wally]: Was it a boat, a boat on the . . . ? 

[Virginia]: It was a boat. It was a boat right there. It was a ship. It was, they called it The Granite State. That was the name of the ship. [It was originally named the USS New Hampshire, 1864.]

[Wally]: Was that one of the concrete ships that they made? They made a few ships out of concrete. 

[Virginia]: Well it might have been. I never knew whether it was actually sailable or not, but that’s what I worked on when I was in the Navy.

partial conversation between Virginia, Wally and Barbara Duncan (Wally’s wife) in the summer of 1987, courtesy of Barbara Duncan

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).

  • Have you got a picture of Grandpa Taylor in his bathing suit? Do share.
  • Do you ever remember Grandpa Taylor swimming or getting his feet wet?
  • What was Grandpa Taylor’s job in the Navy that he never saw sea time?
  • How was Grandpa Taylor’s eardrum perforated?
  • Why wasn’t Wally on vacation with the family that he only heard about Tad’s heroism later? Was he working a summer job? Studying? Camp-counseling?
  • Where did Tad learn to swim? Were any of the kids formally taught or did they just pick it up?
  • Are there any more stories about family vacations in Nashua, NH? Can you tell us about it? How old were you? Was it a cabin, a hotel, a family camp or something else? How long did everyone stay? Did you return annually, or was this just a one-time visit? Was it with another family?
  • Can you tell other stories of family vacations when the kids were younger?
  • Any idea how old Tad (b. June 22, 1937) would have been at this time? If he was young—Grandma called it “cute” but Wally wasn’t there—he might have been between 8 and 14 say, that would locate this story between 1945 and 1951.
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