Special to the Transcript
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, clamdiggers were a common sight on the low-tide mudflats that surround Winthrop. These hearty men performed the back-breaking labor of harvesting clams in order to generate income for their families in the hard times.
In the 1930s, I was a young kid living with my family at 97 Court Road. I slept with my older brother Bobby in a bedroom overlooking the (then vast) Winthrop/East Boston Harbor behind our house. One morning, when I woke up, Bobby had gotten out of bed, opened the window and was listening to something outside.
I went to the window to listen with my brother to a sound coming from the water. It was becoming daylight and a thick fog was rolling in with the tide making it impossible to see anything beyond our backyard. I leaned out the window and listened. A clamdigger was somewhere out on the mudflats alone and was shouting for help.
“HELP! HELP! I’m lost out here in the fog! The tide is overflowing the channels, and it’s coming at me from every direction! I don’t know which way to go! HELP ME SOMEONE!”
I looked down and saw that the oldest DeCosta boy (“Tubby”) was running across the backyard to the stairs leading down to the beach. When he reached the stairs, he stopped and shouted back into the thick fog. “Come this way! Keep coming this way!
He ran down the stairs to the beach shouting:
“Keep coming toward my voice! Don’t go any other direction!
I lost sight of Tubby in the thick fog on the beach, but I could hear him continuing to shout as loud as he could.
“Keep coming toward my voice! I am right here waiting for you!”
Tubby’s shouting stopped and I could hear the voice of the clamdigger.
“I can see you now!” “I can see you now” “Thank god whoever you are!”
“Thank god for you!”
I could see Tubby helping the clamdigger up the stairs to the backyard. When they were both in the backyard, they shook hands. It may have been my imagination, but I thought the clamdigger was crying. When I looked again. They both had disappeared into the thick fog,
The rescue was complete.