Carole Kelley Orlando
The La Selva Beach House Incident
By Judy Orlando,
When I was about 11
years old my cousin Carolyn and I were staying with my grandparents
Mack and Minnie Maude Kelly at their second home, a beach house
near La Selva beach in California. It was a beautiful house that
my grandparents had built and I remember we had some family gatherings
there and that I spent some time there in summers.
It was on one of these
visits during an Easter vacation break that Carolyn and I were
there when an event took place that nearly ended my life.
It was a sunny and
seemed the perfect day for going to the beach and we begged our
grandmother, who we called Aunt Maude, to let us go walk down
to the beach on our own. She finally agreed that we could go but
only on the condition that we only play on the beach and not go
into the water because she said the tide and undercurrent were
too strong and it could pull us under. We agreed we wouldn't go
into the water and off we went in our matching two-piece red and
yellow striped swimsuits.
When we got to the
beach it was pretty hot so I suggested that perhaps we could just
dip our toes into the water. We then decided it wouldn't hurt
if we just waded a bit into the water. Once in the water, however,
we decided to swim out just a little ways (we were pretty good
swimmers) and before we knew it we were out past the breakers
that protected the beach area.
About this time something
happened and we were both pulled under the water. I felt like
I was descending very deep and struggled to get back to the surface
but I kept being pulled down. I honestly remember feeling like
I didn't have any more strength and was ready to give up when
I somehow got to the surface. We both continued to struggle but
were close to the breakers, and though exhausted we kept above
the water. I think we were both in a bit of shock at what had
just happened and were unsure what was going to happen next.
Back on the beach we
could hear a woman yelling that there were two little girls out
by the breakers and that they were drowning. We saw some college
boys head out towards us and I remember them forming almost a
line in the water so that when they reached us they were able
to pass Carolyn and myself back to the next rescuer until we were
both safely back on shore.
We layed on the beach
for awhile but decided we should go home. As we approached our
grandparents house we agreed that we would never tell anyone about
this. We got to the door but it was locked, as usual, so we knocked
and my grandmother opened the door. As soon as we saw her we both
started balling our eyes out. I don't think my grandmother at
first knew what to think.
We continued to sob
our way through our story of what had just happened and my grandmother
hugged us and insisted that we come with her so that each of us
could have a warm bath. She had a large pink tub and I remember
how comforting it was to be in that tub with my grandmother watching
over me but how tired I was. My grandmother continued to pamper
us the rest of the day but she had two bedrooms and it became
clear that the best thing for us was to go to bed and get some
sleep. I was so tired I went right to sleep.
I learned my lesson
and don't remember ever disobeying my grandmother again.
But it continues to
be something I will never forget.