On a warm September day in 1959, tragedy struck the Cross marina. A group of men and women, all visiting from Boston, arrived via train early in the morning. They spent a good portion of the day on the outskirts of town, visiting the site of where their former workplace had once been.
These people were nurses and doctors, staff members of St. Ann’s Home for Orphaned Children which vanished in the 1930s.
As they traveled about the town, they reminisced on the challenges of working with the mentally disabled and orphans, of stretching their funds to assist those less fortunate. All this was recorded by a staff writer from Boston. They supplied him with photographs of the conditions they worked in and told him the sad fate of those orphans never adopted, or wounded soldiers left to rot.
At the end of the day, they gathered on the marina, walking out along the pier to gaze at the place where so many of their patients came to them. They spoke of how the boat would travel up the Cross River from the Atlantic, bringing the needy from all the New England states.
Someone produced several bottles of champagne to celebrate the memories of those left behind.
No sooner had the bottles been opened than their section of the pier collapsed.
Fifty-two men and women plunged into the Cross River. Some swam for the shore; others tried to clamber up the collapsed portions.
None of them escaped the swiftly moving water, nor the tentacles which slipped up from the depths and dragged them back down.
Out of the fifty-two people, only eight bodies were recovered.
Eight more than I had planned.
I knew what had happened at St. Ann’s, and I had not forgotten.
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