Not all fishermen were created equal. Some were more successful than others, and some worked harder than others. Dallas Rose may not have been noticeably more successful, but no one could fail to notice that he worked harder than just about anyone.
If most other fishermen left home just as the sun was rising, Dallas was already out the Inlet and waiting on a set. If other boats headed home in time to reach the dock by sundown, Dallas' boat was still offshore when the sky grew dark. And even as he worked longer, he also worked harder. While others would put out only a few hundred feet of net to "try a sign," (test to see if fish were present), Dallas would put out a full thousand yards.
Understandably, it sometimes was hard for Dallas to keep a regular crew to work with and beside him. Not that he was unsuccessful, for Dallas crew shared out more than most. But there were very few others who were willing to go at it as hard as he did. Usually he depended on his family; his brothers, cousins and nephews. Later on he had sons and a son-in-law. It was one of these family helpers who told a story that better than any other illustrates what it was like to fish with Dallas Rose.
One fall evening, as his boat, the "Wasted Wood," approached the dock, he asked one of his crewmen to get on the bow and catch the "mooring stick" that was tethered to the anchor securing the boat. As the young man reached in the night air for the stake, Dallas noticed that his eyes were watering, but not due to the wind or the evening mist. He was actually crying and shedding tears as he struggled to hold onto the rope and secure the boat.
"Why are you crying?" Dallas asked as he looked into the face of his tired helper. "We're almost home, and then you can rest."
"I know," his young but worn out crewman responded, "that just means that in two more hours we'll be heading out again."
Harkers Island people and stories, as told to and by one of them.
"All the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life . . . the sun rose upon a tranquil world, and beamed down upon the peaceful village like a benediction.” Mark Twain - Tom Sawyer
For the last ten years or so I have been compiling a list of stories --- some sublime, and some ridiculous, and some in-between --- about the Island I grew up on. It remains my hope to arrange them into a coherent narrative that will convey some of what it was like to be a small part of a special place at a special time.