“I see it!”, “I see it!”, cried one of the boys as we drove into the parking area. A large crowd had gathered at the Dinner Key Seaport just a few miles south of Miami. It was in the spring of 1933 and we could easily tell by looking that it was the largest of all seaplanes ever built. We four boys, Mother and Dad and one sister filed out of the car and joined the others watching this ‘monster’ taxi to the end of a 200 foot wooden pier. Divers were ready to go down and attached the wheel gear to the belly of the plane. A tractor and cable would then pull this experimental (DOX) aircraft up a wide ramp onto dry land.
All six engines were shut down and the props ceased to turn. We kids were excited and pressed our way to the front line of the crowd. There was a green mossy grass that seem to flourish on the edge of the concrete ramp. I tested it with a toe and quickly withdrew thinking, “that’s as slippery as ice!”. My brother Jim was more daring and when his foot came down on the green slime he did a half-flip and landed in the bay. Our sister saw him floundering and rushed to help. When she hit the green slime she too went flying into the deep.
Some one got excited and yelled, “There are people in the water”. Dad pushed his way through the crowd and in his rush to save his children, he hit the grassy moss and went sliding down the ramp and tore a large hole in the seat of his pants.
The water wasn’t all that deep but the green moss on the bottom made it almost impossible to get up, much less to get out. Mother came running but was graciously held back by a couple of the men.
A human daisy chain of hands and arms were employed to extract the family, one by one. Dad was the last one to be pulled from the water and when he saw us kids bawling our eyes out, he said, “You kids, pipe down”. We did.
There we stood, three wet and four dry. The crowd cheered and laughed as we made our way to the car. Suddenly Dad grinned and said, “Why don’t we all just turn around and take a bow”. We did and the crowd responded with a cheer.
In the past six decades, we have had numerous family outings and reunions. We never fail to relive the classic Dinner Key adventure with the DOX.
Tommy Exum 920 Woodmont Blvd. (s-15)
Nashville, Tennessee (37204)