USCGA Boating Class and Lives Saved

By Izzie Hayes

You might be amazed to know how many rescue efforts for hapless sports participants are staffed by VOLUNTEERS. On the ski slopes, when the “shushing goes awry” or the tree moved into the wrong spot, the skier that shows up with the basket for your rescue  may be a recreational skier intent on your safe extraction in this or any emergency. His or her only recompense is the free access to the slopes he loves. They serve—without pay—because they love to make a difference in a sport they love.

On the water, where things can go wrong suddenly and with devastating consequences, THE U.S. COAST GUARD AUXILIARY, has a cadre of boaters that serve on the waterways of our nation with their boats and their highly trained skills in life saving efforts. All volunteers, they spend hours in training sessions and keep their vessels equipped and ready to move.

Water rat that I am, that appealed to me. I joined the Auxiliary soon after we moved to the Chesapeake Bay Area in Maryland in 1980 and became a highly involved member in the training portion of  the Auxiliary mission as well as patrols on the water. The member training was topnotch. Included were navigation skills, safety requirements, navigational markers and light signals, use of the marine radio, weather, and everything a trained boater should know. The materials were similar to the training texts used at  the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. A rigid testing program was in place and kept us on our toes!                      

About that time, Maryland enacted a law that required every boater born after July 1972 to have a state certificate of satisfactory completion of the Boating Safety Course in order to be at the helm of a boat, power or sail. The Auxiliary had a major part in making this challenge a reality. We taught the classes for power and sail throughout the winter and the Maryland State Boating Course at the Parks and Recreation Center during the summer. Our classrooms were log huts or vacant classrooms wherever available, and our students were young and old. It was a joyous time for all of us.

One August night, in a basement room at the high school, the Southern Maryland classroom was muggy, and since school was not officially “in session,” no air conditioning stirred to relieve the oppressive humidity. Concurrent thoughts raced through my mind, as we ended another session on Safe Boating Basics for the State of Maryland: “I’ve taught this same material three dozen times already [although not to this particular group]; they’re half asleep–eyes glazed over–and the final topic for the course was “Capsizing in frigid water.”   “Who in their right mind would even be out on the water in freezing temperatures!”

“OK, Class, I think this may be a wrap, but I do need to make one final—crucial—comment: Cold water kills——-quickly! It’s called HYPOTHERMIA.  Notice the illustrations at the bottom of this last page and the Hypothermia Chart. If the water temperature is 50 to 60 degrees, exhaustion or unconsciousness can occur within a 1-2 hour period. I can’t conceive of any of you finding yourselves in this situation, BUT———-if you are, check your flotation device; stay with the boat; do not attempt to swim ashore [It is farther than it appears to be!] and the effort much more difficult than it would be in warmer water. You can preserve body heat by clinging to each other. Share a GROUP HUG and stay as still as you can, until help arrives!!!”        

The entire class passed the final exam the following week, which was always a joy for us U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Instructors!  But especially so for two of the “graduates”—with their brand new certificates that authorized them to “operate a vessel on Maryland State waters— ”  as  they put their knowledge to the ultimate test later that fall, AND SURVIVED!

In early December, a father and his 12-year-old son from that August session, boarded the El Toro, a substantial-looking wooden hulled charter boat out of the Potomac River, with nearly twenty eager customers looking for a little excitement and some end-of-the-season fishing. Counting the skipper and crew, there were 23 aboard.

Some of the roughest turbulence on the Chesapeake Bay exists almost constantly where the Potomac meets the bay, and is made even more treacherous on an inbound tide and contrary winds. The charter boat pounded its way through heavy seas as it rounded Point Lookout and headed south.

Suddenly, in spite of the fact that the boat had recently passed its State Safety Inspection, she began taking on water. Two boards had parted and been lifted from the keel. The captain sent an immediate S.O.S., which was received at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, less than ten air miles from the scene. Rescue helicopters were dispatched and quickly began the process of plucking the survivors from the frigid water and transporting them to the Base Hospital.

Two of the group died from exposure, but, although the twelve-year-old and his father were the last to be rescued, they were on full alert as they met “the Press” when the chopper landed (and the usual in-depth questioning session followed): “You were in the water longer than any of the other victims. How do you account for your remarkable survival in near freezing temperatures?”

“We took the Safe Boating Class this summer, and our instructor, Ms. Hayes, told us what to do in a case like this—a ‘group hug’—and I reminded my dad that we had to hug to hold in our body heat. That’s what we did!”

The following August, my fellow Auxiliarists and I were on the dock in Annapolis to receive the honor as Runner-up in the Annual Governor’s Award for Volunteerism. No cold chills that day, but there were plenty the previous December, when I realized how fortunate it was that I had opted to hold the class a few minutes longer and stress the technique for surviving hypothermia—–even as I thought, “This will never happen!” Sometimes I feel that heroism is simply a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and doing what you were trained to do.”


The Pugilistic Preacher

by Izzie Hayes

          Before my dad was Rev. Charles A. Dayton, or even a DAD, his dreams were fairly simple. Like most teenagers, he wanted to complete his schooling, find a beautiful, loving companion, support his church, hunt and fish, and enjoy whatever came along. Abruptly, at sixteen, he found it necessary to drop out of  high school and assist his family with unexpected medical expenses. His father had been seriously injured at work in the mill in their isolated Upstate New York town. Situated on the Hudson River, the mill, the International Paper Company, had the river as an easily accessible power source for their industry and had become the chief employer for the men living in the nearby Adirondack Mountains area.

          As the oldest son of five children, Charles began his own brief career as a mill worker. Already a rugged young man, over six feet tall, handsome, affable, and ready for action, he quickly became known for his quick wit and “brute strength,” which he was happy to share whenever needed. Every lunchtime, after setting aside their metal lunch buckets, the men gathered to let off a little steam before returning to their presses.

Charles Dayton (left) c.1920

          Modesty dominated the Dayton genes in that generation, and bragging was a definite no-no, so I am not certain how he acquired his skill as a boxer in that circle of mill workers, nor how proficient his opponents were. It’s human nature to cheer on the newcomer, and I think those seasoned mill workers probably looked forward to lunch hour and a chance to see “the kid” pummel the current top contender! I did hear that he at one time unseated the highly touted “top man to beat.”  I doubt there was a ring—with ropes, and I think he only fought bare-fisted, without the protection of gloves. I can visualize a pan and a hammer for the bell and a “dead serious expression” on the faces of the timer and the “crowd,” as they cheered on the newcomer.

          In my childhood memories, there were times when the threat of being pummeled by our resident “Jack Dempsey,” was my biggest nightmare. He knew the moves, and he was 6 feet, 4 inches tall. His were playful jabs, but I never developed any skill in “parrying” to his playful thrusts.

          When a higher calling drew him out of the ring, he became involved in the educational training for the ministry, and abandoned the draw of boxing.

My theory is that you can “take the man out of boxing, but you can never take the boxing out of the man.” My sister Doris and I, and often my mother too, were reduced to assuming the fetal position whenever Dad took the stance and said ,“Put up your dukes!”

          Years later, televisions screamed from the neighbors’ houses, as the excitement of the Monday Night Fights blasted through the open windows.

I sensed my dad leaned into the sound. It may be a bit sad to realize that his promise as a boxer never materialized into a reality. Boxing is “a sport,” of course, but  in my adolescent mind, knowing how useless I was as a competitor, and that all of his strength and agility and thoughtful approach to every challenge seemed wasted to never have had a chance to be proved!!!!

I always surmised ,i.e., a  thought without any strong evidence on which to base it at all, that Dad would have loved to be pushed into a situation in which the only honorable solution would be for him to step up and PASTE THE VILLAIN ONE!  For the Gipper, maybe!!!


This conclusion was a part of my psyche so much so that when I was working a swing shift in a small hosiery mill in Cohoes, N.Y., for some much needed college money in the mid 1940’s, one of the regular crew became  determined  to plant a kiss on the college kid. I thought he was slimy, and I was equally determined that he wouldn’t. My mistake was in telling my dad that he had!! I think Dad went berserk. He was insistent that he be at the gate when my next shift was over. “Just point him out to me!” I don’t know if it was my mother’s tears or my suggestion that the headlines would surely be amazing the next day: “Local Minister Mauls Mill Worker.”  Something prevailed;  a crisis was averted. And poor old dad never got to plaster a sleaze-ball! It’s my story—— “HE COULD HAVE!!”

Sad Day for Corinth Church

The Corinth Wesleyan Church, established in 1873, grew to be the largest church in the Champlain Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist denomination in the late 50’s and early 60’s.  At its zenith, it achieved a Sunday School attendance of over 300 persons.  The normal SS attendance was consistently over 200. In its later years, attendance waned to the extent that, in the early 2000’s, the pastor declared that “this church is no longer dying…it’s dead.” 

Shortly thereafter the Corinth Wesleyan Church discontinued all services and activities.  In one of the most irresponsible and bizarre actions I have ever heard of, the church officials simply locked the doors, walked away and listed it with a realtor.  It was a heartbreaking action for those members who loved the church which was their spiritual sanctuary.  The officials left everything behind.  They did not save or retrieve a single thing. 

Recently, my brother, Steve, was able to retrieve ALL of the churches baptism, marriage and funeral records from 1873 to the day the doors closed.  He also retrieved the financial books and the quarterly conference meeting minutes.  I have been scanning every non-financial page and will make the PDF’s available to anyone who wants them when I am finished.

You can’t image my excitement as I witnessed kinfolk after kinfolk showing up as elected officers…the backbone of the church.  Even grampa and gramma Dayton (Wilber and Jessie) were elected church officials several times.

From time to time in future posts, I will be revealing findings and observations.  I even held an elected position once…assistant bell ringer.  Hey…it’s in the official records so it must have been a big deal. Let’s face it, the pastor wouldn’t have known when to start, were it not for us bell ringers. Another Dayton ringer alumnus was Roger Dayton. Congratulations Roger.

Jim Dayton 1967