A Never Told Story of Heroism

By Frank McCarthy '55

It was a Saturday in the winter of '51-'52.

Lee Mann, Jimmy Ball, and I were freshmen at Mepham and they were giving me, a North Merrick guy, a tour of their neck of the woods-the canals down by Cameron's Pond (aka Camman's Pond). We were all walking on the ice, and Lee cautioned that as we got closer to the bay and salt water, the ice got softer.

Minutes later, Jimmy, somewhat ahead of us, went through the ice. His head never went under, and he quickly got his hands and arms up on the ice. I remember Lee was hollering instructions, but Jimmy just couldn't get his body up on the ice. All of a sudden, Lee turned to me and said "Wait here." He got over to Jimmy and jumped in feet first.

Then, in almost one move, Lee got under Jimmy and pushed him up onto the solid ice. While Jimmy was making his way toward shore, Lee, seemingly with a scissor kick, shot himself up onto the ice and made his way toward land also.

The three of us, running, headed north to Babylon Turnpike toward both of their respective homes. When we got to Lee's street, he peeled off saying he'd be fine, that I should stick with Jimmy and make sure he got home safely. A few blocks later we did just that.

The next day, since nobody got pneumonia or even a cold, the event was pretty much forgotten.

Every year when I watch It's a Wonderful Life, I'm reminded of what Lee did that day, how he did it without hesitation and as far as I know never mentioned it again.

I hope you don't mind Lee; I just thought it needed telling.

[Ed Note: Jimmy Ball is deceased; he died in Germany many years ago. Lee Mann lives in Moravia, NY. Frank lives in Belle Harbor, NY, and thought we'd enjoy hearing of this never told story.]