This story was told by Myrna Syvertsen, who gave permission for me to relate it here.
Myrna is from Clark’s Harbour, a town of now just over 800 people on Cape Sable Island on the south shore of Nova Scotia. The town was smaller yet when she was born there during World War II.
Most of the people of Clark’s Harbour rely on fishing to make a living. It was fishing which brought Myrna’s father to Montauk in the early 1950s. Myrna was in her teens when he found employment at Duryea’s and then sent for his family. Myrna returned to Clark’s Harbour to finish school. She ultimately came back to Montauk, married and raised a family of four girls. Today she has numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, both locally and upstate.
Last week Myrna received a phone call. The younger of her Montauk grandsons was in a spot of trouble and needed help.
I’ve known Myrna’s grandson since he was nine. Now he’s in high school and recently got his first car. Last week he met a few of his friends at the beach in downtown Montauk. He parked by one of the hotels and they walked east to Shadmoor State Park. Myrna says Shadmoor has changed. Either erosion has made the park more accessible or boys will be boys. At the ravine they scaled what was left of the cliff and entered the park.
The guys tooled about a bit. Myrna’s grandson tied his shoelace. They saw a hiker and said hello.
The S.O.S. went out to Myrna when they returned to the car and her grandson discovered he no longer had his keys. He recalled they were clutched in his hand, at least up to the point when he tied his shoelaces. He didn’t want them to fall out of his pocket. He remembered the exact spot where he put them down. They scoured the area.
Myrna was pressed into action. She reminds me of Miss Marple. She was logical. She didn’t climb the dangerous cliff. She searched the hotel parking lot. She inquired at the hotel desk and Montauk police precinct to see if anyone had turned in the keys. She decided to go home as there was nothing more to do.
Here’s what I find fascinating.
According to Myrna, her friend Sandy Huser always said, when you lose something, pray to Saint Andrew. Myrna was raised by Canadian Baptists who don’t believe in saints. She said a prayer, something like this: “Saint Andrew, you don’t know me, and I don’t know you. I would like us to become acquainted. I really, really need your help to find my grandson’s car keys.”
An irresistible force, not a voice, more like pulling, made her turn the car and head east to the Shadmoor parking lot. The boys had never been in the parking lot. Myrna searched for quite some time, feeling increasingly peculiar. Something shiny caught her eye. It was a clear plastic map holder, nailed to a wooden signpost at the entrance of the park. Inside, way down at the bottom, she found the keys.
A day later, Myrna met up with Fran Ecker who runs the food pantry at St. Therese church. In the course of their conversation, Ms. Ecker said, “I want to give this to you. I think it’s for you,” and handed Myrna a small St. Andrew medal. According to Myrna, she hadn’t mentioned the lost keys to Ms. Ecker and it seemed impossible Ms. Ecker heard the story in so short a time.
In church this week, when questioned as to how we as a congregation can accept the increasing violence in society, Reverend Bill Hoffmann recalled to us Mr. Rogers, of “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood,” also a Presbyterian minister. Attributed to his mother, Mr. Rogers had a saying. “When things are hard or sad, or when terrible things happen, look for the helpers. There will always be people who help.”
On Friday, April 26, at 7 p.m., Montauk Community Church hosts an informal coffee house in the piano room, located upstairs in back of the Sunday school classrooms. Musical entertainment will be provided by Debbie Coen and Lori Hubbard, also known as, “DebLo.” All are invited and be sure to bring friends. To confirm, please call the church office at 668-2022.
A reminder, the Montauk Library budget vote and trustee election is on Saturday, April 27, from 2 to 8 p.m. at the library. Patrons of the library and Montauk homeowners are encouraged to cast ballots. Please call the library at 668-3377 for specific details.
Arbor Day is celebrated in New York State on Friday, April 26. Visit www.arborday.org to join the Arbor Day Foundation and receive 10 flowering tree saplings for free, designated especially for Montauk. The trees listed for our zip code are white dogwood, crabapple, hawthorn, Eastern redbud and the golden rain tree.