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First of Two Installments: THE HEAVEN BELOW
Clare Boothe Luce
August 11, 1958
It lay in the crystal waters of a Bahamas reef and was found after days of storm. It was, as always, a place of beauty and adventure, a new world
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August 11, 1958

First Of Two Installments: The Heaven Below

It lay in the crystal waters of a Bahamas reef and was found after days of storm. It was, as always, a place of beauty and adventure, a new world

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"How deep you want to go? Think you can make 30 feet?"

Before pride can give an answer which would put roe in over my depth, Coles says, "If the water is calm and clear we can run the whole gamut of reef fish in 15 to 20 feet."

Art sighs.

Suddenly Louisa, who has been quieter even than Dave, asks Art if he has ever been attacked "down there" by anything. Art grins for the first time.

"Well, once on the Florida Keys, I and my brother and another fellow are diving for jewfish. We run into a bunch of 'em. Small ones are about 200 pounds...."

(This was the first of many "I-and-my-brother" stories, all told with a little deadpan grin, in the present tense. I came to call them "I.A.M.B.s," or "Art's underwater ballads in iambic Pindermeter.")

He goes on: "So I'm coming up off the bottom with a fish when I see this 300-pound jewfish grab the other fellow's arm. Jewfish have got these big fat lips. Afterward, guess what? This fish has peeled off the fellow's underwater watch, strap and all!"

Louisa asks, "And his arm?"

"Oh, it takes most of the skin off that. But this fellow is tough. Now, take a moray eel. They can really hurt if they latch on. Teeth as long as that!" He waves the prongs of a fork at us.

In the dim light of the restaurant I cannot see whether there is a smile in his eyes. However little or much truth there was in the stories of piscatorial murder and mayhem Art Pinder told us that night (the longer I knew him the more truth I came to believe was in them), I am certain that on this occasion Art was indulging in a little hazing of his two dub-diver charges.

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