Oct. 9 was a special day for senior writer Clive Gammon. Not quite 59 years after his birth in Swansea, Wales, and a decade after he became a resident of this country, Gammon walked into the U.S. District Court in Baltimore and, with 82 others, took the oath of U.S. citizenship. "It moved me," said Gammon. "It's not something you do lightly." Afterward, seven members of the Daughters of the American Revolution congratulated the new citizens and handed each of them a miniature American flag.
The idea of becoming a U.S. citizen never occurred to Gammon in the seven years he lived on Manhattan's cosmopolitan East Side. But in 1984 he and his wife, Juliette, who's English and doesn't plan to become a Yank, moved to Chestertown (pop. 3,300) on Maryland's Eastern Shore. "Living in a small town, I felt more American than I ever did on East 80th Street," says Gammon. "It was time to do something about it."
On his citizenship application, Gammon had to list his overseas trips since he moved to the U.S., which wasn't easy for a soccer, boxing and fishing writer who constantly travels abroad. "They wanted exact dates, times, names of carriers," says Gammon, who spent days with microfilms of his expense reports coming up with the data.
It was easier for Gammon to fulfill another requirement: proving his literacy. Since 1965 he has written some 200 stories for SI—most recently an account in our Oct. 26 issue of a fishing trip to the Kola Peninsula in the U.S.S.R.—but he didn't have to produce any of them. Instead the immigration official settled for Gammon's writing a single sentence: "I am a professional writer."
Among the charms of the Eastern Shore is that it affords Gammon plenty of places to fish, both in the Atlantic and on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Last month the Gammons's three-year-old daughter, Lottie, landed her first catch, a half-pound largemouth bass, at a Chester River Yacht and Country Club pond. "She was absolutely over the moon," says Clive, "doing a little dance and saying a rhyme, 'One, two, three, four, five, catching fishes all alive.' " The Bay area is also known for its remote pockets of dialect where the people speak very much as their ancestors did when they came over from England 300 years ago. "When you overhear people in Rock Hall, a waterman's town near here, you would swear you were in the rural west of England," Gammon says.
The funny thing is, it doesn't make Gammon homesick. "That's what the citizenship thing is about," he says. "You're saying this is my home."