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Mourning Turned into Joy


November 7, 1932

Tony Orlando, Given Up for Dead Rescued
After Being Adrift
Six Days Without Food or Water

Tony Orlando, 20-year old fisherman, mourned as dead, returned to his home yesterday, emaciated from six nights and six days of suffering, tossing about on the bosom of the ocean, and mourning garb was replaced with borrowed colored clothing as a joyful reunion was held at the home of a friend in the North End of Boston.

Aside from the late Howard Blackburn, Orlando is believed to be the only person locally who has ever drifted so long at sea and returned to tell the story.   Last Sunday morning, Orlando, a one-man crew of the small trawler Paolina, Capt. Mike Orlando, set out to haul his trawls.  He was sent over without any oars, dropped on to the buoy and began to haul, a custom with some small boats which cruise about and when the other end of the trawl is reached, the boat is there to pick the dory up.

But something went wrong with Orlando's gear and when about half-way down the string, the gear parted, leaving him helpless in the open boat.  He had secured about 100 pounds of fish, and with the exception of one of these, he threw the load overboard when it was apparent that his own boat was not going to pick him up.  The remaining one he kept and ate raw, this being the only food the young man had until the lumber-laden schooner Edwin G. Farrar, Capt. Charles M. While, picked him up 25 miles southeast of the Highlands Friday afternoon.

Orlando was in a terrible shape from exposure and hot the boat ever survived the heavy southeast storm which swept the coast  last Tuesday is beyond comprehension.  Feet and hands swollen badly, body almost a shadow of its former robust form, Orlando collapsed on the deck of the lumber schooner as willing hands lifted him over the rail.

The first day that Orlando was adrift, he did not seem to mind as much, except that he was hungry.  With shipping in the lane his dory was drifting, he felt certain that he would be picked up, but as night came on and vessel after vessel passed him by, he became discouraged.  A flashlight which he fortunately carried, was used for four consecutive nights in an effort to signal passing craft, but no aid was at hand.

Orlando was transferred to a coast guard  patrol boat from base 5 yesterday and taken to Boston.  He refused to go to a hospital, saying that he was "all right" and after arriving at the home of Joseph Fucci at 180 North street, his parents were notified.  The father and mother arrived at the Fucci home and discarded their mourning garb to hold a joyous reunion with their only son and their sole support.

"Gee, I knew that I was up against it when that trawl broke," said Orlando last night.  "I had about 100 pounds of cod and haddock in the boat but I threw it overboard and I started shouting.  I think I was about a mile away from the Little Paolina and of course they couldn't hear me.  It was dark, too, about 4.30 Sunday morning, and when the wind began at daylight I started drifting.

"The sea was kind of choppy the first day and in the distance I could make out some big and little boats going past me.  I tried to get them to see me by waving the handkerchief, but they all passed me by.  I even saw my own boat, the Little Paolina, but the fellows on her didn't see me and I felt pretty tough when she went out of sight again.

"It may seem funny to you, but after the first day, I didn't feel very hungry.  The water bothered me most.  My throat sort of closed up and I used to rinse out my mouth with the salt water every once in a while.  There were two tubs in the boat and I put these over the side and tied them with lines.  This was to keep her headed to the wind and it worked pretty good.

"Well, this kept on day after day and night after night.  At night I could see the lights of ships and I as afraid to sleep much because they might run me down.  I had a searchlight in the boat and I kept this lit for the first four days, then the battery burned out.  One night, I think it was Wednesday, it got cold and my hands and feet swelled up.  I guess they were frost bitten.

"One thing kind of funny happened after I had been out there a while.   I imagined that my little cousin, Johnnie Orlando, was with me in the boat.  I guess I must have been out of my head all right.  Anyway, I talked to him and told him that I was sure we would be picked up.  Then I went off to sleep and when I woke up I didn't see Johnnie and I thought he was lost overboard.  Than made me feel pretty bad.

"Thursday night, the night before they picked me up, was the worst of all.  It rained hard.  I had an oilskin coat and hat in the boat, and I put them on.  Then I got the idea of catching a little rain in the hat and even though it was only about half a cupful it was the best water I ever tasted.  But it got cold and I just had this shirt and sweater on under the oilskin.

"My legs were stiff and cramped and I could feel myself getting weaker.  And all the time I was seeing ships as I drifted south, but it didn't do me much good because they didn't see me.  One time a big barge came awful close to me, about half a trawl away, and I was sure that I'd be rescued.  I waved my little flag like a crazy man but she kept right on going for the harbor and there I was still out in the boat all alone.

"You know I had just about given up all hope on Friday when the Farrar came in sight.  I felt too tired to wave the handkerchief at them because all the others had passed me by, and I figured that they wouldn't see me either.  But you can bet I felt like singing when I saw that schooner slow up and the dory lowered to come over and get me.

"They fixed me up  fine on the schooner.  The captain was afraid to let me eat too much at first so he gave me a cup of tea and a few rolls, and was I glad to get into that bunk?  They're great fellows all right.  They even picked up my dory and brought it in on the after deck, but you can take it from me, I never want to see that dory again."


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