Skating Party Comes to Grief

What Came Very Near Being Fatal Accident Occurred When the Ice at Pond Gave Way.

All Andover people were greatly alarmed and almost frenzied with apprehension Tuesday January 12th 1932 evening when the fire alarm sounded and it became known that a party of young people, skating on the Andover pond had broken thru the rotten ice and were unable to get out without assistance.

A number of young people had arranged a skating party on the pond.  They were Frank Weinhauer, Helen and Alice Pope, Farnham Pope, Roger Tuttle, Conrad Church, Ruth Slocum and Boyd Rogers.  Of these only four were skating, the others just going for the fun.  Frank Weinhauer, a novice at skating, had a skate come loose, Alice Pope went to help him fasten it and the weight of the two was too much for the thin rotten ice, it broke and in they went.  They screamed for help and all the others went to their assistance.  They formed a chain by taking hold of hands to help them out, but the ice broke and let them all into the icy water of the pond. Efforts from them to get out and on more solid ice met with little success.  But finally in some marvelous manner they all managed to get to safety except Weinhauer, Rogers and Alice Pope.  About this time Conrad Church, seeing this trouble rushed out to help them, but the ice gave way with him before he reached them and in he went.

The boys in the water lifted Alice Pope to the top of the ice and she, lying flat, rolled to safety.  Miss Helen Pope was changing her shoes when the cries for help reached her on shore.  She ran in her stocking feet to the Jack Dolan home nearby and gave the alarm to the telephone central, who put in a fire alarm and the whole town, it would seem, rushed to the rescue.

Gordon Steadman and Jack Dolan went at once to the scene of the accident.  Steadman secured about 40 feet of heavy rope and succeeded in getting it to Church and pulled him out.  But when the others tried they could not hold on to it, their hands were so benumbed with the cold.

Francis Cable, getting on the job about that time seized an old ladder and rushed to the rescue, and would undoubtedly have been successful had not the ladder broken and he went into join the party, making three now in the icy water.  This proved to be most fortunate, for the poor lads had become nearly paralyzed with the cold and shock.  Cable found his hands more than full in keeping the lads’ heads above water.  He had to wait, holding them by main strength for nearly 30 minutes until a boat was secured and ran out to them on top of the ice to the perishing youths.

About this time Supt. W. G. Pope had heard of the accident and got on the rescuing squad.  Steadman and Pope, after a hard tussle, succeeded in getting the three, Weinhauer, Rogers and Cable into the boat, Two Unconscious and Cable nearly a collapse.  Then to get the boat with five in it thru the ice proved impossible until Frank Emery came to the rescue and got planks out to the boat, getting the boat on the planks and pulling it ashore was no mean task but it was accomplished, but not before the two lads who had then been in the ice water nearly an hour were nearly gone.  They were rushed to the Dolan home, Dr. Samuel Scott was called and resuscitating the party rewarded his most efficient service.

Weinhauer and Rogers were taken to the Jones Memorial Hospital at Wellsville where the report is that they are slowly recovering from the ice water bath and all hope a speedy recovery.

The heroism of Francis Cable was one of the outstanding features of this sorrowful episode.  His forethought in keeping Weinhauer and Rogers from sinking beneath the water is all that saved their lives.  In appreciation of his heroism, Andover people quickly raised a fund Wednesday morning and presented him with a $10 gold coin.  His action should be cited to the Carnegie Hero Committee.

While Andover people are all happy that no casualties occurred in this accident they feel that it is fortunate indeed that these young people are alive today.  They, with others, should let this be a lesson to them that the judgment of older heads is better that that of youth in these matters.  Had they asked almost any adult person, they would have been told that ice after a thaw, even if it is an inch and a half thick, is a mighty dangerous thing to trust one’s life on.  In fact the ice on the Andover pond has not been safe so far this year for skating.

This is where the story ended for over 53 years, until someone found it and thought that something ought to be done for Francis Cable for saving these young peoples lives at the risk of his very own.

I don’t have a clue as to who sent the letter or to whom they sent it to.  But on February 26th 1985 Francis E. Cable got his much overdue recognition.  President Ronald Reagan awarded Mr. Cable with a Presidential Citation for his bravery in saving two boys from the ice water of the Andover Pond.

A much deserved and long overdue award was where it belonged.

Story taken from files of the Andover News
Submitted by William A. Greene 2006