Jackson Park Lifesaving Station

“Busy Day For Two Men Patrolling Lake Michigan”
By: Scott W. Bundschuh

On Saturday the 11th day of June 1932 at 2:00 p.m. Office-in-Charge Fred E. Stebbins and Surfman No. 2 Frank Floyd Petoski left from Jackson Park Lifesaving Station in the newly painted “Motor Surfboat No. 3718.” Fred and Frank were “On Patrol” along the southern end of Lake Michigan near the “City of Chicago.” The two men were responsible for looking after the outboard racers who were participating in the “Century of Progress.” Fred and Frank were stationed at the foot of 20th Street, on the south end of the race course. They arrived at their assigned point at 2:30 p.m. Some thirty minutes later outboard motor boat no. “V-148” with its driver became swamped and was very close to Fred and Frank. According to the station logbook entry the man was rescued from the water. They took his motor boat in tow and landed it at the foot of 18th Street boat landing. Fred Stebbins and Frank Petoski raced immediately back to their position. Around 4:00 p.m. outboard motor boat no. “V-251” capsized a little further away from them. They went immediately out and rescued the driver from the water. They towed the motor boat to the foot of 18th Street. We again raced back to our position at 20th Street. Some thirty minutes later a “Dodge,” make: “Runabout” motor boat no. “S-517” with two men aboard capsized near us. We rescued both men and took this runabout motor boat in tow off 18th Street. Unfortunately out tow line broke and “S-517” sank. We left the scene and went straight to “Old Chicago Lifesaving Station.” We borrowed their small “Dock Scow” and towed it to where the boat sank. We secured a new line to the sunken craft. We had to use our hand crank and some muscle to raise her to the surface. We secured her to the “Dock Scow,” towed near shoreline. Once we getting closer to shoreline, we pulled our “Dock Scow” alongside the much larger “Derrick Scow.” The crew from the “Derrick Scow,” the two of us passed lines under the bow and stern of the “Runabout.”  We managed to raise her onto the scows deck that sat just above the waterline. Once the “Runabout” was on deck we bailed the water out of her by pail. Once she was pretty empty we turned the boat back over to its owner: Mr. Daniel Jaffer who resided at 2331 East 67th Street.

At 7:30 p.m: an “Unknown Man” came into the lifesaving station and reported that a “Boy” had drowned just off the 39th Street pier. We immediately left the station and made our way down the lake. We arrived on scene shortly after 7:45 p.m. We setup our drag lines and proceeded to drag the area until 8:00 p.m. Shortly thereafter we received some information that the boy had not drowned, however someone did observe a “Body” bobbing up and down out in lake. After we searched that area for about forty-five minutes we assumed the winds and strong tides must have push the unidentified “Body” further out into Lake Michigan. Officer-in-Charge Fred E. Stebbins and Surfman No. 2 Frank F. Petoski abandoned the search and returned to Jackson Park Lifesaving Station at 8:55 p.m. The two men stowed their gear, wrote up the reports on each incident and Frank Petoski called it a night just before he went to sleep. Officer-in-Charge Stebbins made his final inspection of the station, completed his final report for the day and turned in for the night.
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