In 1978 my brother Branch Fields lost his dear wife Ruth to cancer. They had celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary earlier that year.
In 1979 Branch came east to visit family and friends in North Carolina, and he also managed to spend a few days with us in Columbia, Maryland. We really enjoyed his time with us, and he had the opportunity to do lots of sightseeing in our nation’s capital. The following year we had another visit from Branch, and this time he brought his wife Helen with him. They had recently married. Helen was a delightful, outgoing person, and we enjoyed their visit very much. I remember that we dined at the recently opened Crab Shanty restaurant in Ellicott City and shared a superb seafood dinner.
Before their visit with us, Branch and Helen spent time with family and friends in North Carolina. They also did a bit of sightseeing. Out of that trip comes the following story. I can’t be certain that I’m correct on all details, but this is the way I remember the tale being told to me.
Branch and Helen had been with our sister Roberta Fields Carruth and family in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and were now planning a trip to the Outer Banks. They travelled east with the intention of boarding the ferry for Ocracoke Island. Joy Carruth was riding in the back seat of Branch and Helen’s car, and sister Berta and her husband Paul, a Methodist minister, were following in their own automobile. Branch was running late and feared they would miss the ferry, so he was going considerably above the posted speed limit. Paul was a half mile or so behind. Suddenly Paul spotted a state patrol car coming toward him from the other direction. The trooper went past Paul’s car, turned his vehicle around, and sped after Branch with his siren wailing.
A minute or so later Paul and Berta arrived on the scene and found Branch trying to talk his way out of a ticket. Branch explained to the officer that he was trying to catch the ferry to Ocracoke. Furthermore, he introduced Helen as his bride and told the officer that they were on their honeymoon. Branch then turned to the lovely young lady in his back seat and identified her as his niece Joy Carruth. At that critical moment in the conversation Paul exited his car and approached. The officer looked up nervously, but Branch reassured him by saying, “And this is my brother-in-law, the Reverend Paul Carruth.”
The patrol officer pocketed his ticket book and threw up his hands. “Get out of here!” he said.
Branch and Helen got to the ferry on time.