It was 1974. I remember touring Martha’s Vineyard with my family in a beach buggy and one of the stops was to see a mechanical shark being filmed in a movie to be released the following year. I remember looking at the long piece of metal resembling the body of a great white, covered partly by a white sheet, and thinking, “Big deal.”
Being a 14-year-old brat, I didn’t care about this mechanical “Jaws” and wanted to hit the gift shops. But Jaws was everywhere; in every gift shop window his photo was plastered on toys, coffee mugs, tee-shirts, kiddy pocketbooks, and the book was being promoted too. Later that summer, a middle school chum of mine received bragging rights because he got to be one of the extras running out of the water and screaming in that memorable shark attack beach scene from the movie. Jaws was big that summer.
I grew up on Cape Cod and I’ve seen plenty of seals and have had Humpback whales swim under boats that I’ve been a passenger on. I've caught baby sharks while deep sea fishing (only to throw them back) but I have never seen a large shark up close and personal (only the mechanical, famous one in 1974).
Yet this week, the big news is that there was a shark attack off the coastline near the National Seashore. The swimmer, Chris Myers, was attacked below both knees and one of the rescuers reported that the injury was so bad that you could see bone. The victim was first brought to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis and then transferred to Mass General in Boston where he underwent surgery. Fortunately, his injuries are not life-threatening. He told attendants at the hospital that he was attacked by a shark.
Not since 1936 has there been a reported shark attack off Cape Cod.
But on Monday of this week, Chris Myers, father of two, swimming 80 yards off shore, changed history. The Truro beach’s parking lot has been filled with TV crews and the media has been buzzing that “Jaws is back.”
The media is wrong; Jaws never left.