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Thursday, June 22, 2017

"WE'LL JUST DENY EVERYTHING" (17)

 July 1960   Cohasset to Scituate  
     Wes and Marion Marsh arrived at the house at 6:00 p.m.  We drove down to the Yacht Club and found the Sturgeon from Elliott, Maine, just drawing up to the dock.  The five men aboard wondered if it would be all right to spend the night tied up to the dock.  They were on their way to New York, they said, but it was getting pretty thick out, so they ducked into Cohasset.
     Ed told them we were on our way to Scituate Harbor and they were welcome to use our mooring for the night.  While Ed and Wes went out to get the Happy Days; Marion and I chatted with the men.  They decided they’d like to follow us to Scituate because they’d be that much closer to New York.  Ed warned them he was going to take a short cut and not to be nervous if they found themselves surrounded by rocks.  So they steamed along trustingly behind us and we brought them safely into port.
     After Happy Hour we feasted on four enormous lobsters provided by Marion.  We discussed politics. Marion and Wes don’t think much of either Nixon or Kennedy and Wes has half a mind, he said, not to vote at all.  Ed doubted his stand would have much effect on the election result.
Saturday, July 30, 1960, Scituate Harbor to Cohasset
5:00 p.m.  This day has been hardly worth writing about, thanks to tropical storm Brenda.  Pelting rain, pattering rain, drizzling rain.  Wind.  More rain.
     Have late breakfast and scamper back to homeport.  Sit around in deckhouse, grumble about the weather, and read our books.  But wait, is that a ray of sun we see? The rain stops, the sky brightens.        Ed has gone home to take a shower and shave, leaving orders for the crew to tidy up the boat, which is indeed a mess.  I proposed that he stay and clean up the mess while I went home to shower and shave, but he never listens to me.
     Ed’s report on the home front:  Mom is fixing a Surprise for my birthday.  I know what it is. I just know she is painting the kitchen.  Kathie has been invited to the Ocean View by the Portas to do some waitressing.  (Timmy is there now, bus-boying with his buddy, Neil Porta.)
Charcoaled a steak, turned in early.
Sunday, July 31, 1960
     Hurricane Brenda exited tamely and the sea is only slightly disturbed by her memory.  Spent the day patrolling the Stellwagon Ledge but didn’t run into any action.  Feel sorry for yachtsmen who were deterred by small craft warnings--they missed out on a fine day.
     Reached homeport 5:00 p.m.
Friday, August 4, 1960, Cohasset to Oak Bluffs
     Left Cohasset with Mr. and Mrs. Barnyard, as my mother persists in calling them, at 5:30 p.m.  Ed has had numerous mechanics and trouble-shooters working diligently on the boat all week, has spent I’d-just-as-soon-not-know-how-many-$$$$$, and it really is marvelous what they have accomplished.  They have secured the future of themselves and their children and all their relatives for the next hundred years.  Aside from that, it would take a detective to ferret out what they accomplished.  That’s all we need to add to the payroll--a detective.  And a ferret.
     Things that are still not working:  the automatic pilot, the snifter, the controls levers (these work, sort of, but under protest), the water pressure switch, the compass light, the masthead light, the throttles (sometimes these work and sometimes they’d rather not).
     Ed and Jack worked on the masthead light while I navigated from the flying bridge and Con-Con sat  beside me with her knitting.  Every now and then the fellows would ask if the light was on, and they looked so earnest and appealing that I longed to say, “Yes, it’s on.”   They finally got the thing going just as night fell.  It began to drizzle, so Con and I abandoned our posts for the sake of our coiffures. 
     We were held up in the east end of the Canal because the railroad bridge was down.  Whether it was stuck, and if so, for how long, no one seemed to know.  The chaps at the Army-Engineer’s station advised us to tie up and wait.  When Ed tried to maneuver the Happy Days up to the dock, he discovered that he had no reverse on either engine. Bearing this in mind, he finally managed to edge close enough to toss a couple of lines to the fishermen on the dock.
     While we waited for the R.R. bridge to do something, not just stand there, Ed and Jack worked on the controls.  Ed, making an adjustment on the engine: “Where is it now, Jack?”  Jack, examining the position of the clutch: “Back to reverse.”
     Barbara, examining the position of the clutch: “It is not, it’s in neutral.”
     Jack: “Right now, neutral is reverse and forward is neutral.”
     Barbara: “Oh.”
     The R.R. bridge eventually removed itself from our way and we proceeded up the canal, men at the topside controls, Con and I snugly ensconced in the deckhouse. We had been told that if we heard two thumps above our heads, we were to dash to the controls and pull back the throttles because the topside throttles--guess what—didn’t work. 
      “First time I’ve ever acted as a brake,” said Con.
     “You are more of an accelerator type,” I said.
     Recognizing the importance of our assignment, we stayed alert and on the job for fifteen minutes, then took naps.  Woke up when Jack rushed down to pull back on the throttles because we were going through that trouble maker, Wood’s Hole.
     “Look at all those dreadful eddies!” Connie squealed.
     “Watch your language, woman,” I said loyally.
     Con couldn’t understand why we didn’t get closer to the beacon just in front of us.  It took us a while to figure out that the beacon was a navigation light on top of a sailboat.
     Reached Oak Bluffs at 1:30 a.m.  Had a drink to celebrate our arrival, had dinner--crackers and cheese.
     Jack observed that Ed’s sneakers were pretty frayed.
      “Frayed?  They’re terrified,” said Eddie.       
Saturday, August 6, 1960, Oak Bluffs
     Ed got up at 8:30 and took a swim.  After awhile the rest of us got up and joined him.  Later we learned that the harbor is so polluted even fish won’t swim in it.
     The Captain and I tried to dress at the same time in our little forward cabin--not as much fun as making love in a telephone booth.
     Ed, tapping on the door of the Barnards’ stateroom: “Are you decent, Connie?”
     Connie: “Oh my goodness, wait till I throw something on!”
     Barbara to Ed: “Why don’t you go through the hatch?”
     Ed: “I’m coming through, Connie, I won’t look.”
     Barbara to Ed: “Why don’t you go through the porthole?”
     Ed: “Why, you’re decent enough, Connie.”
     Barbara to herself: “Hmm, how decent is decent enough for The Profile?”
     Jack made delicious buttermilk pancakes for breakfast.
     Timmy and Neil showed up in the Portas’ runabout and Tim’s first words were, “Dad, I want to tell you how I can save you two hundred dollars.” Ed is leery of children and other sharpies who start off with a pitch like that.  “I’ve turned off my hearing aid,” he said.
     What Timmy wanted was an aqualung.  The man would give him free lessons, free, Dad, and the lung would cost two hundred dollars less than the outboard he’d been promised for his birthday.  No, said Dad, and for the rest of the day whenever we encountered Timmy we heard a new sales pitch.  It  got so Ed was saying no before Timmy even opened his mouth.
     Went ashore around noon, had a beer at Portas’ bar, met Neil’s older brother David, talked to our older daughter.  Kathie said she was having a wonderful time, could go out every night of the week to beach parties if she wanted to, only the boys weren’t her type because they stayed up until 3:00 or 4:00 and drank too much.  Guess she’s not going to fall in love with a father image.
     Returned to the Happy Days for our bathing suits, were driven by Gene Porta to South Beach in his station wagon--eleven of us. Ed, Kathie, and I sat on the tailgate, and every time we went over a bump, Gene tried his best to bump us off.
OCEAN VIEW HOTEL PHOTO BY CONNIE
GENE PORTA, ME, ED, JACK BARNARD
     The water was lovely and there was just enough surf to provide excitement.  The shore shoaled up so fast that one minute you were on top of a wave, the next you were dumped on your hands and knees in two inches of water.  Tim and Neil stayed in all afternoon and were covered with scrapes and cuts.
     Con and I had a nap on the Happy Days; Ed and Jack worked on the controls.  I heard Jack say, “What would you like, Ed?” and hastily rose to make sure Ed had a hard-boiled egg before he had what he liked. 
     Happy Hour was reduced to Harried Half Hour due to the Captain’s rush-rush-rushing us, we mustn’t keep the Portas waiting, they were expecting us at 6:30 and here it was 7:00 already. 
    At Portas’ bar I asked Gene to make me a White Velvet—Connie’s name for the drink I invented, Vodka and beer.  He was dubious but obliging.
     Grace joined us for a roast-beef dinner.  Kathie refused to wait on us, but Timmy had no qualms about being our busboy; it gave him an excellent chance to renew his arguments.  (Dad, it’s no more dangerous than taking a bath, more people slip and fall in bathtubs than—“   “No,” said his father.)
      Back to the Ocean View for a nightcap.  The Portas pulled their old trick of refusing to let us pay for anything, so Jack and Ed figured out the tab and took care of the matter with Neil’s sister Carol.
     Out to the Happy Days for more nightcaps.  Played bridge.  At 12:30, Ed went into the dock to pick up the Portas who had agreed to join us when the bar closed.
     Con told me to be sure to write down all the hilarious things that were said but I can’t recall a single one, nor can she.  At 3:00 or thereabouts Con discovered that the money we had given Carol was up on the bulkhead.  Gene is the stubbornest, contrariest, most unreasonable of men.
     David Porta’s description of his brother and Timmy bus-boying when the dining room is busy: “They look like Keystone Cops, whipping in and out of the doors, nudging, pointing to customers, and each saying to the other, `You do it, no you do it.’”
Sunday, August 7, 1960, Oak Bluffs to Nantucket
     A great day.  Connie and Jack got up early, took the dinghy, and went to the beach for a bracing "fim,” as Con puts it when she lapses into baby talk.  Had breakfast, pulled up anchor, and headed for Nantucket.
     Arrived at noon, gassed up; stuffed bathing gear into canvas bag and signaled for launch service.  Had hamburgers at Yacht Club snack bar, strolled to bus stop, Con and I waiting while the fellows went to look for Sunday papers.  Connie had her usual admonition for Jack: “If you don’t find a Times, don’t come back.” 
SUNBATHING WIITH CONNIE AND JACK
     Barnards were impressed with integrated bathhouse at the Jettys.  Connie found a knothole and peeked at us and I peeked back.  Never, especially politically, have we seen so eye-to-eye.  Sunbathed, swam, had a running commentary on figures, physiques and tans, Connie’s mostly in bwaby-talk. 
     Eddie said: “The only other female know who talks like that is Daisy,”
     Jack said. “Eddie, I think you have just done me an enormous favor.”
     Back aboard the Happy Days by 6:00, showered, put on our finery for an evening on the town.
     Barnards were inclined to favor dinner at the Opera House, an idea I opposed because I recall enough of my high school French to know what a la carte means.  They take away your money in a cart and come back with a wheelbarrow for the tip.  Then Eddie and I had a conference and he said: “What the hell is an extra ten dollars, we’ve probably spent a hundred dollars on gas alone this weekend.” I turned a deaf ear because the cost of gas while cruising is something I don’t like to hear about.
     So we went to the Opera House, and it wasn’t too crowded, the service was excellent, and the food likewise.  I sampled Ed’s Scampi, recommended last year by Porter Johnson. When it comes to shrimp, Porter knows his garlic.
     Finished dining at 9:45.  Didn’t feel in the mood for dashing back to the Yacht Club to catch the last launch, figured we’d hire “Paul’s Livery” to take us to the boat when we were ready.  Con-Con suggested we take a walk to the far end of the main street in order to see the Starbuck houses, built many years ago by a ship’s captain for his three sons.  They are called East Brick, West Brick, and Middle Brick and are very attractive aside from their names.
     Had trouble finding Paul’s Livery.  Ed led us up and down one alley after another, and I reminisced about the evening two years ago when Blake and I had a wild time chasing Willow-the-Wisp Jayne and her consort (Ed) all over these same alleys.
     Finally found Paul’s dock but Paul had locked up and gone home.  The question was, how were we going to get out to the Happy Days?  For an old pirate like Ed, the answer was ridiculously simple.
     “We’ll steal a boat,” he said.   
     “Borrow,” said Jack with a lawyerly flinch.
     It took us a while to find a tender equipped with oars and no padlock, but at last we spotted one.  Connie, Ed and I waited on a nearby landing and watched Jack trying to unravel his way out of a tangle of lines from other boats, intricately attached in some mysterious fashion to “our boat.”  He looked like a man wrestling in a nightmare with a tremendous cat’s cradle.  When he was finally free, he rowed over to pick us up and we started for the Happy Days with many a giggle from the girls, answered by a nervous shhh from the boys. Jack’s conscience was bothering him so much, you could almost see it standing there, shaking its fore-finger.  
     “We’ll just deny everything,” said Ed, quoting attorney Blake Thaxter. 
     Shhh!” said Jack.
     It was Ed’s idea that we’d all have a drink first, and then he and Jack would tow the borrowed skiff to Cat’s Cradle Dock.  It was my idea that business should come before pleasure; and besides I didn’t approve of husbands going back to the vicinity of the Mating Corner with another drink under their belts and without their wives.  I didn’t say anything, though—there’s more than one way to thwart a Captain.
     We climbed out of the skiff one by one and when Ed started up the ladder with the line, I helpfully put out my hand.  He gave it to me without hesitation.  When he turned his back, I tossed the line into the skiff, which proceeded to float rapidly away from our stern.  Hardly able to contain myself, I burst into the cabin and confessed to Connie what I had done.
     At the same moment Ed had become aware of what he thought he had done. “I don’t know how I could have been so stupid, Jack,” he said.  “I could have sworn I had that thing securely fastened.  Well, we’ll have to postpone our drink and go after it.”
     The fellows lowered the dinghy from its davits and set off in pursuit of the drifting boat.  I was struck by another idea while they were gone.  “Let’s turn off all the lights and hide in the shower.  They’ll never think of looking for us there.  They’ll think something’s happened to us and we can listen, like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn at their own funerals.”
     Connie was cooperative, although I sensed she wasn’t wild about my plan. When we heard the boys’ voices in the distance we skittered below and hid behind the shower curtain.  There was barely room for Connie, me, and Connie’s bust.  We tried not to give ourselves away with any snickers.  At least I tried not to snicker.  Connie is the most impassive sardine I’ve ever played sardines with.  She is a great gal, a dandy bridge player, and certainly not a teetotaler, but she lacks Jayne’s (and my) madcap sense of adventure.
     We heard Ed say, “The lights are out, I’ll bet they’re hiding.”
     They looked everywhere except in the shower.  Jack opened the door of the head, peered in and said “Nope!” while I held my hand over my mouth.  Connie was merely smothering a yawn. 
     “Eddie, where can they be?” Jack said, sounding genuinely anxious.
     “They’re around somewhere,” Ed replied unconcernedly.  “I’ve been through this before.  Let’s make a drink.” 
      I can hear him now at my funeral: “Let’s make a drink.”
     “Yes, we mustn’t act worried, Eddie old boy,” Jack said worriedly.  “That’s exactly what they want us to do, of course.”
     “Who’s worried?” said Ed.
     “But you’ve got to admit it’s pretty strange.  Do you suppose they swam over to one of these other boats?  Or someone picked them up or something?”
     Jack made another tour of the boat.  “Say, here’s the dress Con was wearing!  That’s a good sign.  Or is it?”
     At this, even the inscrutable Mrs. Barnard couldn’t repress a tiny giggle. 
     Then we heard sounds in the stern--as of something being done with the dinghy, perhaps?  “Good Heaven, Brabs," (she’s the only friend who calls me that—a combination of Sally’s “Braaa,” brayed into my ear every morning and Mother’s “Babs”) Connie whispered, “what if they suddenly up and leave?  Maybe we should saunter out now and relieve their minds.”
     I envisioned the two of them standing on the Mating Corner, watching all the girls go by and hoping that among them they might not see us.
     So we sauntered out and Jack was vastly relieved and Ed was vastly disappointed.  We had a drink and started a game of bridge.  Ed said he still didn’t understand how he could have been such a dope as to let the skiff get away from him.  When Connie told him who the dope was, he was so relieved at being vindicated, he didn’t get mad at me.
     Weather report for tomorrow not favorable.
August 8, 1960, Nantucket to Cohasset
     Ed got up at 7:00, observed that the wind was coming up and decided it was time to get going.  Left Nantucket at 7:40.  Quarterly following sea in the Sound, not too uncomfortable--in fact Connie slept like a baby in a cradle all the way to Wood’s Hole.
      Buzzard’s Bay was not as rough as we had expected except at the Canal end where the boat suddenly began veering violently from one side to the other.  Once in the Canal, she tamed down and we progressed slowly against a heavy tide.
     Con-Con made lunches for all of us--chicken salad, potato salad, pickles.  That girl has a real flair with a lettuce leaf; even Eddie was seduced and abandoned his diet.
     Encountered heavy fog in Cape Cod Bay.  Fog lifted considerably as we approached Massachusetts Bay. 
      “Good Lord, Brabs,” said Connie, “how does Eddie know when he’s going from one bay into another?”  
     “There’s a line he follows,” said Jack.  “Difficult thing to maintain—all those little floats.”
     Ed called the office and reported that Grandpa sounded reasonably good-natured.  Business was especially good last month, which ought to pay for a few gallons of gas.
      Arrived at Cohasset 6:45.  Men went ashore to check on things at home.  Con and I showered and dressed, sat in cockpit, enjoying the evening’s atmosphere.  It was soft and glowing, the water was like glass, and it was hard to believe there was such a thing as February. 
     Men returned. Charcoaled steak.    Perfect end to a perfect weekend.
Sunday, August 14, 1960, Cohasset

BETTY EATON AND BETTY DUSSOSOIT, FONDLY
 KNOWN AS BETTY DO AND BETTY DON'T
     Stag cruise yesterday on which I was not in.  In on which I was not?  At any rate, I stayed home while Ed, Ted, Jan Moyer, Ken Neal, and Eddie DeSanto took a day sail.  My contribution was to provide for the inner men--stuffed eggs and several thousand sandwiches.
     Another day sail today, much nicer because I was present. Expected to arrive at the Yacht Club were the Dusossoits, Eatons, and Morses.  Had nine lobsters on hand, three of which were alive and kicking because of a misunderstanding between lobster lady and myself.  Started small flame in alcohol burner in order to cook lobsters, forgot to turn off alcohol, small flame waxed unchecked into big flourishing fire.  No one aware of fire except me.  Me very much aware.
     “Would someone please call Ed,” I asked a number of times.  We hadn’t left the dock yet and Ed was  standing out there talking to people, oblivious to the fact that his boat might go up in flames any minute.
     “Ed!  Hey Ed!” I kept calling while no one paid any attention.  Finally Louis detected a note of panic in my voice and said, “Is anything wrong?”
     “The galley’s on fire.  I think we should use the fire extinguisher.”
     “The fire extinguisher!  Where’s the fire extinguisher!” Don Morse said excitedly, running around in a circular manner. 
     “I don’t know,” I said. “Ask Ed.”           
     By the time the captain arrived the conflagration was on the wane and the use of the fire extinguisher was unnecessary.  No damage except a few scorched towels and a few nervous passengers.  I told the nervous passengers about the time Ed boozily told guests he had plenty of fire preservers and life extinguishers.)
     Off to a late start because of the lateness of the Dusossoits. It suddenly occurred to the Eatons that their daughter Sunny might have forgotten that she was supposed to sit for the Dussosoits.  Argument between Betty and Louis as to who should call home.  You do it,”  “No, you do it,” like Timmy and Neil bus-boying.
     Eventually, all our guests safely aboard, we headed for the Stellwagon Ledge.  Fisherman’s luck continues to be non-exixtent this summer, but a restful day was appreciated by all. I finished reading “The Big Ward,” then both Bettys took turns leafing through it.  Very sad little story about an elderly woman, which made us realize our days of nimbly skimming up boat ladders and racing around on tennis courts are numbered.
Sunday, August 21, 1960, Cohasset
     Hurricane Cleo proved to be all threat and no action.  We could have had a beautiful weekend on the boat if we hadn’t listened to the radio and read the newspapers.
     Today’s weather warm, muggy, hazy.  Ed told me to put the beer on the ice and I said, “What ice?”  The chunk put aboard Thursday for the cruise we didn’t take had shrunk to the size of a shoe box, so the Captain’s first chore of the day was to get out the outboard motor and putt over to the Salt House for ice.  I made up the bunks in the guest stateroom for the Brewers, who are going to Provincetown with us next Friday.
     Went out to Flat Ledge and anchored.  Had beer, crackers and cheese.  Had nap.  I was awakened by rain drumming on the hatch over my head.  Thought I was on the boat with Connie, for some reason, and that she was pouring water on the hatch in order to wake me up.  Got up, still groggy, and stumbled up to the deckhouse where I was surprised to find Ed.  “l almost said, “What are you doing here?”


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