Pages

Sunday, July 23, 2017

(3) ALDEN GOT INTO THE SKIFF WITH A LEAP AND A CLATTER THAT NEARLY SANK US.

Saturday, May 25, 1957, Cohasset to Gloucester
     We have never before had our boat in the water so early in the season.  A few things left to be done—in fact, Jim Gracie was taking the Lord’s name in vain when we arrived on the pier this afternoon.  He had just snapped the handle on the clutch gear and was laboring in the Black Hole of Calcutta making repairs.  The doorknob of the forward cabin door was off and, not noticing this fact, I shut it, much to Jim’s further distress.  He had to take the hinges off to get it open again.  The final straw came when Ed and Jim started to haul the dinghy up to the davits and one of the seats tore loose.  All these mishaps were entertaining to me, but I found I was laughing alone.
     Had a pleasant run over to Gloucester, docked at a marina in Smith’s Cove. Saw Bill Brown’s boat in a nearby slip.  Had showers and went looking for a taxi, saw a bus going our way and rode into the city of Gloucester.  Had in mind finding an oyster bar but nothing appealing turned up.  Found a place similar to Charlie Antoine’s Salt House where we purchased some freshly boiled lobster meat for an hors d’oeuvre.  Started nibbling as we departed from shop, tasted so good we turned around and went back for more.  
     Had charcoal-broiled steak, watched TV on our little new portable, worked on my article about the Remicks' Witch-Way.  Ed read what I’ve written so far, thought it was amusing, also thought I’d better change Ray’s name to Smith.
P.S.  Gremlins still at work.  Ed leaned over the side of the boat to shake out the Hibachi grille.  Splash--out fell the grate.  Must remember to tell Alden he’s not the only one to pull this stunt.
Sunday, May 26, 1957, Gloucester to Cohasset
     Saw Bill Brown working on his boat this morning, invited him over for a drink at noon.  He and Jane climbed aboard a few minutes after Ed had listened to weather report predicting south-westerly winds 20-30 miles an hour.  So anxious to get going that he was a poor host.  
     “Just thought I’d warm up the engines,” he said, and warm them up he did, with a frightful din.  Jane, Bill, and I shouted pleasantries at each other while Ed stood around looking as if he thought our guests would never finish their drinks. 
    Had a fine trip home with winds up to three miles an hour at most.
Saturday, June 1, 1957, Cohasset to Scituate
     Came aboard at 1:30 p.m. with a suitcase, magazines, groceries.  Coastguard Temporary Reserve was poking around the harbor, inspecting boats, and our turn soon arrived.  Everything was in order.
     Loafed for couple of hours, then cruised over to Scituate Harbor where we had a date with the Pinkhams for the Yacht Club opening dinner.  Reids and Tonrys also present.
     During cocktail hour went boat-hopping. Particularly impressed with Lou Tonry’s big schooner.  Saw John Quinlan and his sister Mary with whom I used to play hopscotch back in elementary school.  Danced for an hour after dinner, then folded.  Florence was tired, too, so under protests from Alden, we went down to the dock, looking for launch service.  No launch service.  Piled into Pinkham’s skiff, Alden getting in with a leap and a clatter that nearly sank us.  Claimed he did it on purpose to demonstrate how seaworthy his skiff was compared to ours.
Sunday, June 2, 1957, Scituate to Cohasset
     Small craft warnings up.  Enjoyed several lazy hours chatting and playing a sort of round-robin bridge  game with Reids and Pinkhams aboard Seabird.  Florence prepared a steak dinner and served hot blackberry pie for dessert. Learned of Warren’s motto for Alden, as hapless skipper of the Seabird— “Think before you goof!” 
     This would make a good title for a Yachting article with Alden as a Hairbreadth-Harry type and Florence the beautiful maiden in distress.  When it comes to material, this man is a gold mine.
     [I did write an article about Alden’s various boating mishaps, most of which we either witnessed or he recounted himself.  He read the result, thought it was hilarious, and gave it his seal of approval.  Yachting accepted the article but didn’t publish it for four years.  Unfortunately, by that time, Alden was being reviewed for a promotion, and the article was not seen as hilarious by the big Navy brass. His promotion was postponed for another year. ]
     Mid-afternoon excitement when the fellows observed Coastguard dashing across the harbor.  Cruiser was in trouble, half-sunk.  Watched Coastguard pumping her out, regretted we had neglected to bring camera.  Alden had his camera, though. Kept calling “Here, Caesar” to Coastguard’s canine mascot because he wanted the dog to be looking at him when he took the pictures.
     Florence tells us Alden is known as Mr. Hornblower because of his fondness for summoning launch service several times a day.
     As we were leaving Scituate Harbor at 4:00 p.m., Florence hallooed to us that our boarding ladder hadn’t been taken in.  In spite of her warning, Ed forgot to attend to it, and it was broken  into little pieces by the water.
     Rain and fog going home.
Saturday, June 8, 1957, Cohasset to Provincetown
     Came aboard shortly before 2:00 p.m., found canvas fitters fitting canvas and had to dismiss them, as we were on our way to dear old Provincetown.  As clear a day as we have ever seen.  Ed was sure he could see the twin lights off Cape Ann before we had even passed Minot’s.  Wind from southeast when we started, but changed to southwest, which forecasts a rocky night in PT Harbor, as usual.
     TV not very good tonight--reception-wise, that is.  Someday I suppose we’ll regard our first small portable in the same light as we now look at crystal sets.  Drinks, charcoal-broiled steak, a nightcap while we played cards.  I won at Rummy, Ed won at Hearts and Honeymoon Bridge.  Fine with me; I’d rather put up with his gloating than his sulking.
Sunday, June  9, 1957, Provincetown to Cohasset
     Wonderful night’s sleep, not rocky after all, morning flat and lovely.  After breakfast rowed ashore to buy papers and mosey around PT.  Discovered a fascinating new shop, “Mr. Kenneth’s,” crammed with bizarre straw hats, jeweled fly swatters, zany hand-painted greeting cards (originals by Mr. Kenneth), charming masks of feathers and sequins.  Ed escaped after putting out a mere $5.85 that paid for a bonnet for me, an apron, two greeting cards, and a Fisherman’s Crying Towel.
     Read Sunday papers aboard the Happy Days, had a beer, some lobster and crackers, steak sandwiches.  Were considering a nap when a familiar-looking craft hove into view.  ‘Twas the Seabird, with Merrie Alden Pinkham and crewe.  Pinkhams' guests were the Wellmans and the Grimms.  We “nested” and had highballs on Seabird, then at 3:00 p.m. Ed and I made our departure.
Sunday, July 16, 1957, Cohasset to Plymouth
     Ye Newe Mayflowere being located at nearby Plymouth, we gathered thirteen strong aboard the Happy Days and set forth at 10:30 to view this historic replica.  The Bowens with children, Pete and Lee were aboard, Vonnie and Cindy Tufts, Kathie and her pals Priscilla and Judy, Timmy-Lord-help-us, Kathryn Kilpinen, and of course, Ed and I.  We stopped at Scituate Harbor looking for Mr. Hornblower, but no sign of Seabird.
     Onward to Plymouth.  Couldn’t have been a better day for the trip.  Thought we saw Alden for sure coming out of Scituate Harbor, way outside the channel, but it turned out to be some unknown Think-Before-You-Goofer.  Surprisingly little water traffic in vicinity of Mayflower, so we were able to run by several times and get good movies (I hope).
     Had brought a huge block of frozen clams.  The first potful I steamed weren’t much of a hit--turned out they were still half raw.  Subsequent batches, better cooked, went fast, but a certain character, we discovered, was biting off the necks only.
     “What are you doing, Timmy?” I scolded.  “Throwing away all those delicious stomachs?”
     “No, I'm putting them back in the pot,” he said.  Appetites were so hearty that even our lad’s discarded stomachs were snapped up like delicacies.
     Nan provided a platter of crisp raw vegetables, stuffed eggs, and a gigantic submarine sandwich from which she sliced small portions.
     The children had a wonderful time swimming, once they became accustomed to the frigid water.  Ed made several attempts to join them but finally gave up, insisting he could get in all right, but then he would sink like a block of ice and how would we get home?  Those rugged individuals Judy 
Merrick and Joe Bowen took the plunge.  I just took movies.
     Started for home at 3:30, Kathie at helm.  She spurned the help of the automatic pilot, preferring to prove that she was as efficient as any old machine.
     The big question of the day: Why is Kathie so camera-shy?  Joe chased her around for hours, trying to get a picture.  Maybe that answers the question.
Friday, June 21, 1957, Cohasset to Gloucester
     “Do you realize today is the longest day of the year?” said Marion, as we started for Gloucester at 6:30 p.m.  “My God,” replied Ed, “it’s practically winter already.”
     It is depressing to think that Nature, having presented us with the gift of this lovely long day, will henceforth hold back more and more of the sun until, alas, it will be pitch black outside at 5:00 p.m.  I can think of only one consolation: the children will know when it’s time to come home for dinner.
     Picked up a mooring at Smith’s Cove, had Happy Hour with the Marshes, regaled them with the Cohasset Witch-Way Saga.  Marion prepared Hungarian Goulash with rice (“It’s a beef stew, but Hungarian Goulash sounds better”), added French Dressing, thinking it was extra gravy.  The result was so delicious we have decided to call it “French Hungarian Goulash” and send the recipe to the next Pillsbury contest.
Saturday, June 22, 1957, Gloucester to Rockport
     Heard Marshes stirring around 7:30, got up to a beautiful morning--even if it is only the next-longest day of the year.  The aroma of frying bacon had no effect on our slumbering Captain.   We tried hammering on the door, and that did it.  Then Marion demonstrated to me an easy way to peel a soft-boiled egg.
     “You tap the top of it with a spoon to crack it, then you roll it gently between your hands like so . . . . ” The egg disintegrated, but Marion concluded gamely, “and then you lick your fingers like so.”  Since this was my egg she was licking off her fingers, she got no pats on the back from me.
     Ed worked on the generator for an hour or so while Marion and I read our books.  The generator had  refused to shut off last night after we picked up our mooring.  Ed finally had to throw the main battery switch to silence the thing.  It is now fixed, but only on a temporary basis.  (Jim Gracie, we need you.) 
    When we went ashore, we moseyed along a narrow little street, and our attention was caught by a charming arrangement of dozens of rose bushes behind a weathered wood fence.  We leaned on the fence, admiring and exclaiming, whereupon the owner suddenly spoke up from behind an evergreen and invited us in.  He was a real Cape Cod character, brusque, laconic, but obviously enjoying our pleasure in his hobby.  He has lived in Gloucester for 51 years, no less, said his garden must be one of the most-photographed spots in Gloucester.  It overlookd the harbor, so we were able to point out our hobby to the gentleman.  “Ever catch a tuna?” he wanted to know.  “No,” Ed said promptly, at which our host laughed outright for the first time. 
     We caught the next bus and got off in the center of Gloucester, picked up souvenirs for the children in Bill Brown’s department store, shopped for groceries in the First National.
     Returned to Rocky Neck, broke out the beer, started for Rockport.  As we went through the Annisquam Canal, I served some of my famous steamed frozen clams.  Freezing doesn’t seem to hurt them a bit.  Had to stop when the tender of the railroad bridge waved a red flag--minutes later a train roared over the bridge.
     At 3:00 tied up at the Public Dock (“15 minutes only”) and Ed went to the Yacht Club to inquire about a guest mooring.  Like Cohasset’s Yacht Club, no such thing.  We were advised to pick up the Sea Scouts’ mooring, which we did with some difficulty.  It’s a small, crowded harbor and the boat nearest us seemed determined to nest with us, a complete stranger.  We barely managed to keep her at arm’s length.
     Ed had a swim--by degrees.  He stalled so long I finally said, “Get out of the way,” and lowered myself into the water from the ladder.  It was wonderful once you got out--which I did immediately.  After five or six hours of “accustoming myself to the water,” Ed had a real swim.  From then on he kept hounding me to have a real swim, too.  In the end I silenced him by agreeing to take a real swim if he’d agree to take a course at Arthur Murray’s with me.  [He eventually did this, groaning and protesting all the while.  When it ended, he was too smart to let the dance school’s sales people con him into signing up for a lifetime course at their special low rate.  BBM 10-28-00.]
     After charcoal-broiled steak for dinner we went ashore in the dinghy.  (I forgot to include Marion’s trick-of-the-week.  Even before her first cocktail she tried to light a cigarette with her new lighter.  The lighter worked fine, but she’d neglected to put a cigarette between her lips. “Hot-lips Marsh,” we call her.)
     As I was saying, we went ashore and tied up at Sandy Bay Yacht Club’s dock.  There seemed no way of getting out of our confines except by going through the Yacht Club proper, so we did.  In the main room were four dignified elderly gentlemen playing cribbage.  “Hi,” Marion said gaily as we went by.  They replied with a stare and a slight nod, whereupon Wes lectured Marion on the proper way to greet elderly cribbage players.  “If you must say something, say `How do you do.”   “Oh phooey,” said Marion.
     We pushed out of the gate, then had an embarrassing thought--would we be able to get back in again?  Above the gate--which had swung firmly closed--was a sign warning, “For Yacht Club members only.” Wes vowed he wasn’t so old that he couldn’t clamber over the picket fence if necessary.  Well, we’d hurdle that fence when we came to it, but meanwhile we intended to see Rockport.
     Having promised Vonnie I would call her, I stepped into a phone booth and rang the house.  Vonnie had gone to Plymouth to see the Mayflower II with the Tufts and had seen Vice President Nixon real close, she told me. Timmy wanted to know if we’d caught any fish, his stock question whether we are phoning from Fort Lauderdale or Scituate Harbor.
     Our tour ended, we gathered outside the sacred gate of Sandy Bay Yacht Club and timidly tried to open it.  As we had feared, we were locked out.  Ed followed the fence along until he spotted some young members on the other side, sitting on the porch.  “Will you let us in, please?”  “Just give the gate a kick,” said one.  No secret password, no card or permit; just give the door a kick.  This is worth remembering.
Sunday, June 23, 1957, Rockport to Cohasset
     Spent an idle morning poring over the Sunday papers and taking movies of a couple of amateurs in a sailboat.  I kept my fingers crossed when it looked for a while as if they would capsize, but no such luck for the camera or the Log.
     Around 12:30, started for home by way of Cape Ann.  Marion prepared a delicious salad for lunch, using no dressing except a little lemon juice.
     Arrived 3:45.  Winds predicted by Weather Bureau were not as gusty as expected. It’s extremely hot in the harbor—pity the poor landlubbers.
Saturday, June 29, 1957, Cohasset
     Ed worked on engine in harbor this afternoon.  Too windy to take Vonnie and Timmy to Scituate Harbor for night, as planned.
     Went over to Witch-Way to commiserate with Ray.  He was trying to get the boat ready for a charter starting day after tomorrow.  The question was, where was the Man of the Hour, Jim Gracie?  An hour late, that’s all.
Sunday, June 30, 1957, Cohasset
     Vonnie and Debbie Eaton spent the night aboard the boat. Ed, Tim, and I came down to the Yacht Club at 10:15, found the skiff back at the dock, no sign of the girls.  I went back to the house looking for them, thinking we might have missed them when we picked up Sunday papers.  No girls.  Called Lou Eaton.  “Are the girls over there?”
     “No,” he said uneasily.
     “Well, they’re in from the boat,” I hastily reassured him—“That’s good!”—“but now they’re among the missing, and we had planned to take them to Scituate Harbor for some swimming and fishing.”
      Story’s happy ending: I found Vonnie and Debbie. They were up in the barn getting an old birdcage for Vonnie’s teddy bear. 
      Last night they smuggled their dolls to the boat in a wicker basket.
      “Why don’t you just carry them?” I asked.
      “We don’t want anyone to know we still play with dolls.”
      Timmy fished for a while. We anchored off the coast of Scituate; the girls swam.  I fed the children ravioli and hamburg patties.  Later we sailed into Scituate Harbor, found Pinkhams and Reids aboard the Seabird.  Alden swam over and chatted for a while with Ed.  Squall was approaching from northwest, Alden felt we should stay in harbor until it passed over, but the captain decided to high-tail it back to Cohasset.  Arrived 3 p.m. in plenty of time for Tim’s Little League game at 4:00.
Friday, July 12, 1957, Cohasset to Provincetown
     Departure time for weekend with Jack and Connie Barnard--3:30 p.m.  At 3:00 I went down to the dock with suitcase and fresh sheets, planning to get things shipshape before we started.  Lo and behold, there was Jim Gracie, laboring down in the black hole, the rug rolled up, the hatches wide open.  
     “Something wrong?” I asked.
     “No, just trying to get these gears to work a little easier.”
     I crawled over him and began stowing away clothes and stripping bunks.  “When are you planning to leave?” Jim called.  “In half an hour,” I said.  “Oh,” he said.  “Why?” I said.  “I thought you were going tomorrow morning.”
     A horrible suspicion dawned.  I opened the icebox door.  No ice.  “No ice, Jim?”   
     “No ice, no gas, no nothing,” he sighed.
    I knew Ed was on his way, and not caring to be a witness to mayhem, I thought of an important errand and scrammed.
    When I returned, the impossible had been accomplished--it was quarter of four, the boat was gassed and iced, and Jim was still alive.  The Barnards were ready and waiting, Ed looked only slightly apoplectic.
     Con-Con had forgotten a most important item--her stock-in-trade (and I don’t mean her bathing suit)--camera.  There wasn’t time to go back for it, not if she wanted to join us on this little trip, so at 4:00 we got under way, Captain Bligh brooking no further delays.
     Arrived Provincetown 8:00 p.m.  Broke open Jack’s fabulous contribution, imported champagne that had been cooling in a bucket of ice.  It tasted every bit as delicious as domestic.  After a charcoaled steak for dinner, we lowered the dinghy and putted into the Provincetown dock.  Our first port of call was our old hangout, the Ace of Spades.  It was as exclusive as ever.  In order to get in, you had to--or Ed had to—produce identification for what appeared to be a policeman and then sign the register.  Satisfied that Ed was not Public Enemy # One, this official allowed the rest of us to enter, provided we would also sign the register.
     The place was packed with hordes of tourists seated on kegs around circular tables, all stealing speculative glances at one another, their expressions plainly saying, “Do you suppose she’s one?  Or ”Do you suppose he’s one?”  An attractive black-haired lad thumped away on the piano; behind him sat a dark-skinned slant-eyed girl who looked like Eartha Kitt.  “Channel, “the blond lady with glasses who will paint your portrait in ten minutes for $1.50, was on hand in one of her remarkable get-ups.  This time she was wearing something that looked like a garishly striped beach coat over something that looked like a stylish-stout bathing suit. 
     Our next stop was the Atlantic House.  The downstairs bar was impenetrable, so we climbed up to the second floor and were seated at a table.  The jazz piano player was followed by a large, handsome woman who proved to be an excellent entertainer.  She really knew how to put over a song--and woe unto him who didn’t listen.  Her henchmen stood ready to gag any customer who tried to compete in voice volume.
     We left as the bar was closing and headed for our sea-going home.  It was only 1:30 when Ed concocted our nightcaps, which seemed an excellent time to start a rubber of bridge.  `Twas the girls against the boys, and being too modest to brag about the outcome, I will let the record speak for itself.  (By the way, is down four doubled and vulnerable really only 1800 points or did we cheat ourselves?) [We cheated ourselves.  I just looked it up and it’s 2300.  bbm  10-28-00.]
Saturday, July 13, 1957, Provincetown to Barnstable
     Got up around ten, which gave us nearly six hours of sleep.  Jack and Con had a swim.  I fried bacon and cut up last night’s cold boiled potato and browned it in the bacon fat. [Horrors!]
    This was a special treat for Jack who had declared last night there was nothing he would like better for breakfast.  That was last night.  This morning he looked at the fried potatoes and then quickly looked away.  He looked at the ceiling, he looked at the floor, he looked out the window.  Obviously he preferred to look anywhere at anything as long as it wasn’t fried potatoes.
     “Don’t you feel well, Jack?” asked Ed.
     “Oh, I feel all right,” Jack allowed.  “I’m just not sure how long it’s going to last.”
     While the rest of us wolfed down a hearty breakfast, Jack sat mutely absorbed in his inner workings.  He appeared to be measuring the distance to the head, at times, and I earnestly hoped he would make it if the occasion (or anything else) arose.
     The aroma of hot coffee had a beneficial effect, fortunately, and after a few tentative sips, the man actually smiled.  “I do believe, he said cautiously, hardly daring to push his luck—“I do believe I’ve crossed the bar.”
     At 1:00 p.m. we set out for Barnstable, where we had arranged to call the Stapleses and Kingsburys and get together for dinner. [Art Kingsbury was Ed’s roommate at Wesleyan; Mary Staples was Art’s sister.] 
     We were able to get a slip at the new Barnstable Marina, a popular port.  As there were yachts close by on either side of us, I recommended to Ed that we have Happy Hour with the Staples and Kingburys aboard the Happy Days, then after dinner go back to the “Farm,” in Sandwich, for further revelry, thus sparing our neighbors any late hour disturbance.
     Our guests arrived at 6:30.  Connie and I were decked out in our most flamboyant costumes, Con in a sheath, exotic-looking with its hot tropical orange and scarlet color combination.  Burnt orange sandals to match, drop earrings faithfully carrying out the color scheme. I wore my bright red “squaw” dress.  Not to be outdone, Jack and Ed donned their  flamboyant Madras jackets. A more violent collection of colors and patterns have never before been assembled in the saloon of the Happy Days.
     Introductions completed, the eight of us sat around reminiscing and discovering friends and acquaintances in common from old college days.  This is always great fun for everyone but me, whose old college days at Smith barely lasted long enough for me to get acquainted with anyone but the mailman.  He was impressed by Ed’s daily letters.
    Dick was bowled over by Con-Con so fast, I can only call it a strike.  Not that she went out of her way to be devastating—she just sat there looking delectable and Dick sat there looking famished.
     We progressed to the Barnstable Inn.  Alone with Mary and Marietta in the Ladies Room, I agreed that yes, Connie was a fascinating female but assured them that when they got to know her better, they couldn’t help but like her anyway.
     After dinner we were driven to the Farm, saw the remodeled barn where Art and Marietta are spending the summer with their two children, a handsome boy and a cute blond girl who looks like her Aunt Mary.  Then Mary showed us her three little boys, none of whom seemed to mind being roused for midnight introductions.
     Had a drink, looked through Stapleses’ wonderful snapshot album.  Jack spotted Joe Locke in an old wedding picture.  [Years later, Joe died of a heart attack on the 13th tee at the Cohasset Golf Club.]  I guess it was around one when we said goodbye and Dick and Art drove us back to Barnstable.  The evening being so young, Connie and I challenged the boys to another round of bridge.  Con and I built up an astronomical score, doubling and setting them, but technically speaking, they won the rubber.  It was perhaps fourish when we retired?  The neighbors would know better than I.
Sunday, July 14, 1957, Barnstable to Cohasset
     Up at 9:30.  Over the breakfast table, Con-Con vowed that the man on the adjoining boat was giving her a dirty look. I tried to convince her it was the same look all the men give her, but her conscience was bothering her;  she was afraid we might have been noisy last night.  When Ed pointed out that we had played bridge with the windows open, my conscience began to bother me, too.
     “You know, I don’t think we’re the marina type,” Ed commented.  “We’re more the anchor-out-in-the-harbor type.”
     Jack chortled and then, Jack-like, collected himself.  “That,” he said soberly, “is the definition of the week.”
     The boys set out on a walk to buy Sunday papers, tossing over their shoulders the parting remark that they expected to find the breakfast disorder cleared up and the bunks made by the time they returned.  Con and I had fully intended to do these chores, but we weren’t sure we liked being told to do them.  If it hadn’t been that we expected the Stapleses and Kingsburys and progeny to show up before noon, we might have mutinied on the spot.
     Sure enough, all of our friends of last night (except Mary, who was home “lambaste-ing” the turkey), arrived with their five hundred children. The youngsters had a wonderful time swarming over the boat except little Teddy Staples.  At two years, he had a deep-rooted suspicion that the whole expedition was a plot on the part of his father to abandon him forever.  We got some good movies of him howling at the top of his lungs when Dick handed him down the ladder of the dock to his Uncle Arthur.
     Started for home at 12:15.  Absolutely the most gorgeous day of the summer—hot, flat calm, misty but not foggy.  Arrived 5:30.
Sunday, July 21, 1957, Cohasset to Tuna Grounds!
     A great day for Kathie’s annual fishing trip with her friends. Intended departure hour was 8:30, waited until 9:30 for Bob and his friend, the only ones in the group who did not appear on time.  Called house, no word from Bob, persuaded Kathie to leave without him.  Kathie’s guests are Judy, Priscilla, Nancy, and three boys--Rusty, Sy, and Dick.
     Cruised out to the draggers, tried harpooning sharks, but they were too skittish.  One of the draggers hailed us and when we drew alongside, shouted that tuna were plentiful four miles to the southeast.  The Little Flower’s tip proved valuable indeed, for within an hour we had hooked our first tuna of the season. We promptly lost him, hooked and lost two more before we at last got a big fellow on the line and proceeded to battle it out.  It was a wordless argument between Ed and the tuna, but you could almost hear the conversation.
     Ed would raise the tip of the rod, then wind vigorously as he lowered it.  “Oh, no you don’t!” said Mr. Tuna, and zzip, zzip, zzip, the line would rip from the reel.  “Where do you think you’re going?” Ed would set his jaw and fight to get back a few of those stolen feet of line. It was a long struggle—over an hour—but finally Ed was able to gaff the huge fish and heave him into the cockpit.  He must have weighed a good seventy-five pounds.  Wait till Alden hears about this!
     Saw several whales and some sharks.  Kids kept getting starved and toward the end of the afternoon were reduced to snacking on saltines, which were all we had left that was edible.
     Arrived Cohasset 6:30.  Took tuna to Charlie Antoine’s to be weighed--80 pounds.  Had trouble giving it away, but in the end a bystander offered to take it.  It depresses me to learn that dead tuna are not in great demand.  It makes our fight to land him seem so unworthwhile
Friday, July 26, 1957, Cohasset to Onset
     Once again we’re Nantucket-bound with the Thaxters.  Jayne is afraid Ed may have  jinxed the trip since—contrary to his usual pessimistic predictions every year—he  announced that this time he was looking forward to five wonderful days.
     Ed and I went down to the harbor around 2:30.  Ed brought the boat into the dock, the neatest trick of the week, with about a dozen rookies beetling back and forth in front of him, all exercising their fiendish little rights-of-way.  It took me nearly an hour and a half to stow our gear.  Our forward cabin closet is adequate for a weekend, but only a mathematical genius could figure where to stuff the contents of two large suitcases.  I was mathematically proficient enough, however, to count up fourteen pairs of undershorts belonging to Ed.  It hardly seemed he would need that many, even with dysentery.  I re-packed one suitcase with the clothing I was sure we wouldn’t need (Ed’s), and finally succeeded in jamming the last pair of socks into our cupboard.
     I had just finished making up Jayne’s and Blake’s bunks with clean sheets when the pair arrived, breathless and full of apologies for being late.  Ed told them to relax, he was in no hurry because it was going to be a rough trip until the wind died down, which it probably would at sunset.
     It was fortunate that he wasn’t in a hurry.  Jayne opened one of her suitcases and found it full of tiny garments.  “Oh Blake!” she called wearily.  “You left my suitcase with Jody and brought his suitcase for me.”  There was nothing for it but to wait while Blake went home to make the swap.  Jayne has lost quite a bit of weight since she started dieting, but she has a long way to go before she can squeeze into a size three.
     After Blake returned with the proper suitcase, Jayne finished unpacking.  “I feel seasick already,” she said.
     “Yes.”’ Blake said gravely, “It’s fearfully rough here in the harbor, isn’t it.”
     On the strength of that we all took a Dramamine.  We left Cohasset at 4:20, and it was rough going until 7:00, when the wind went down.
     When it grew dark, Blake descended from the flying bridge to the deckhouse , and leaning on the counter next to the steering wheel, began searching diligently for something.
     “What are you looking for?” Jayne asked.  
     “The flashlight, where is the flashlight?”
      “Under your hand,” said Jayne.
      Blake stared blankly at the flashlight, then picked it up.  “Yuh mean this thing here?” he inquired, looking like one of his Neanderthal ancestors, slack jaw and all.
      Shortly afterward, Blake hollered for the net! The net!  He had been standing on the flying bridge with Ed when a gust of wind snatched at the chart in his hand.  “Wow!” he said, “the wind almost got the chart.”  Whoosh, another gust of wind and Blake stood there empty-handed.
    Ed maneuvered the boat around and I captured the chart in the net.
     Oh well, Blake isn’t very experienced, after all, and when it comes to crew hands, Ed is used to making do. (For Blake’s benefit, if he ever reads the Log.)
     Arrived Onset 9:30, had a couple of drinks and a thick charcoal-broiled you-know-what.
Saturday, July 27, 1957, Onset to Nantucket
     Ed and Blake got up before five and we were on our way to Nantucket.  It wasn’t as rough a trip as last year, when Jayne and I had to cling to our bunks to keep from being heaved out.  But it wasn’t so smooth that a body could sleep like a baby, either.
     Arrived Nantucket 9:30, had breakfast, then Jayne and I went ashore on the launch to sign in at the desk and see about tennis courts.  A ten-day guest membership was $10 plus tax.  The lady behind the desk was far from cordial as she swept in our money, officiously advising us that she couldn’t make any promises about courts, there were tournaments going on, the regular club members had to be taken care of first, etc.  etc.  She finally allowed as how we could have a court at noon.
     Jayne and I found a singles court unoccupied and rallied until we were kicked off at 11:00.  We settled down to read while we waited for the men, but soon found ourselves so fascinated by a girl playing mixed doubles that we put down our books and watched her.  She kept up a constant stream of chatter, commenting on everyone’s every shot, coaching the other three continuously, and displaying the most peculiar style of tennis Jayne and I had ever seen.  Her serve was extraordinary, involving twisting her body into a pretzel shape and then lunging toward wherever she happened to throw the ball.  I took movies.
     Our husbands came ashore a little after twelve and we played two sets of mixed doubles.  Blake and I were tired.  Besides, Ed had never played such fantastically good tennis in his life.  He finally double-faulted and Blake said, “Well, I’m glad to see you’re getting your game back.”
     We were so hungry we could hardly shovel hamburgers in fast enough and then we were so full, we could hardly move.
     Ambled down to Nantucket Village where we bought papers and sundries.  Back to the Happy Days for a snooze.  Showered and dressed at 6:00, had cocktails until 8:00, when launch picked us up. Went to Ropewalk for dinner, looking forward to the Roast Beef Special Jayne discovered last summer.  All out of R. B. Special, so we ordered three pork chop dinners, one rare steak for me.  It was so rare it was still cold in the middle, just the way Ed likes it.  I gave him the middle.  Jayne had three salads along with her dinner because salads aren’t fattening.
    We stopped at the Opera House for cordials.  Jayne and I were agog over two girls at the next table with a couple of older guys.  One of the girls looked like Ava Gardner and both of them looked expensive but not priceless.  My broad-minded husband figured they were about thirty years old, fifty dollars a night, and wasted on those older men.  Blake was frustrated because he faced away from the intriguing subjects the rest of us were discussing and dissecting.  At last he resorted to crooking his arm behind his head, scratching his ear, and peering casually under his armpit at Ava and her friends.  By the time he finished taking a number of quick peeks, his ear was scratched raw.
     Knowing the Saturday night deadline on launch service was midnight, we hurried back to the Yacht Club at 11:30.  A dance was in progress, so we joined the lively throng.  Ed and I were jitterbugging beautifully when an attractive, dignified-looking gentleman tapped Ed on the shoulder.  Thinking he was cutting in, I simpered at him in a welcoming manner, but all he said was, “Sorry, ties are required.” Neither Jayne nor I was wearing a tie, nor were our husbands, so we slunk off the dance floor and took the launch back to the boat.
     We had nightcaps and arguments and a jolly good time until 1:30. 
Sunday, July 28, 1957, Nantucket to tennis courts and beach
     Had to wait an hour for court at noon.  Bought Sunday papers, watched four boys playing a unique variety of tennis they must have invented.  On every shot, including the serve, the ball was bounced over the net, that is, bounced on your side of the court . . .well, I guess I’d better draw a picture because words fail me.  Get it?  The receiver then must bounce the ball on his own side in such a way that it will bound back over the net, he hopes.
     Played for an hour and a half.  It took Blake and me two or three sets to warm up and teach Ed and Jayne a lesson.  Had lunch at snack bar.  Played a little more tennis.  Left our tennis gear under a table near the terrace and went to the bus stop to wait for the beach bus.  Sat on curbstone.  All agreed someone ought to take movies of us sitting down on curbstone, but none of us volunteered because we all wanted to be in the picture. 
     Boarded the bus to beach.  Disappointed to find Ed’s shell mosaic of last summer had vanished. .  Jayne said she was amazed they hadn’t put a fence around it and memorialized it with a bronze plaque.  Loafed in the sun, had a swim in that delicious warm water.
     Back to Yacht Club at 5:30, found someone had stolen our two cans of tennis balls, one of them brand new.  Had dinner at Boat House, saw Eddie O’Hearn, Charlie Watson’s piano-playing friend.  Blake was funny, funny, funny.  Never mind the camera, we should have a tape recorder.  Caught 10 p.m. launch back to boat.  Blake was funnier and funnier and funnier.  Ed told me I couldn’t have any more to drink.  That was the funniest.  The radio played our favorite songs of long ago for hours.
Monday, July 29, 1957, Nantucket to beach and tennis courts
     In spite of good resolutions, slept late again today.  Had planned to go to the beach first, play tennis later, in order to enjoy the sun at its warmest.  First, however, it was necessary to replenish our ice and water supply. Instead of returning to our mooring location, Ed took it into his head to go for a little spin in the boat.  When I realized what he was up to, I minced no words in expressing my opinion of such time-consuming, tennis-sabotaging nonsense.  “I expect this was the shortest spin we’ve ever been on,” Ed commented as he dutifully swung the boat around.  “Now we know who’s boss in this family,” he added, hurting my tender feelings in front of the Thaxters.  We all know who’s boss in their family, I could have retorted, but I refrained.
     It was after 11:30 when we went ashore.  Ed wanted to buy bathing trunks, so we walked into a fancy shop where he found a nice pair for $11.95.  He left them where he found them and walked back to the village dry-goods store, promising to meet us on the bus (which he would be catching at a different stop). 
     Figuring we had time and money to burn, Jayne and I explored the fancy shop while Blake paced up and down outside, alternately reading “The Black-eyed Blonde” and threatening us with bodily harm if we missed the bus.  I bought a bathing cap covered with black petals, which made me look like Gina Lollobrigida from the ears back.  Jayne yearned after a $115 dress and some $19 sandals but resisted temptation.  We joined the restless tiger outside and walked to the bus stop. Met the bus on its way back from the beach and were told by the driver that he was going to lunch and wouldn’t be back until 12:30.
     Now the question was, where was old Ed?  Jayne and I suggested that Blake walk back to the village bus stop to see if he might be waiting there.  Meanwhile, we said, we might as well browse around the fancy shop a little longer.  Blake groaned and lowered his bushy, sun-bleached eyebrows.  Unlike normal people who raise their eyebrows to express displeasure or disapproval, Blake always lowers his.  Jayne and I asked the prices of a few more fabulous articles, receiving the bad news in a blasé manner for a couple of hausfraus accustomed to shopping at Sidney Gates in North Scituate. 
     Now the question was, where were old Ed and old Blake?  We trudged over to the village bus stop, found old Blake with his nose stuck in the Black-eyed Blonde, figuratively speaking, but old Ed was still among the missing.  We sat on the curbstone and waited for the bus driver to finish his lunch.  Twelve-thirty arrived, but our driver didn’t.  We decided he was a greedy boor.  At 12:40, Blake decided to give him a punch in the nose if he didn’t show up pronto.  At one o’clock the bus drew up and we all piled meekly in.
     Ed was waiting for us at the Jettys Bath House, smugly rocking on the porch, his feet propped up on the railing.  He had caught the bus before the driver went to lunch, so obviously Jayne and I were to blame for this fiasco, having wasted so much time in the fancy shop.  This was obvious to Ed and Blake, that is.  To me, it was obvious—after giving the matter a great deal of thought—that Ed and his “little spin” were to blame.  I had difficulty getting him to see eye to eye with me on this, but he complimented me for trying.  “Drop dead,” is what he said, actually, but I knew he meant it as a tribute.    
     More loafing on the beach after lunch on the terrace.  Then we caught the 5:00 bus back to the village.  Picked up steak and groceries at First National, ran up a bill we didn’t have cash enough for, learned the manager would accept a check.  Had one set of tennis and got kicked off at six because of the water shortage.  (It follows, really it does.)
     During cocktail hour our captain contributed this reassuring tidbit of information: he had plenty of fire preservers and life extinguishers.  After dinner we played bridge.  Blake and Ed won three times over, but Blake kept forgetting to put down the score and Jayne and I didn’t want to embarrass him by pointing it out.
Tuesday, July 30, 1957, Nantucket
     Every morning I say to Ed from our forward cabin, “What time is it?”  This morning it was 9:30. I’ve been wondering what time we’d all get up if I failed to pop this vital question.  Presumably it is my stirring around as I get dressed that galvanizes the rest of them into opening their eyes.  I’ll bet without me they’d sleep right through to Happy Hour.
     Took launch ashore at 11:30, tried to arrange for court, were told by Miss Fussbudget there wasn’t one available until 1:00.  The fellows decided to go take a look at the Coastguard boat, and Jayne and I went shopping.  We returned to the Yacht Club at 12:40, found Ed and Blake playing tennis—they’d been playing for half an hour!  The lady at the desk certainly gets things fouled up, and we’re convinced she does it on purpose.
     Played three or four sets of tennis, seemed too cool (windy, overcast) to go to the beach.  Somehow frittered away the afternoon doing not much of anything.  Saw a girl come in from sailing, supported as she walked, by a man—her arm had been injured, perhaps broken, we heard. 
     Called home.  Ted has been throwing stones at Vonnie.  Ed called his dad.  Grandpa didn’t sound pleased at our announcement that we might stay over until Sunday instead of going home Thursday night.  Ed was consequently downcast because he says there’s no real necessity for him to go back.
     Returned to the Happy Days at 4:30.  Had early cocktails, early dinner, early bridge game.
Fellows had won their second rubber by ten o’clock.  Jayne and I were forced to conclude they were poor-sport winners.  We pointed this out for an hour or two, but they never came around to our point of view.  (The first half hour they didn’t hear us because they were laughing like hyenas.)
     Retired at 11:00 after agreeing that tomorrow we’d get up at eight.  This was the one thing we’d been able to agree on in some time.
Wednesday, July 31, 1957, Nantucket
     I roused everyone at eight, as agreed.  It took a lot of door slamming and pot rattling but I finally did rouse them.  Much thanks I got for my efforts. Jayne and Ed were so morose they would hardly speak, and when they spoke I wished they hadn’t.  Eddie grumbled that when I brushed my teeth I sounded like a power lawn mower.  This, after all I’d put up with night after night, cooped in with him and his dental floss.
     We were playing tennis by 9:30, lunching at 11:30.  We discussed the possibility of staying through Sunday or meeting Ray at some port on our way home Saturday.  (We have been calling Ray day and night for the last three days, but there’s never any answer.)
     Ed got on the phone to see how things were in Boston and Detroit, Blake, Jayne and I took the noon bus to the beach. The driver was going to lunch, so Ed walked after completing his phone calls.
     Ed and Blake’s final decision on staying in Nantucket seems to be in the negative.  Too many problems at home.  Plan to leave early tomorrow, weather permitting.
     Jayne did her disappearing act after dinner, so Ed and I took the launch out to the Happy Days, leaving the skiff for Blake.  Since she was only a little bit mad, she didn’t stay lost for more than half an hour.
     Took movies of Blake getting nowhere as he tried to row Jayne back to the Happy Days.  What with one oar slipping out and the tide against him, it looked as if he’d never make it.  A nautical Sisyphus, you could say.
Thursday, August 1, 1957, Nantucket to Falmouth
     Fogged in early this morning, clearing by nine.  “Off again, on again” Malley was apparently serious about heading for home.  I expressed disappointment, my point being that this might be the best opportunity we’d have to carry out our long-anticipated rendezvous with the Witch-Way.  The Thaxters were game, provided they could be in Cohasset by noon Sunday, as the deadline for their various club champion-ship matches is Monday.  Called Ray and learned his schedule.  Falmouth Friday, Hadley’s Harbor Saturday.  Conferred and conferred and conferred.  Well, maybe, maybe we would meet Ray in Falmouth. 
     First Ed had to call Grandpa and test his reaction.  Perhaps, he confided to Blake, he would exaggerate the weather conditions a little.  Grandpa failed to pass the test.  His first reactions was Grrrr.  His second was “Don’t give me that &*^#)+* about fog!”  “Well,” Ed said feebly, “I’ll see you on Monday.    
     Next, Jayne had to pull together a lot of loose ends at home.  Dogs, cats, children, tennis matches—she returned from the telephone booth looking as if she’d been accidentally locked in a steam room for five days.  “There!” she gasped, collapsing into a chair.  A beer for breakfast revived her. As a matter of fact, it was too late for breakfast anyway, we would settle for lunch as soon as we went to the beach.
     Missed bus by a hair, took giant steps to next stop and caught it.  Spent afternoon loafing and sunning.  Ed constructed a new mosaic.  Blake was desolate that he hadn’t brought his camera.  Played tennis 5-6 o’clock.  I phoned house, talked to Kathie, Vonnie, Mom, Big Vaughan.  All is well except Ted is being fresh.  

No comments:

Post a Comment