Wednesday, July 26, 2017


July 1954
Osterville, Massachusetts
     I've written about Ed's tendency to fall overboard, but there was one occasion when he didn't fall.
     We had cruised down to Oster- ville with the Thaxters, to visit a bachelor friend, Keith, in a cottage on the harbor.  There had been a party ashore, and as the scene opens, Jayne and I have returned to the Matthews.  We are waiting for our husbands to rejoin us.  It is already 2:00 A.M.
     "I wonder what's keeping them," Jayne said.
     At last we heard the sound of an outboard approaching the boat. Our smiles of welcome faded when we saw it was only Keith, towing our dinghy behind him. Without saying a word he tied the dinghy to the Happy Days and prepared to take off.
     “Hey, wait a minute,” I said. “Where are our husbands?”
     “Oh, they’ll be along. I just didn’t want them coming out in this little dinghy—too dangerous.”
     “You tell them it’ll be a lot more dangerous if they don’t get out here right away!” Jayne called after Keith's departing back.
I dug out the searchlight and beamed it at Keith's living-room window. After a moment, the porch lights blinked coyly back a few times, but there was no other sign of action. All the action was taking place inside the house where Jayne and I knew a hilarious party was going on without us.
     At 2:30 I had an inspiration. “We don’t have to sit here like dummies. Why don’t we go in and fetch them?”
     “Do you know how to work the outboard?”
     “Well, no—but I can row. Come on, let's go.”
     “No, thank you," Jayne said.  "I’ll stand here and guide you in with the searchlight.”
     I cast off and after going around in circles a few times (guided by Jayne with the searchlight), I began to get the hang of it. It was really chunky out, and something was the matter with one oarlock. The oar kept slipping out, and by the time I’d get it righted, Jayne would shout that I was heading out to sea.
     As I neared the dock, I was not cheered by the sound of raucous laughter--mostly my husband's--floating out over the water.  I pictured that vivacious Stella from New York sitting on his lap and running her fingers through his hair.  She was quite attractive; in fact, the more I brooded about it, the more she looked like Doris Day.
     Pulling up to the dock, I reached across the dinghy to grab the painter, one foot on the dock's ladder and the other in the stern. With the craft bobbing around like a bucking bronco; I couldn’t quite get my fingers on it. I reached a little further, and the dinghy capsized. I managed to keep my hair dry and sloshed up the ladder, wringing wet from the neck down. Someone must have tipped off the revelers that the enemy was storming the ramparts.
     "Coming, dear!  We were just starting!  We'll be right there," Ed sang out.  I stood there, dripping on the Welcome Mat.    
     Keith appeared in the doorway. “Hey, what happened to you?”
     “I’ve been swimming,” I said icily. “Will you take us back to the Happy Days, please?”
     As we followed Keith down to the dock, I gave Ed a piece of my mind, not caring whether our bachelor friend heard me or not. He turned around and said, “Boy, Ed, I can sure tell you’re married!”
     Ed snickered.
     "It's no laughing matter," I fumed.  "The dinghy capsized. I might have drowned!"
     This seemed to sober him.  He stopped short.  "You capsized the dinghy?  Oh, my outboard motor!  It'll be ruined!"
     That's when I pushed him in.
     Keith ferried us out to the boat, shaking his head and murmuring, boy, was he glad he was single. Blake bounded aboard shouting joyfully, “Here we are, Baby, we’re back, hey Baby, here we are!”
     Ed snapped at me that he was cold and wet, thank you very much. He shoved me out of the way and hurried down to change into dry clothes. Shivering in my clammy dress, I wondered where Jayne was. I found her in the upper bunk of the main stateroom, under the bedspread, trying to look like a lumpy mattress.
     “Guess what happened to me—“ I began.
     “Shh,” said Jayne. “I’m hiding.”
     “But look at me, I’m all wet!”
     “Shh! Don’t let on you found me, will you?”
     “The boat capsized. I fell in!”
     “You did?” she said without interest. “Don’t tell Blake. I want him to think I drowned or something.”
     “Oh all right,” I said sulkily. I sloshed around calling, “Jayne, where are you, Jayne? Yoo-hoo, Jayne.”
     “Blake, I can’t find Jayne,” I said. “She’s nowhere on the boat!”
     “Oh, for God’s sake,” he said, rolling his eyes. “Of course she’s on the boat.”
     He marched down to the cabin where he spotted her immediately but pretended he hadn’t. He marched right up again and muttered, “She’s down in the upper bunk.”
     The search being abandoned, the lumpy mattress arose, declaring tragically that nobody cared whether she drowned or not, nobody even looked for her.
     Meanwhile I was telling Ed that all he cared about was his old outboard motor, I might still be trapped under the dinghy, but what did he care as long as his precious outboard motor was rescued.
     “Why should I worry about you?” he asked. “You’re here.”
     “I’m here! That’s the story of my life.” I said. My married life, that is. He sure didn’t take me for granted when we were courting, I reminded him. He said I was comparing apples and oranges, and I said, How very original of you.
     Jayne told Blake he could jolly well sleep by himself with no sheets, no blankets, no pillows, no Jayne.
     It was a long cold night aboard the Happy Days.
July 22, 1954, Osterville to Osterville
     After Jayne and I captured our husbands last night, the Siege at O’Keefes went on until 5:00 a.m., the last defenders being mainly men. There were so many husbands in the doghouse, one could have started a profitable kennel.
     In order to have someone to talk to, Jayne made up with Ed, and I made up with Blake. We had breakfast aboard Seths’ boat, compared notes on last night, and came up with the unanimous opinion that it was all Keith’s fault.
     “I knew it would get around to that sooner or later,” Keith said.
     Bob O’Keefe took us water-skiing. I was the only one successful at it, which made me feel so good I forgot I was mad and spoke to Ed. He was still mad about his precious outboard motor and even madder that I could water-ski better than he could.
     We had cocktails aboard the Jac-Lyn. Then Juan brought along some hamburg and rolls and we transferred to the Happy Days. Keith was very helpful and kind, quiet and sober all evening--so unlike himself we were worried about him. A few hours sleep probably would have helped.
     We learned during the course of the evening that Blake wears only pajama tops and Ed wears only the bottoms. Jayne has trunks overflowing with fifteen years accumulation of bottoms, and I have an equal hoard of tops. Obviously a swap is in order.
     “Can’t you just see them on our next trip?” said Jayne “The two of them parading through here in one pair of pajamas?”
     “I’m sure I won’t be able to take my eyes off Blake,” I murmured.
     We were feeling relaxed and amiable until Keith brought up the boys’ treachery of the night before. His sympathies were not with Jayne and me. He went on and on about his cousin Juan Seth and what a good sport she was, she never got upset no matter how much Bob went gallivanting or how late he stayed up with the boys.
     Jayne and I got good and tired of hearing about Juan.
     Keith departed, still muttering he was glad he was single. Jayne and I can hardly wait until he gets the fate he deserves. . . a wife.
July 23, 1954, Osterville to Cohasset
     Keith showed up this morning with a couple of apples “for the two schoolmarms.” I said for Ed’s benefit that I wished he’d brought a couple of oranges, too, so I could compare them. We put off our departure until 10:15, when we knew Bob O’Keefe would be piloting a flight to Boston. He came in low over the harbor to salute us. Ed said it was the first time he had ever been buzzed by a commercial airliner. .
     The weather was chunky. We lurched and shuddered our way through the canal and had to hang on all the way home. Finally reached home port at 7:30.


  1. SWHEELOCK79@AOL.COMMarch 11, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    Barbara you are an amazing lady and writer. I love reading all your blogs.

  2. Thank you, Sandra! I'm so glad you contacted me a few days ago when I was in the throes of creating this blog. You caught me up on all you'd gone through, right up to death's door, and I'm thankful you are slanned it in his face.
    Now I'm catching you up on a half-century of memories and having a ball in the process--not least, the pleasure of your friendship.

  3. That should be "slammed it in his face." It has taken me 7 months to notice this error.
    bbm 9-25-11