October 21, 1954
Dear Mr. McClure:I am writing to ask a favor. My husband Ed has been subscribing to Yachting magazine for many years and is an admirer of your cartoons. He even faithfully follows “Little Annie Rooney.”
When I was recently trying to think of a Christmas gift for the man who has everything nautical, it occurred to me that you might consider drawing a personalized sketch for him. Certainly nothing would please him more. I realize the enclosed check isn't much for a man of your reputation, but it's all my bank account can spare.
If you accept, the following may help you find an appropriate theme:
|THE CAPTAIN IS A BIT OF A SLOB AT HOME|
A few days later, however, Ed breezed into the house with a box full of linoleum samples and said cheerfully, "Pick a color!"
"Is this a game?" I asked
"No," he said, looking surprised. "We need new linoleum. You know better than I about things like colors."
Hastily, before he could change his mind, I chose a practical bathroom design.
Ed stared. "That one? On a boat?"
There followed a brisk exchange of opinions. Don't misunderstand me, Mr. McClure; my husband and I have no differences that couldn't easily be settled by the Supreme Court. This time we compromised: new linoleum was installed throughout the Happy Days; she was freshly painted inside and out; new curtains and slipcovers were ordered for her. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the bathroom is resplendent in black marbleized linoleum.
In spite of my complaints, however, there isn't a boat in the world I'd rather have. I'd even settle for the same captain.
Old Saybrook, Conn.
October 28, 1954
From DarrellYes, lady, I'll draw up a sketch for you and tear up your check. Your letter is sufficient payment. I'm forwarding it to the brains at Yachting to see if it can be used as material in some fashion. Of course, we would never do anything about it without your consent.
Cohasset, Mass.November 12, 1954
I am, of course, delighted that you are willing to sketch a Darrell McClure cartoon for Ed. And gratis, yet! I have been remembering other adventures that might be grist for your mill. One evening last summer, Ed and I dropped the hook in Provincetown Harbor and, breaking out our new outboard motor, putted ashore to have dinner. We visited all the bars and explored all the shops, and I only regretted we couldn't dine in all the restaurants. Toward midnight we made our way back to the beach where the dinghy was pulled up. The sand bit my legs and angry waves slapped at the shore. We had failed to notice a brisk wind developing.
Removing our shoes, Ed and I dragged the dinghy into the water, hopped in and started the outboard. We had gone a few feet when a wave drenched us—and the outboard motor. Wading back to shore, we tipped the water out of the dinghy and set off again, this time with a pair of oars.
"Now don't you wish we'd built that terrace instead?" I said, congratulating myself that I hadn't lost my sense of humor. I could tell that Ed had lost his by the look he gave me.
The shadowy outline of the Happy Days, pitching and tossing, loomed ahead. Ed brought us close enough to the stern for me to grab the ladder. Then the dinghy heaved and I lost my grip. At the same time Ed lost one of the oars. Half swamped, the dinghy was rapidly being swept from the boat when Ed grabbed the dinghy 's painter and plunged overboard.
I had married Ed, despite qualms, when I was an eighteen-year-old, slightly pregnant Smith College freshman, wishing I didn’t have to. Now, as he fought through the waves to the Matthews with me in tow, I realized once again, with awe, that I had unwittingly married the right man.
"Go below and change into some dry clothes," Ed ordered in his Captain Bligh voice when we were safely on board. I meekly went below. "Come up here and hold the flashlight while I bail out the dinghy," he called a minute later.
I started to say, "Wait till I get some clothes on," then thought better of it. This was no time for niceties. Ed bailed out the dinghy while I stood by with the flashlight, wearing only a look of admiration.
The next day we were almost back to Cohasset when our engine conked out off Scituate. Ed worked over it until the sun went down and it grew cold. He always considers it a personal affront when anything goes wrong with his boat, and rescue by the Coast Guard is a fate worse than drowning—but this was a crisis. Reluctantly, Ed sent up flares.
While the Coast Guard was towing us in, Ed gave me my orders. "The minute we get to the dock, you run into town and find a taxi. I'll try to brush these fellows off as quickly as possible. They'll want to make a big thing of it and have pictures in the paper‑‑"
"Oh boy, pictures!" I said, whipping out my mirror and comb.
"—but there won't be any publicity if I can help it," Ed concluded firmly.
When we reached the dock I scrambled up the ladder, bundled to the ears in Ed's big windbreaker, and went in search of a taxi. The Coast Guard, noting my disguise and Ed's evasiveness when they questioned him, put two and two together.
"Oh, we understand perfectly, sir," one said with a leer. "Yes, sir, we'll see that there's no publicity." They clapped him on the back, winked and would no doubt have pinned a medal on his chest if they’d had one handy. For the next two weeks Ed swaggered.
With warm regards from Ed, the four kids, and The Other Woman, as I now call myself. . . .
November 26, 1954
I don't know if you've ever done any professional writing, but believe me you should. With only one husband, two boats, four children and undoubtedly dogs and/or cats to raise, you certainly have the time.
The sketch I have drawn would make a good job for Yachting, assuming I have your permission. S'posin' we let Yachting run it. Captain Edward Malley, Jr. would see it in print for the first time. Then whammo, you could present the original drawing to him. Would you like that?
December 10, 1954
To DarrellWhat a dear man you are to dream up the whammo idea for Ed. I'm trying to convince him it's only the Christmas season that is making me twinkle all over; but he's beginning to wonder if I have another man in my life. Aha! I do.
Are you ready for another Captain Malley yarn?
Last summer we took a man from Detroit on a fishing trip. But this wasn't just any stray man. Hubert Kent was a purchasing agent for the Ford Motor Company, whom Ed had met on a business trip a few weeks earlier. Mr. Kent had mentioned that he would be vacationing on the Cape in August.
"Look me up," Ed said, "and I'll take you out fishing."
Rather to his surprise, the man took him at his word. Ed came home beaming one night and told me we were taking Mr. Kent on a shark‑fishing trip.
"Is this likely to get you a Ford contract?" I asked.
"Shh," hissed Ed, turning pale and looking over his shoulder. "Don't ever say things like that! If this guy thought I was taking him fishing just because he's a Ford purchasing agent, it would queer things for sure!"
Hubert Kent thoroughly enjoyed his day aboard the Happy Days, A whale sounded not far from the boat and had its picture taken for the folks back home in Detroit. We spotted several sharks; one of them hooked himself long enough to convince Mr. Kent that shark fishing was the greatest sport in the world.
"Mummy, look what I found on the beach!" our daughter Vonnie called, thrusting something black and wet in my face, when we returned home with our guest. It looked and smelled like a dead dog.
"How can I dry him out, do you think he'll dry out if I put him in the sun? Doesn't he look real?"
Our son Timmy was simultaneously jabbering that his new kite was caught in a big tree. Should he call the fire department to get it down?
"Mm-hmm," I said, meaning yes, the dead dog did look real; but Timmy went off to call the fire department. I told my older daughter Kathie to take our guest upstairs and show him where to change while I set out the caviar and pate de fois gras. Mr. Kent had barely left the room when Timmy piped up: "Is Daddy going to get the contract?"
"Shh! Timmy, will you shut up for God's sake!" I whispered, aghast.
"Well, all I want to know is, did he—"
I clapped my hand over his mouth. "Where did he ever get an idea like that?" I asked Esther, our housekeeper.
"Urmph, rrurmph," said Timmy, squirming.
"I don't know, Mrs. Malley," Esther said. "He's been talking like that all day. You know how he is when he gets an idea in his head. I thought maybe he heard you and Mr. Malley talking."
Timmy was still wriggling.
"Timmy, I'm going to let you go, but if you dare say one more word like that—well, I don't know what your father will do to you."
"What's Timmy done now?" asked Ed, appearing on cue.
I told him. Ed glanced wildly upstairs, then started for Timmy. "I'll strangle him, I swear I'll strangle him!"
"Why can't I just ask‑‑" Timmy began calmly, not at all intimidated.
"Timmy," I pleaded, while his father collapsed in a chair, "not now. Tomorrow. Do you understand? Tomorrow you can ask all the questions you want."
"Who the devil told him, anyway?" Ed asked.
"Nobody told me. I saw the license plate and I knew you went to Detroit to get some business and I read in a funny‑book about a guy taking another guy on his boat because he was trying to get a contract."
"I give up," Ed said weakly. "I'm never going to work again. I'll just retire and let this genius support us."
February 13, 1955
Thank you for writing so enthusiastically to Yachting's editor about my yarns. I’ve written Mr. Remington suggesting as an article possibility the time our first boat sank. I didn't tell him my contribution in that hour of peril was to keep running to the head. When the water in the cabin was waist deep, the trip to the head was pointless‑‑and, according to Ed, downright dangerous. He ordered me to go above and stay above.
What finally happened to this courageous couple? Did they go down with their vessel, never to be heard from again? Or was there a dramatic, last‑minute rescue? Learn the spine‑tingling details in the next issue of Yachting!
Perhaps I should write instead about the time we were trying to tie up to a pier in Provincetown. I was at the topside controls and Ed was forward with a line that he intended to toss over one of the piles rising above our heads.
"You're going too fast," he called. "Put her in neutral."
I obeyed, but our momentum was carrying us past the piling.
"Reverse, reverse!" he shouted.
|ED MADE A WILD GRAB FOR THE LINE. . . .|
Another time Ed was climbing down from our cruiser into another when his foot slipped and he fell between the two boats. To this day he wonders what made him so clumsy. It was spilled mayonnaise. Rather than upset him, I let him keep on wondering.
Twice Ed has fallen overboard while trying to harpoon a shark. He insists, from his armchair in front of the TV set, that the sharks we harpoon are just big old harmless sand sharks—but I never saw a pair of arms and legs move as fast as Ed's did when he saw a harmless old shark fin coming toward him. It was like one of those animated cartoon where someone dives into the water, the projector is reversed, and whoosh—he's back on the diving‑board!
Then there was the breezy Saturday I went for a sail with our friends the Remicks on their sloop, the Marionette. Ed was at his office all morning, but early that afternoon he followed us out in the Matthews. Approaching a sailboat safely with a motor cruiser is not a simple maneuver. Ed made several vain attempts to throw Ray a line.
This was a challenge, so Ed devised a new strategy. He cut the motor and climbed into the dinghy, holding the line attached to the Happy Days The plan was for Ray to keep making passes at the skiff until Ed succeeded in throwing him the line.
The first few passes failed. "Let's try once more, Ed!" Ray shouted. A captain for Northeast Airlines, he wasn’t the type to give up easily.
This time Ray caught the line. As it curved out in a great arc between the Happy Days and the Marionette, I cheered. Ray quickly secured his end of the line and as it grew taut, guess who was caught in the middle?
|THE CAPTAIN FLIPPED THROUGH THE AIR.|
We now had the Matthews in tow, as planned, but her skipper was rapidly receding in the distance. I was wringing my hands and babbling that I wanted my husband back.
"Calm down!" barked Ray, another one of those guys who think they’re Captain Bligh just because they own a boat..
We came about and plowed toward Ed, who was sitting soddenly in the skiff. Ray released the Happy Days, and Ed climbed aboard, shouting that he had had it, he was going ashore.
"Don't let him go without me!" I wailed.
"Oh my Lord!" groaned Ray.
It was decided that Ed would bring our cruiser alongside the Marionette. If he could get near enough without damaging the boats, I was to transfer from one to the other—about as easy as transferring from one galloping horse to another, but the only one worried about possible damage to me was I.
Ed eased the Happy Days toward the Marionette until the two boats were plunging along neck and neck, with Ray’s wife, Dottie, at the tiller of the Marionette.. Ray was standing by me at the rail to help me across and I was saying uneasily, "Hey, can't you slow this thing down?"
Busy concentrating on the necessary split‑second leap, Ray ignored my question, yelled "Okay, now!"—and gave me a push.
I grabbed for the Happy Days with one hand and Ray with the other. Result: Ray and I both wound up on the Matthews This failed to improve Ray’s disposition.
Ed and Dottie soon had the two boats plowing along side by side again, and Ray transferred back. He didn't wave.
Darrell, the whole family has enjoyed The Best of Darrell McClure tremendously. Would you be so kind as to autograph the enclosed copy for me?
February 24, 1955
Your letter has floored me completely!!! I howled and pounded the floor. I forwarded both your letters to Ham de Fontaine at Yachting.
March 1, 1955
Would Yachting be interested in my Protestant‑ethic upbringing versus Ed's prodigality? My father was a "waste not, want not" man who successfully imprinted his views on his children. I grew up knowing the value of a dime as well as a dollar; my bankbook was my favorite reading.
But Dad had no way of foreseeing I would marry a man who thinks a bank is something you find by the edge of a river.
Take our Matthews. When we acquired her in the fall of 1953, she was probably the most completely equipped Sport Fisherman on the eastern seaboard. Since then, Ed has added so much paraphernalia
I often wonder what keeps her afloat.
Semper paratus, the Happy Days now has a ship‑to‑shore telephone, gasoline sniffer, recording fathometer, auxiliary gasoline generator, extra 134‑gallon monel fuel tank, automatic pilot, electric winch, automatic bilge pump, and two new 185‑horsepower Gray engines.
Also in the "Be Prepared" category is our collection of charts. Captain Ed is chart‑happy. Besides owning a complete set for our local waters around Massachusetts Bay and the Cape, he can often be found poring over charts of Florida and the Bahamas. Who knows, we might take a cruise down the Inland Waterway some day. We might want to explore Florida's swamps and canals, or cross from one coast to another via Lake Okeechoobee. We'd be pretty foolhardy to try that without charts.
An elaborate radio direction‑finder was installed at what I divined was considerable expense. (No one ever gives me a financial report; I just divine these things.) Then along came loran, and what self‑respecting boat owner could be satisfied with a mere radio direction finder when a more expensive substitute was available? Ed was only slightly taken aback when he found that the loran requires a 32‑volt system. Our 12‑volt system had never been adequate anyway, he decided. While he was at it, he might as well add a 110‑volt inverter.
"From now on," he promised, "you'll even be able to run a small vacuum."
"O joy," I said.
Besides wanting to stay afloat, Ed likes to catch fish. When I used to go fishing with my father, the procedure was simple. You put some weights on a line and a clam on the hook and you let the line down until you felt a thud. Next you pulled it up a couple of feet and jiggled. Then you hauled in a nice fat cod.
My husband's fishing is different. First of all he insists that anything under ten pounds is not a fish. It's bait. Hand-lines he considers quaint souvenirs of a bygone age. To catch a "real" fish it was necessary to invest in: a built‑in fish box, including a circulating live‑fish well; every conceivable size and style of fishing rod, reel, and lure; harpoons and barrels; a bow rail to pen in over-euuberant harpoon throwers. (Ed has a way of following the harpoon.) Next we had to have a look‑out platform, as standing on tiptoes with the binoculars was getting us nowhere. Nothing would do, of course, but the best: an A‑frame designed by Eldredge‑McGinnis, constructed of hollow spars, complete with a steadying sail.
Ever since we moved to Sandy Cove in Cohasset, I have yearned for a front lawn like normal people’s. My husband claims he honestly prefers our yard in its beautiful wild state; I claim he honestly preferred not mowing lawns.
Last spring he surrendered. (This was about the time he ordered the more powerful ship‑to‑ shore phone.) I employed a landscape architect who decided after only an hour of meditation that we had too many trees.
"Oh dear," I said.
Ed has a passion for trees. He even loves dead trees. He's had a complex about trees ever since we lost so many in the hurricane.
All day I plotted my strategy. Ed thinks I wind him around my little finger, but I had a feeling that this time it would take six dray horses and a winch.
"Say, honey," I said, after mellowing him with a T‑bone and stacking the dishwasher single‑handed. "You know that jungle you call a yard? Well, today I think I saw a bear in it."
"We are not cutting down any trees," my husband said distinctly through his newspaper, rattling it for emphasis.
"Oh," I said.
Maybe you think this discouraged me, Darrell. Not at all. I just bided my time and on approximately the same day I saw eye to eye with him on the two new 185‑horsepower Gray engines, he saw eye to eye with me on weeding out all those scrubby little trees.
The landscape architect tied strips of cotton around the ancient elms she wanted spared.
Miss Griffin said later she had clearly told the contractors to leave standing all trees marked with cotton strips. The contractors said they had clearly told Miss Griffin to mark the trees she wanted eliminated. What my husband said clearly shocked even me.
We're going to Nassau for the two older kids' spring vacation. If you're still in Fort Lauderdale, maybe we could stop by and say hello before we return to Massachusetts.
March 5, 1955
I am beginning to feel sorry for Ed Boatguy. Judging by the picture you sent me, I would say he is a man of quiet dignity and rightfully proud of his achievements both afloat and ashore. What happens to him shouldn't happen to a dog. We all make boo‑boos from time to time which we hope to bury sight unseen in the dark of the moon, but what chance does this poor character have with a female Samuel Pepys trailing his every footstep with notebook in hand and a glint in her eye?
I still want to hear about The Sinking. And do let me know exactly when you may be down here
|WITH DARRELL IN FORT|
Correction please! The only time my husband could be described as a man of quiet dignity is when he's asleep. He's different, he's refreshing, he's a wag—but dignified, no. Everyone in town is charmed by my husband, from the most affluent mechanic to the lowliest banker. They say, "Barbara, you're a good kid and we like you, but that husband of yours—what a character!""
At parties, where is the most laughter, the most entertaining conversation? Wherever Ed Malley is. Usually I am too far away to participate in the hilarity because social custom decrees that a wife with a husband like Ed should be maneuvered as far from him as possible. Some day I'm going to put on a disguise and see if I can worm my way into the inner circle. I could go as a worm. Or as Samantha Pepys, notebook at the ready.
You asked about The Sinking. Our first boat was a 32‑foot cabin cruiser built in Ed Boatguy's manufacturing plant by several of his craftsmen in their spare time‑and‑a‑half. From the day of her maiden voyage down Commercial Street in Boston to the day she sank, life aboard the Happy Days was full of surprises.
On the afternoon she was due to be delivered to Sandy Cove, Captain Ed paced the beach in front of our house, binoculars in one hand, movie camera in the other. I lay prone on the sand, brooding over House Beautiful. In my opinion we needed a terrace, a driveway, and new shoes for the kids far more than we needed a boat.
When the cruiser appeared, the neighbors gathered to look her over and pull her apart. One of them didn't like her color. (I had suggested light blue but Ed thought I said bright blue.) Another thought she was poorly proportioned.
"Kind of top‑heavy," said a third. I found myself bristling with loyalty.
"So is Marilyn Monroe," I reminded him.
The boat did look top‑heavy because the roof of the cabin was seven feet high—another of my suggestions. I wanted room for windows instead of portholes, so the captain's galley slave could see where she was going.
Our stateroom was on the small side, but comfortable if we curled up like snails. By way of compensation the cockpit was big enough for four or five couples and several large tuna.
We have never caught a tuna. We have never seen a tuna, but we have reduced the shark population considerably. Sharks can be caught on rod and reel or speared with a harpoon attached to plenty of line wrapped around a barrel. As a rule we prefer the thrill of harpooning them. That is, Ed prefers the thrill of harpooning them. I prefer taking pictures.
It was lovely mid‑September weather, but a bit choppy, the day our boat began taking in water a mile and a half north of the Boston Lightship. Marion Marsh and I were chatting over our beer and sandwiches when we noticed that Wes was diligently operating the hand pump while Ed was rushing around examining sea cocks, toilet fittings, and sink drains.
"Must be a leak somewhere," said Marion.
"How about another beer?" I said.
I went below for the beer and found myself in water up to my ankles. "Hey, Ed," I called. "There's a whole lot of water down here!"
"I know it," Ed called back. "We're sinking. If we had the tender, I'd row to the Lightship for help."
Marion and I went topside and jumped up and down, waving our jackets and shouting at the Lightship. Ed handed us horns and flares. We set off the flares and blew on the horns until we were purple. Ed and Wes tied several kapok pillows together and took off all the hatches, lashing them together in a makeshift raft. Then we huddled together on the flying bridge, awaiting our fate
We sighted a sail leisurely dipping along the horizon, then coming about and heading directly toward us. The nearer it drew, the stiffer became our upper lips. Soon we were cracking jokes and being very British about the whole thing. Our rescuer, it turned out, was George Crocker in the Tango.
"Nice to see you, George," Ed called—the greatest under‑statement since Henry M. Stanley's "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
Marion, Wes, and I swam to the Tango, and George helped us aboard. Ed remained on the Happy Days, sadly surveying the scene. For a moment I had the impression he had decided to go down with his ship. He chose instead to help the harbormaster tow our partially submerged boat to the beach near the yacht club.
With the assistance of his insurance company, the Happy Days was eventually restored to her former almost seaworthy condition.
When we acquired our Matthews the following season a group of friends assembled to help christen her. The Happy Days Again was absolutely blooper-proof, Ed assured me. Then someone got locked in the head and someone fell overboard while attempting to give upside‑down advice through the porthole. Since I think I’ve picked on a certain skipper more often than is courteous, I’m not mentioning any names.
March 25, 1955
I've written you about Ed's tendency to fall overboard, but there was one occasion when he didn't exactly fall.
We had cruised down to Osterville with our neighbors the Thaxters to visit a bachelor friend Keith, in a cottage on the harbor. There had been a party ashore Saturday night, 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 2:15 a.m. I dug out the searchlight and beamed it at Keith's living‑room window. The porch light winked coyly a few times in reply, but there was no other sign of action.
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 run the outboard?"
"Well, no‑‑but I can row."
"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 there was something the matter with one oarlock. The oar kept slipping out and by the time I'd get it righted, Jayne would holler 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 kind of attractive; in fact, the more I brooded about it, the more she looked like Doris Day.
Pulling up to the dock, with one foot on the ladder and the other in the stern, I fell in. I managed to keep my hair dry and sloshed up the ladder—wringing wet from the neck down. Someone must have tipped the boys off that the enemy was storming the ramparts. .
"It's no laughing matter," I fumed as we walked back to the dock. "The dinghy capsized. I might have drowned."
Ed stopped short. "You capsized the dinghy? Oh, my outboard motor!" he moaned. "It'll be ruined!" That's when I pushed him in.
April 4, 1955
I'll bet you haven't done a single thing about that article for Yachting. You should. How can your hard-working husband seek honest and just retirement if you don't start bringing some money into the house? Think of your hungry children.
In other words, shake the lead out!
August 6, 1955
So you dunnit! Sold your story to Yotting! Now they say I'll have to illustrate the thing. How do I get mixed up in these affairs, anyway?
January 16, 1956
Your illustrations are priceless, Darrell! The article is creating a flurry here in Cohasset. A number of friends have conveyed their condolences to "poor Ed" and asked me questions like: "Is he speaking to you yet?" or "When is the divorce taking place?"
Can I help it if he keeps supplying me with material?