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Sunday, July 23, 2017

I RECALLED THE NEWS ABOUT AN ESCAPED MANIAC (7)

August 6, 1955, Cohasset to Gloucester and back
     Left Cohasset 10:45 with Pinkhams, Kathie and her friend Debbie Rohde.  As usual, it was flat out all week, but come the weekend, the sea gets chunky, and we must take a Dramamine. 
    Arrived Gloucester 1:30, the boys had a swim, Florence fixed a snack of sardines and crackers and cheese.  Ed almost got away with that second gin and tonic, but I reminded him he’d taken the pledge (not to live it up more than once a day).  Or as the man said: “It was 8 a.m., too early for breakfast, so we had to drink on an empty stomach.”
     I heated Franco-American spaghetti for the girls with a side of boned chicken, which soon became chicken-of-the-sea because they didn’t like that icky jelly stuff around it.
    Arrived Scituate Harbor 5:45.  Dropped Kathie and Debbie off and gave them taxi money. 
     Florence’s son Warren and daughter-in-law Vi joined us aboard for Happy Hour.  We brought our BYOB ashore, had a fine dinner at the Yacht Club.  Started home at 10:30--one engine on the blink.
August 9, 1955, Cohasset to Draggers
     A beautiful day for Kathie’s long-planned, oft-postponed outing for her friends.  The busted engine was repaired just in time, and Hurricane Connie is prolonging her vacation in Florida , so here we are, rolling along in gentle and variable breezes.
     It’s a wee bit chunky out.  Remembering last summer’s ashy-pale young faces, I made the gang line up for Dramamine.  There were the familiar cries of, “Oh, I never get seasick!” but Mama Malley pushed a pill into each and every sailor.  The crew: Kathie, Stephanie Tashjean, Susans Churchill and Davis, Debbie Rohde, Priscilla Lincoln, Mary Humphreys, Judy Merritt, Margo Wilcox--and The Boys: Bobby Bailey, Don Damon, Jack Bursk, Roy MacDonald, and Jack’s friend Burt Urlick.
     Caught loads and loads of trawler fish with a dip net--not the kind you’d want in your chowder or even in your garbage pail.  The sharks seemed to feel the same way about them.  For excitement, the kids played Flying Fish--all it takes is a good throwing arm, a dip net, and a plentiful supply of dead fish. The deck is covered with scales.
August 16, 1955, Cohasset to Provincetown and back
     Ed took the day off and persuaded Wes Marsh to do the same.  (This was like persuading Minxi to eat filet mignon).  Arose at 5:15, met the Marshes at the Yacht Club at 6:00, chugged out of the misted harbor along with the other early birds-- the lobster boats.
     The old myth about school tuna in Provincetown has been circulating again, so we set out with high hopes, arriving at Race Point three hours later.  While we were cruising around in search of the mythical fish, the starboard motor stalled.  Ed and Wes worked on it for over an hour but got no response.  This would have been a good day to go to the movies.
     Had beer and snack, started limping home around 2:00 p.m.  Saw shark, missed shark. Saw more sharks, missed more sharks.  Finally Ed harpooned one through its fin, and the shark took off, pole and all.  Ed pulled the line in gently, at first met resistance, then it came easily and we knew we’d lost him.  Also lost metal end of pole, which put an end to further attempts.  The sharks seemed to catch on that they were safe, because we were soon surrounded by them.
     Lost our bearings in all the excitement.  Ed tinkered with the RDF, but it was Wes who finally sighted the Light Ship with his little naked eye.  About the same time we saw a tremendous aircraft carrier steaming along, apparently from the port of Cohasset, which seems unlikely.  I won’t believe we’re really found until I see Minot’s Light dead ahead.
August 21, 1955, Cohasset to Sharks
     If seagulls were sharks, what a fisherman Ray Remick would be.  He was getting really over eager, though, when he saw that sinister triangular-shaped beer can.  This was after he’d had a number of opportunities, both with the harpoon and rod and reel.  It’s a funny thing, I told him, Bob Whitcomb didn’t have a bit of trouble catching his shark.  Ray replied that he heard a phone ringing and he thought it was for me.
     Also along on Our Most Unsuccessful Shark-Fishing Trip were Dottie Remick, Frank Massa, Kathie and Teddy.  Teddy had a shark on the hook for several exciting minutes but lost him.  Dottie and I had more fun than anyone, reading our books.  
August 22, 1955, Cohasset to Sharks
     Lois and Larry Hyde from Detroit are our guests on this beautiful August Monday.  Ed has guaranteed to get Important Business Contact, Larry, a shark on rod and reel, with a harpoon, or at least with a movie camera.
     Before tackling the sharks, we devoured cold boiled lobsters.  Lois told us it was practically impossible to get fresh fist of any kind in Detroit.  Once she planned to have boiled salmon on the 4th of July, and when she asked for it in the market, the clerk pointed to the canned goods section.  “But I want fresh salmon,” she protested.  “Lady,” he said, “It only comes in cans.” 
     We met some good-natured fishermen on one of the draggers.  They told us to come alongside and they would give us some bait.   In return, we offered them six cans of cold beer which they accepted without  resistance.   They dumped an entire pailful of fish into our net--including a couple of fine haddock, all cleaned and ready for the pot.  These we put on ice immediately.
     This was not a lucky day unless you consider it from the sharks’ point of view.  We saw a couple, dragged our bait in front of their noses, but they were uninterested.  At least we shall have a tasty haddock chowder as a consolation prize.
August 26, 1955, Cohasset to Provincetown
     ALONE AT LAST!!!!!!!!   I love my kids, but oh, their father!  He’s down in the galley right now making things shipshape after a cow-steak dinner--Mr. Butcher, how could you?  We spent Happy Hour trying to think up titles for the Springmaid Sheet contest.  “Plenty of Elbow Room on a Springmaid Sheet.”  “Men Seldom Make Passes at Girls Who Wear Glasses--Even on a Springmaid Sheet.”  “I Just Want Affection, Not an Education.” (from the song That’s the Love I Like).
August 27, 1955, Provincetown
     The Provincetown jinx is thwarting us again.  Woke up to find the rain beating down after the weatherman had predicted fair and warmer.  Took movies of Ed swimming in the rain and bleating about how cold it was.  Then I stood on the ladder, waiting to have my picture taken (Ed always says Gee, honey, there wasn’t much of you in that reel) and finally had to suggest it pointblank.  I said if Marilyn Monroe were aboard, he wouldn’t need to be reminded to get out the camera.  His rejoinder about what he'd get out was too vulgar for the Log.


CAPTAIN & RARE PHOTO OF FIRST MATE 
     Had sausage, beans, applesauce, coffee cake for breakfast--agreeing to eat heartily and skip lunch.  I spent the morning struggling with a letter to Darrell McClure--the man is one slave driver of a correspondent, hardly giving me a chance to recover from writer’s cramp before he shoots back another letter, sometimes two in a row.  I tear my hair, trying to think of some amusing episode to tell him about, but it seems as if I shot my bolt in my earlier letters.
      Finally, glassy-eyed, I finish the composition and find it has cleared outside.  Ed had gone below to take a nap but I roused him and said come on, fella, let’s live a little.  Go ashore, hire bicycles, cycle to tennis courts to see how wet they were, and make a reservation for tomorrow.
     Back to Happy Days for a nap, a swim to wake us up, a cocktail.
     Gene Krupa was at the Atlantic House--special show for teenagers 5-8 p.m.  Figuring we qualified, we dropped in at 7:00 to listen to the Old Master.  My feelings were hurt when we ordered daiquiris and no one asked to see my birth certificate.  Krupa is a good-looking, clean-cut type of fellow in spite of the wild life they say he leads.  Ed was impressed with the saxophone player.  He said no one ever explained to him about harmony when he was a kid playing alto-sax, so he couldn’t understand why he was not supposed to play the melody.  “They’d tell me to go boop-boop every now and then, only I never went boop-boop in the right places.  Used to drive the conductor crazy trying to figure who was out of sync.”
     “Well, anyway you’re a good navigator.  How did you learn so much about navigation?” I asked.
     “My Bible told me so,” said Ed.
August 28, 1955, Provincetown to Cohasset
     Fair but windy.  Played tennis at Tennis and Yacht Club from 10:00 to 11:30.  Ed won 7-5, 6-4, but I didn’t make it easy for him.  According to him, all my best shots are lucky--off the handle, on the tape, held in by the wind, helped over by the wind, etc.
     Talked Ed into buying me some Lasagna for lunch at the Towne House.   Have always wanted to try it; between us we finished one order.  Decided since small-craft warnings were up, we’d better scoot for home.
     Left at 2:00.  Extremely rough and windy, waves breaking over the flying bridge and us.  Steady sail helped prevent rolling.
September 2, 1955, Cohasset to Cuttyhunk
     Marion said: “I’ll bet Wes and I are going to have more fun on this trip than we’ve ever had--and we’ve had a lot of fun.”
     That’s what I like about the Marshes; they’re so enthusiastic about cruising.  We left Cohasset at 2:10 p.m., two hours behind schedule.  (The Big Boston Business Typhoon had to catch upon things at the office after a two-day trip to Detroit.) Our ultimate destination is Martha’s Vineyard, but we decided to make a stop along the way at Cuttyhunk.)
     At 8:40, we are approaching Cuttyhunk.  It’s a beautiful night, the moon is full, but Marion and I are not, with the dinner hour so late. We are also thirsty, but after toying with the idea of stirring up some Martinis in the cocktail saucepan, we have decided to be strong and wait for the boys.     
     Marion just read aloud an interesting paragraph from the U.S. Coast Pilot: “Vessels bound for Cuttyhunk Harbor generally approach from Buzzard’s Bay.  The principal dangers are marked by buoys.  Strangers should not enter except in the daytime with clear weather.”  Luckily, the Marshes and the Malleys are not strangers.
     At 9:20, we dropped the anchor at Cuttyhunk.  Moonlight is simmering on the water and onions are shimmering in the pan--I’m so hungry I can’t think straight.
     Everyone had Martinis except Ed, who had a sudden attack of rectitude and stuck to Tom Collinses.   It was pretty late when I finally plunked down the baked-in-foil potatoes and sliced meatloaf in tomato sauce.  It was even later when I was getting into my flannel nightshirt under the impression that I was going to bed.
     “Ahoy there!” called a voice.
     There was some conversation back and forth which I couldn’t hear because I was busy praying Ed wouldn’t get it into his head to invite them aboard.
     “Hey, Wes,” Ed called from the galley,* “invite them aboard for a drink!”     Marion came below to see what I was doing.  I was resignedly putting on some lipstick.  She made a lot of uncompl-imentary remarks about my nightshirt and said she would not allow me to appear in public wearing “that thing.”  To satisfy her, I put on my raincoat and made my entrance.
* Where, Ed wants it understood, he was doing the goddamm dishes.
     After a couple of hours Marion got to that swaggering stage where she talks out of the side of her mouth like a gun moll.  She whispered loud enough for anyone to hear, “Hey, Barbara, do you want me to get rid of these characters?”
     The way she said “get rid of” sounded like she was going to coat them with cement and shove them overboard.  I told her to control herself a little longer; maybe they’d leave under their own power.  This they did at about 1:30, with noisy farewells and their bottles.
September 3, 1955, Cuttyhunk
     The secret phrase was “Breakfast at dawn,” which no one remembered except Marion because she made it up this morning.  It wasn’t exactly dawn, it was 8:30, but it was like dawn.  Eddie, Wes, and I had a swim while Marion used up four days’ supply of water in the shower.  Breakfast consisted of pre-cooked sausages and scrambled eggs country style (stir them once, then let them shift for themselves).  I found some notes I had recorded last night to make sure I wouldn’t omit anything from the Log.  One of the notes said simply and starkly “brine.” We were hilarious last night about the business of the brine, but now it's a bore. Wes was trying to dig out an olive and to expedite matters, dumped the brine into the nearest jug. The jug was full of Martinis.  They were so salty it seemed likely we would go out of our heads and jump over-board if we drank too many of them.  Ed made a fresh supply.
     Ed also made a few notes.  They are undecipherable.
     We spent six hours cruising around looking for swordfish.  Wes spotted a rusty can, a keg, a tree stump.  We saw three sharks and three sharks saw us.  Ed, then Marion and Wes, claimed on separate occasions to have seen a large fish leap out of the water and fall back in a shower of spray.  If I sound skeptical, it’s because I’ve seen too many six-foot seagulls leap out of the water in my day.
     Had highballs, went ashore at seven to find a place to eat.  Our Cruising Guide recommended three hotel dining rooms: the Bosworth House, the Poplars, and the Avalon Club.  On the dock we ran into our friends of last night, and Dottie said she thought we wouldn’t care for the Poplars’ atmosphere.  The Bosworth House was the next nearest place, but we found they served only their guests.  We walked along the shore road, accompanied by an army of mosquitos, until at last we reached the Avalon Club.  We were delighted to see an unusual bar made of a dory cut in half, not so much because it was unusual but because it was a bar.  The owner, an attractive blonde, confessed they had no liquor license and guests were supposed to bring their own.  But, she added, she could “give” us a drink.  You could hear the quotation marks when she said it.  Had three broiled lobsters, and guess who had steak?  Everything was superb.
September 4, 1955, Cuttyhunk to Edgartown
      Spent most of the day looking for fish.  Our only satisfaction:  of the dozens of other sports-fishermen prowling around, none of them seemed to be doing any better.  Ed said if it remained calm we would go to Edgartown Harbor instead of returning to Cuttyhunk.
     Edgartown is where Ed and Alden originally picked up the Happy Days.  I have always wanted to make a visit, chiefly because of Ed’s description of the cherrystones you can slurp up while standing on the dock.
     The fishing shack where you buy the cherrystones was closed, so we went to a cafe and had two orders apiece with our cocktails.  Decided the menu looked appealing, stayed on for dinner.  I called home to find out how Kathie made out yesterday at the English riding event at Hatherly Country Club. Some of her Cohasset friends have been snooty about Kathie’s fondness for Western riding, claiming disdainfully anyone can win ribbons that way, but it took real talent to be a good English rider.
     She decided to take some lessons on the QT (“Heels down, toes out, hands together--how am I going to remember all that nonsense!”) and find out how she would do in competition.  She won $9.00, a bridle, and three ribbons.
      At the time I telephoned there was a jitterbug party going on, so I got a polite brush-off from Kathie with “Anything else, Mom?  I’ve got to go now.”
    After dinner Ed and I went for a walk and tried to get “lost.” Found a romantic spot on a moonlit beach but hardly had we said “Alone at last!” when we heard familiar voices approaching.  That old bloodhound Wes had tracked us down.
September 5, 1955, Edgartown to Cohasset
     A beautiful, warm Labor Day, but strong southeast winds had sprung up, so Ed got itchy to head for home.  When we stopped for gas, Marion and I walked the half-mile or so to the village to stock up on magazines, newspapers, books--also two jackknives Marion had promised the Little Kids.  Speaking of the Little Kids, Ed promises we will take them to Provincetown sometime this month.  I’ll believe it when I see it.
     Got to canal around 1:00 p.m., left it shortly after two, put up steady sail, as wind was now hitting us broadside.  (Had lunch of corned beef sandwiches with Bermuda onion during calm period in canal.  “How can I diet!” Ed complained for the record.)
September 9, 1955, Cohasset to Provincetown
     Big treat for the Little Kids: their first overnight trip on the Happy Days.  Left dock and $9.00 worth of charts (How the captain cussed about that!) at around 5:20.  As we passed Minot’s Light, Ed slowed down to haul the dinghy into the cockpit because it was proving too rough to tow it. 
    “Are we in Provincetown already?” Timmy asked.
     Passed out the Dramamine, but Timmy nevertheless looked wan when we finally dropped the anchor at 8:45.  For dinner I pan-broiled a couple of whopping tenderloins with onions, plus baked potatoes, and asparagus--a feast for everyone except poor Tim, who still felt queasy.
September 10, 1955, Provincetown
     We had planned to bring Grandpa and Tina out fishing for the day, but the weather was so rough and windy, it was all we could do to get ashore in the dinghy.  Met folks at town landing at 9:15, joined them while they had breakfast at the Coffee Shop, decided to spend day at Orleans.  On the way, Grandpa took several side tours, including the dunes at Truro where Ed demonstrated his fitness by racing the children up the steepest dune--and winning.  Tina and I demonstrated our good sense by sitting on a rock below.
     Stopped for lunch outside Orleans, much to Ed’s disapproval.  “Eating is just a silly habit,” he said.  Grandpa and Vonnie ordered steamed clams, Tina the Club Hamburger, fried clam roll for Tim, and a half pint of fried clams for me. 
      “I’ll just have a chocolate frappe,” Ed said.  Then he poached on all our plates until there was nothing left but salt and pepper--his way of going without lunch.  Timmy didn’t like the fried clams, they had black stuff in them. What he intended to order was steamed clams.
     The folks dropped Ed and me at the local tennis court for an hour.  Tar surface, but not bad.  Meanwhile the grandparents bought kites for the children, and we spent the rest of the afternoon trying to launch the contrary things in Grandpa and Tina’s yard overlooking Pleasant Bay.  Vonnie’s was the first to stay aloft, but Timmy’s had a tendency to Kamikaze all over the place.  By the time Ed got the right amount of bow and length of string, Tim and Vonnie had wondered off to the frog pond, leaving Grandpa and Daddy playing with the kites.
     The children returned covered with mud.  I gave them a good scrubbing in the second-floor tub (the first time they’ve been really clean all summer) and took a bath myself.  We all drove back to Provincetown, planning to change into our good clothes on the boat and have dinner ashore.  It was still choppy in the harbor, so we decided the children would have to eat in their dirty clothes rather than risk the trip in the dinghy.  Ed chugged away from the town landing but hadn’t gone far when I decided I’d just as soon eat in my dirty clothes, too. He brought me back to the dock. 
     I had a small adventure while Ed proceeded to the Happy Days without me. I was standing on the edge of the dock watching him when a young man nearby looked over at me and said, “May I ask you a personal question?  Thinking he was going to say, “Can those two great big children possibly be yours?” to which I would reply--well, anyway, he just wanted to know if I wasn’t freezing to death.  I gave him a cold stare, and suddenly remembering the newspaper account of an escaped maniac pushing a girl off a cliff, edged away from the side of the dock.  He grabbed my arm and mumbled something about going someplace where it was warm.  Then the young man’s friend came along and took him away, leaving me with a True Story for the Log.
     We had a fine dinner at the Towne House.  Timmy, true to form, longed for everything on the table except what he had ordered.  In fact, Grandpa became so discouraged because the children acted like children, I heard him mutter to himself, “Well, they’re well-adjusted, anyway.” This reminded me of my old nursemaid, Catherine Minton, who commented about Vonnie:  “My, what an energetic child!  Energy enough to tear the house down!”  I related this memory to the family.
     “Why did she say that?” Vonnie asked, making a face.  “All the old ladies I know are cuckoo!”  Then she looked at Tina and patting her hand, added, “but you’re not cuckoo, Tina.”  
     “Gee, thanks,” said Tina.
     There was a bowling alley across from the Towne House and Timmy talked us into going in. Grandpa and I preferred to watch while the others bowled.  Vonnie finally got a strike, which started what Vonnie called an argument between her father and me.  Actually, it was only a discussion, and the only reason I raised my voice was because Ed was talking so loud.  I thought he had failed to give her enough score, and he said I ought to realize he knew something about keeping score after all the years he had been bowling.  To settle it, we called over the manager, but these men always stick together.
     We walked down to the dock to see if the wind had died down.  It was wilder than ever, so we accepted Grandpa and Tina’s invitation to spend the night in Orleans. Ed offered to drive.  When we reached a certain stretch in the road, Grandpa warned him to take it easy; there was a trap in operation. 
     “I think it’s too late,” said Ed.  “A car’s been trailing us for half a mile now.”
      We all looked straight ahead because if it was a police car, we wouldn’t want the officer to think we had guilty consciences by turning around to look.  Then, before I could stop her, Vonnie stuck her head out the window, and immediately the siren sounded. 
     “Well, I was hot!” Vonnie protested.
     Ed got a ticket, being charged with driving 50 in a 40-mile zone and 60 in a 45-mile zone.  When we stopped at the drug store to buy toothbrushes, a couple approached and asked if we’d been stopped by the police.  The man said Ed was not speeding, it was picayune of the officer to stop him, and he was willing to testify in court to that effect.  It was kind of him, but Ed didn’t want to put him to that much trouble.
September 11, 1955, Provincetown to Cohasset
     Eddie clobbered me at tennis again this morning.  Then we read the Sunday papers with Grandpa and Tina while the children collected some crickets, an inchworm, and a frog.  The 12:20 weather forecast indicated that a storm was slowly heading north from Cape Hatteras, but we could count on fair weather for a few hours.  It looked as if we’d better take advantage of it before we were marooned in Orleans with the folks.  Not that we weren’t welcome!  Grandpa kept saying, “Hurry up kids, we’d better get going!” only because he was afraid he’d get too attached to us.
     Vonnie was unhappy on the way to Provincetown because Timmy had a frog and she didn’t, all she had was an inchworm.
     The harbor had flattened out enough so that the four of us were able to pile into the dinghy.  I was taking movies of Grandpa and Tina waving goodbye when Ed snapped the starting cord of the outboard and knocked the camera out of my hand.  It just missed going over the side, landing instead on Vonnie’s knee, which we all deemed fortunate except Vonnie   Gave children their supper en route, arrived Cohasset 6 p.m.
     THEY WERE VERY GOOD CHILDREN!

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