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Sunday, July 23, 2017

I WAS TIRED OF THE ENDLESS PARTYING. (8)

Saturday, September 7, 1957, Scituate Harbor
     Headed for Provincetown fishing grounds at 9:00 a.m.  Both felt a bit wobbly and hungry, so I cooked hamburgers for breakfast, which I couldn’t taste because of my cold.  Couldn’t taste dinner last night, either.  (To borrow from Shakespeare, the unkindest cut of a good tenderloin is being unable to taste it.)
     Cool gray day, wind began to come up in the afternoon.  Trolled for tuna but they weren’t biting.  Weather looked so dubious Ed proposed returning to Scituate Harbor for the night.  I accepted his proposal and we lived happily ever after.
     Dropped hook in Scituate at 6:45.  Correction! ( I got ahead of myself here.)  What actually happened was that Alden called to us from Seabird II to pick up the mooring next to him.  The Hills would be arriving for cocktails at 7:30 and would we join them?  
     After cocktails the six of us went ashore to the Harbor View Restaurant for dinner.  Marguerite told a joke about a Sunday School teacher who didn’t drink or smoke. 
I actually remember it half a century later. Naughty punch line: “You don’t have to smoke and drink to have a good time.” [2007]
Sunday, September 8, 1957, Scituate Harbor to Cohasset
     Lovely day, sea flat.  We could have stayed in Provincetown after all.  Alden hailed us from the club launch as we were getting dressed.  He was wet from head to toe, having fallen in.  I barely reacted to the news; since Ed is the champion in that category.
     Alden suggested that he and Flo go fishing with us on the Happy Days, sharing gas expenses and leaving Rufus on the Seabird.  We thought this was a nifty plan, especially leaving Rufus on the Seabird.  Knowing him well, in five minutes he’d be hopelessly tangled in our fishing gear.
     It’s wonderful to be cruising again with the Pinkhams. Now that they have their own boat, we never see them in the summer except across a span of ocean.
     Left Scituate Harbor at 10:00.  Trolled for tuna off PT all day.  No success.
     Arrived back at Scituate Harbor 6:15.  Ed and Alden went ashore to purchase provisions for dinner aboard Seabird.   Ed telephoned home to say we would be late, yelled to me from the dock, “Can Timmy go to movies with McKennas?”    “What about Vonnie?” I yelled.   “She wasn’t invited,” he yelled.   “No, he can’t go, it’s a school night,” I yelled.
     Had a nice dinner, prepared by Alden.  Flo and I did dishes. Alden and Ed brought Seabird  into dock to pick up the dinghy, had difficulty getting near enough for Ed to jump across the void.  Methinks Alden is a better chef than steersman.
    Ed and I left for Cohasset at 9:30.  I began collecting clothing, cosmetics, shoes, etc. from drawers and closets. I fear this may be our last overnight trip.  Hate, hate, hate winter!
Saturday, September 14, 1957, Cohasset
     Yesterday , Friday the 13th,  was the hottest on record at 93 degrees. Today beautiful, flat as glass on the water--sea and sky merging on the horizon.  Distant boats float in the air.
     Went by Minot’s at 10:30 a.m, Vonnie and Timmy as crew. Searched for tuna off the coast of Provincetown.  Located schools but as usual they weren’t biting.  After several hours saw a shark.  It was Vonnie’s turn to try the harpoon, but she wasn’t strong enough to do more than startle him with her cast.
     The next shark we spotted we left to  the expert in the family.  Ed thrust the harpoon into its back and threw over the barrel.  The line whirled off the barrel as the shark took off; the children shrieked and hollered and hugged their father.  He modestly allowed he was pleased that he hadn’t lost his knack with the harpoon.
     Eventually the shark was drowned, his tail cut off as a souvenir. This operation distresses me.  I have to remind myself that our victim is a cold-blooded murderer himself.  But he has to eat, a little voice says.  Shut up, I say.
     This afternoon we witnessed a strange black fin flipping in and out of the ocean .  We came up behind it close enough to recognize a big speckled sunfish.  First we’d ever seen. outside of a book.    
     It was getting late as we headed for Cohasset.  Obviously the children wouldn’t be home in time for dinner; but I had hopes of reaching home by 7:00, in time perhaps to get to the Golf Club Record Hop.
     “Daddy!" Timmy cried. "Look at that school! It's beautiful!  Please slow down and let us put the lines out.!”  A few minutes later, at 5:45, a tuna grabbed our lure.  Since Timmy had played the last tuna, this one was Vonnie’s.
     “Call the Thaxters and tell them we’ll be late to the Record Hop,” I said to Ed.  No answer at  Thaxters'.  He called the Remicks, and Dottie said she would tell Kathryn the children would be late for dinner.
     Vonnie soon wearied of trying to pump in her tuna, so Ed took her place in the fishing chair.  At 6:45 the fish was still putting up a good fight.  Vonnie and Timmy were bickering over the shark tail (which we had) and the tuna tail (which was still attached to the tuna.)
     All of a sudden Ed cried, “Oh!  It’s gone!  That’s what I get for hurrying!”
Saturday, May 31, 1958, Cohasset to Scituate
     Left Cohasset at a little before 5:30 p.m., heading for an opening shindig at Scituate Harbor as guests of the Pinkhams.  Nice weather for May, albeit a bit windy.  (“Windy as hell,” quoth the Captain).  Sampled the various brews on three cruisers tied up at the dock, in company with Pinkhams and other boating enthusiasts.  Had buffet supper under tent adjoining Clubhouse.  For once we were first in line for the buffet, due to Florence’s glimpse of boiled lobster halves on the table.  In addition to lobster, we stoked up on baked ham, baked beans, potato salad, tossed salad, second helpings, and sundaes for dessert.  Don’t ask me where we put it--where there’s no will power, there’s a way.
Sunday, June 1, 1958, Scituate to Cohasset
     Kept awake all night by bells ringing in my ear.  “Not bells,” Ed said this morning.
     “Are too bells,” I said.  “Are not,” he said. “Are too,” I said.  Then he showed me the source of those bell-like tones--a pancake timer and a soup ladle making beautiful music together. 
     Alden, Florence, and Ed went offshore in Seabird to test Alden’s Loran. I went home to garden.  “Still windy as a S.O.B.,” to abbreviate salty skipper.
Sunday, June 8, 1958, Cohasset
     Still blowing.  Ed rowed me out to the mooring, paddling on his knees in Ray’s “lousy pram,” to use one of his milder descriptions of this peculiar craft.  I think it was designed by a woman to hold geraniums in her front yard and look quaint.  To convey two people a hundred yards against high winds and strong tides, a window box would be more seaworthy.
     We had two beers and read the Sunday papers and spied on our neighbors with the binoculars. Ed said he was just trying to read the name of the boat the pretty blonde was climbing aboard, but I told him I wasn’t born yesterday.  He had the gall to agree with me.
Friday, June 13, 1958, Cohasset to Scituate Harbor
     Ed got home at 5:15, ready to take off for some romantic foreign port, and where was I?  At the vet’s, helping Kathie load the goat into the car.  Actually she didn’t need my help. Pokie climbed into the backseat like a little soldier--a far cry from what she put Vonnie and me through last year when we were trying to convince her that riding in cars was lots of fun.  I have to give Kathie credit, she has a way with goats.  (Pokie had to go to the vet’s because she was attacked by a dog and suffered a cut rear end.)  When we returned to our driveway, Heidi whinnied with joy at seeing her little friend again, and I think Ed was almost as happy to see me.
     The question was, where to?  We had planned to head for Gloucester, but as we left the harbor, it began to sprinkle.  We could get to Gloucester all right, but if the weather worsened, we might get stuck there Sunday.  We decided to go to Scituate Harbor instead and pretend we were in some romantic foreign port.  Arrived at 7:15, had a couple of drinks and a baked stuffed trout dinner--thank you, harbor master Jim Gracie, your catch was delicious.
     The idea was that we would whoop it up after dinner, but I kept falling asleep over my book.  We compromised by splitting a bottle of beer and going to bed.
P.S.  I lost my wallet last week, thought it might be on the boat but Cliff’s assistant, Doug, looked for it without success. It was a Mother’s Day gift from the children, so it held sentimental value as well as my license, $2.00 in cash, $18.00 in pay checks,* my charge cards, and a credit slip for $17.95 at Barbara Stone’s.  After I searched the boat myself, Ed said, “Now wait a minute, let me take this couch apart”--and there it was, between the couch and the wall.  What a lucky Friday the 13th!  
* Worked in Ed’s office during winter of 57-58
Saturday, June 14, 1958, Scituate Harbor
     Took the launch ashore, called the house, did some shopping, had a wonderful breakfast at the Copper Lantern.  Back to Happy Days to read the papers and putter around.  I worked on our bonnets for the Beaux Arts Ball, winding crepe paper around a basket as a start.  I plan to attach rocks to one bonnet, rolls to the other, and we’ll attend the party as--three guesses.  Ed watched me with superior amusement while I wound and pasted, but I'll have the last laugh when he rocks and rolls wearing my creation.
     I observed that the boat was in very good condition.  Ed conceded it was nearly ready except for the paint job in the main cabin. “Those little moldings have to be painted.” Those little moldings can’t even be seen unless you’re lying flat on your bunk, but our perfectionist Captain won’t rest until they are touched up.  At home the wallpaper is stained and peeling, the paint is flecked from the woodwork on our front door, our front doorknob is missing, and three tiles have fallen from the kitchen ceiling.  Is our perfectionist aware of these defects in our home?  You’re damn right he is, if I have anything to say about it and I do.  Does he do anything about these defects?  No.  
      This afternoon we went to the movies.  This was a mistake.  Kathie, I love you, and I love James Stewart, and your dad loves Kim Novak, but “Vertigo” is not comparable to “Rear Window,” in our humble and worthless parental opinions.       
     After the movie, Ed wanted me to call the house again to see how everything was.  I was opposed to the idea, being convinced that everything was awful and not wanting to hear about it.  I promised to call in the morning.  We bought some cherry-stone clams and some cocktail sauce at the fish market.  The nice man opened the clams for us, and we took them back to the boat. 
     After dinner Ed wanted to whoop it up again, but as soon as I finished my drink I went below and upchucked.  Must have been those dead clams.
Sunday, June 15,1958, Scituate Harbor to Cohasset
     Wakened to the sound of cheery good-mornings and “Happy Father’s Day”s being exchanged in neighboring nesting boats.  Ed muttered that his dead clams weren’t setting too well, either, and he was going to sleep for another hour.
     It was a cold morning.  I warmed the coffee roll in our Thaxter gift oven and heated up tomato soup, only to learn that my man’s feverish innards were crying for something ice cold.  He had grapefruit and milk and felt better.
     “I didn’t hear anyone wishing me a Happy Father’s Day,” said Ed.
     “You’re not going to, either,” was my reply.  This attitude dates back to a certain day in May when I received not so much as a verbal Happy Mother’s Day from old Bah Humbug.  Mother’s Day was just a racket, he informed me, just a lot of crass commercialism.  I brushed away a tear and resolved to REMEMBER.
     Well, Father’s Day was different, Ed explained today.  It was a dignified occasion calling for a show of sincere appreciation on the part of wives and children.  I gave him a sincere raspberry and remained huffy.  (Trouble is, he just laughs at me when I act like that, failing to realize he’s being punished.)
     Took launch ashore, called house.  Timmy answered. “Mummy, Mummy, it’s Father’s Day!”  “I know it,” I said grumpily.  Kathie was happy because Leo had invited her to go to Nantasket yesterday afternoon. Was Teddy being good? I asked her.  Yes, he was good, even Timmy was being good.  Vonnie said she made $3.00 baby-sitting.  She also informed me it was Father’s Day—“Did you know it?”  “Yes, I knew it.”  “Oh,” she said, disappointed.  “I wanted it to be a surprise.”
      “If you really want to surprise Daddy, I said meanly, “don’t give him anything.”    
     We bought the New York Times and took the launch back the Happy Days.  Read paper, drank beer.
     Arrived Cohasset 2:30, hailed by children bearing hand-crayoned cards and gifts for Old Bah Humbug.  Mrs. B.H. slipped him another raspberry when the kids weren’t looking.
Sunday, June 22, 1958, Cohasset to Scituate Harbor
     Thick fog this morning, began to clear by 11:00.  Left Cohasset at 11:20, shut off motors a mile or two beyond Minot’s, read Sunday papers, lunched on beer and crackers and cheese.  Joined flotilla of Cohasset skippers heading for Scituate Harbor.  Stopped by Seabird to see Pinkhams, had freshly caught baked flounder for dessert. Took Pinkhams with us to nest for half an hour with Cohasset gang of six or eight boats and at least fifty aboard, mostly children.  Were sorry we didn’t bring Timmy.  Alden gave us some sea-worms to give him as a consolation.
     Returned to Cohasset at 3:20.
Saturday, June 28, 1958, Cohasset to Stellwagon Ledge
     Ed and I left the harbor at 10:30 this morning, a bit numb but still breathing after last night’s Beaux Arts Ball.  He was so disappointed at not winning first prize for our Rock and Roll bonnets, he tried to set a new world’s record on his bar stool.  Dishonorable Mention, that’s his prize.  He doesn’t remember the drive home, which strikes me as strange because I’ll never forget it.  I half hoped he’d succeed in his efforts to wrap us around a tree--it might teach him a lesson if we lived through it.  Ed vows he’ll never get loaded again, and by the way, the sun is setting in the east tonight.
     Decided to go to Hayes’s party instead of spending the night on the boat.  Positively our last fling before settling down to a conservative, fresh-air-and-sunshine summer. Besides, Anne has invited all the Bad Actors, and the party wouldn’t be complete without us.  Arrived Cohasset a little before six.
Sunday, June 29, 1958, Cohasset
     On the way home from Hayes’s party last night I asked Ed how it was we had been allowed to slip away at the reasonable hour of 1:30.  “It was simple,” he said.  “I told Blake I had to take you home because you were loaded.”  If you ever read this, Blake, I was not loaded, I was tired.  Tired of the endless partying, if anyone wants to know the truth.  [I once said to Jayne that I was worried about the effect our partying lifestyle was having on our children. She was very angry with me.  I don’t remember what she said, but it was enough to silence cowardly me.]      
      We woke up at 8:00 on this beautiful Sunday morning, feeling a lot better than we did at the same time yesterday.  We decided it was such a nice day we had to share it with someone.  
     “We could bring Timmy,” I suggested.  “He’s been dying to go with us for weeks.”  
     Ed mumbled something unenthusiastic.  “Well, let’s see how much he wants to go,” I said.  “If he starts really nagging us, let’s tell him he can come.”
     Timmy was sound asleep, so I went into his room and began banging drawers.  When he woke up his first words were, “Hey, are ya going out on the boat, can I come, hey can I come, please, you never let me come!”
     “Okay.” I said.      
     What?”       
     “I said okay.”
     There was a long silence. Then he came to life.   “Hey, can I have the first turn with the harpoon, please, I never get the first turn!”  Such is life with Timmy [who grew up to be the dearest, most considerate, most attentive son a mother could ask for].
     Having stuck our necks out this far, we figured we might as well live dangerously and invite Ted and his pals, too.  Ted called around, but none of his pals could come.
     “How about you, Kathie, any chance you could get away?”
     Kathie said her baby-sitting business was so light, maybe she could arrange it--and it would probably be her last chance for the rest of the summer.  She rounded up Sue Churchill, and as we left the house, Ted decided to honor us with his presence, pals or no pals.  This left Vonnie, but she was happy--she had Baby Fran all to herself for the day. [Who was Baby Fran?  Forty-two years later, no one in the family can remember.] This also left Isha “Michelangelo” Beyer, who will probably go wild with paintbrush touch-ups on our practically empty house.  She uses a fast-drying paint for her home improvements but not fast enough for children with curious fingers.
     Kathie was insulted because Ed let Timmy take the boat through the channel.  “Daddy never let me when I was that young.”
      I pondered my answer.  “We like him better than you.”
     I started to tell Ted the chastity-belt joke, but after my experience with Kathie, who had never heard of the term, I figured I’d better ask him if he knew what a chastity belt was.  He looked blank, then said, “Well, first of all, what’s a chastity?”
     Timmy thought he knew.  “It’s a Garrison belt.”  I decided to save the joke until they were older.
     Out at Stellwagon Ledge, saw a big fin.  “Maybe it’s a tuna!” Timmy cried.
     “Don’t be silly,” said Ted. “It’s too big to be a tuna, it’s a whale.”
     Went over to investigate.  “Maybe it is a tuna,” said Ted.  “It isn’t spouting.”
      “It’s too big to be a tuna,” said Tim.   
      “But it isn’t spouting,” said Ted.
     “It’s a whale holding its breath,” I said.
     It was actually three whales, maybe the same Musketeers Ed and I saw yesterday.
     Then Tim spotted a V-shaped wave cruising along in the distance and shouted the news from his perch on the lookout tower.
     “Head for it, Kathie,” said the Captain.
     “Boy, have I got good eyes!” Tim exulted.
      “Only because you were the only one looking,” Ted said with big-brotherly scorn.
      “I think it’s a tuna,” said Tim, unruffled.  “No harm in thinking.”  But the v-shaped wave turned out to be a shark so small, Kathie begged her father not to harpoon it.  “The harpoon would go right through it.”
     Timmy was more bloodthirsty, so Ed flung the harpoon broadside, and it was a beautiful miss.  Kathie was relieved.
     Later we saw a tremendous whale half a mile or so away.  Tim didn’t want to go over and look at him because “What’s so special about a whale?” but he was outvoted.
     The tremendous whale had a companion and we approached close enough to smell them—a potent odor reminiscent, as Tim pointed out, of broccoli. 
     Sometime after two I was below to see the sunburn Kathie said she had when Tim came pounding down, his face flushed with excitement.  Tuna, tuna, millions of tuna!”
     Kathie and I went tearing topside to see the great spectacle, but when we got close to the school, they had turned into porpoises.  “Oh, that’s not fair!” Timmy said.
     But the porpoises put on a marvelous show for us, plunging and leaping beside the boat, turning somersaults in mid-air, often tagging along so near to us that we felt like patting their heads and saying, “Nice porpie.” And not only did dozens of porpoises play tag with us but a couple of whales also mosied over to see what was up.  One got too bold for comfort, causing the children to scatter shrieking to various strongholds, while I fearlessly stood my ground, filming our visitor. Suddenly the creature trumpeted like an elephant about to charge, and I, too, shrieked and grabbed for something to hang on to.
     Today’s Nature Lesson: Whales smell like broccoli,* trumpet like elephants, and are very interesting when they keep their distance.
*They may have been mating, a spectacle we once witnessed off Provincetown--the sea turned milky.
Friday, July 4, 1958, Cohasset to Onset
     Spent the morning at the Yacht Club, watching the swimming races.  Only one child represented the Malley family this year.  Vonnie won two firsts, a second, and a fourth.  No sign of Timmy all morning—We couldn’t figure out what might be keeping him.  (Ray once said when I told him I couldn’t find Timmy anywhere: “Congratulations!”  He was Tim’s Sunday School teacher that year, and well acquainted with his arguing habit.)
     Ted didn’t compete because none of the other fellows would. Too bad, he would have cleaned up.
     Left Cohasset for ports unknown early in the afternoon.  Stopped near Minot’s to watch Ted and Robby skin-diving.  Richard was in the skiff, called to us that the boys had already speared five tautog.  The McKenna family came along in Billy’s Lyman Islander bass boat, and there was our missing lad, sitting next to Karen of the long fair hair and looking pleased with himself.
     As we headed out, we tried to make up our minds where to spend the night.  Provincetown?  Barnstable?  Finally decided on Plymouth, as it was near the Canal and we could get to Onset quickly in the morning for the Predicted Log Race with the Pinkhams. 
     Arrived Plymouth around 4:30, saw the Rock, walked through the town, learned there were going to be fireworks at 9:30.  Returned to Happy Days for cocktails and dinner. 
     Turned on the ship-to-shore radio, which proved to be very busy, because of the holiday.  Heard a couple of human-interest conversations that had me weeping into my dishwater.  Young fellow from the Navy, talking to his girl.  Developed they had been engaged “exactly three weeks tomorrow.” She didn’t care when he was “scheduled” to come home, she wanted him home right now.  “Oh, Jimmy!” she kept sighing.  And “I know what you mean, Jimmy, I get to feeling the same way.” She even told him she’d been over to see his folks the other night, and his dad had brought out the old family album.  Real soap-opera stuff.  Ed and I marveled at the  consistency of human nature and young people in love.
     “Poor kids, they don’t know what they’re getting into,” Ed tsked, which was the most flattering remark of the week.  I observed that it would be lovely if the young people had a recording of the conversation as a keepsake.  In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I was determined to send them the recording with our best wishes for their future happiness.  Ed doubted that these ship-to-shore conversations were on tape because there was no “beep-beep-beep” sound to indicate the fact.  I urged him to find out, so under protest and looking as if he felt very silly, Ed asked to speak to the technical operator.
     “Could you tell me if these ship-to-shore conversations are tape-recorded?” he asked.
     The technical operator replied that Ed didn’t have a thing to worry about, the conversations were positively not recorded.  “The tip-off, sir, is that you don’t hear any beep-beep-beep. Of course, I can overhear the conversations, but I never pay any attention to them."
     Ed said that he hadn’t been concerned so much with privacy as with the possibility of getting a copy of a conversation. “Some of them are pretty interesting.” (It was forbearing of him not to announce that the whole thing was his damfool wife’s idea.)
     The technical operator dropped his formal manner. “They sure are interesting!  Boy, what characters!  I often tell my wife, if I had tape recordings of these characters, I could make a million dollars.”
     Next we heard a little boy with a weepy voice talking to his dad, asking forlornly when he was coming home.  In the next call we heard a lady answer the telephone and become flustered at receiving a call from the Boston Marine Operator. 
      “Can you hear me?” asked the operator. 
      “No, I can’t,” said the lady.
     Another lady couldn’t get it through her head that the person on shore is not supposed to talk at the same time as the person on the boat.  She gave up and handed the phone over to a man, who came on the line and said happily: “Marge doesn’t know how to say `over’ because she’s `under.’” (Laughter in the background.)
     Called home, being careful not to swear within hearing of the technical operator. Kathie said she had just talked to Alden; he was upset because the Race was scheduled for 10:30, not 12:30, as he had thought.  He was afraid Ed and I wouldn’t arrive on time.
     “Let’s go, kid,” said Ed.  “I can’t let old Alden down.”
     So we hauled anchor and set out for Onset.  At 9:30 I looked back toward Plymouth, hoping to see the fireworks, but we were too far away.  At 10:00 we saw a display on the horizon ahead of us.
     Naturally the tide in the Canal was against us.  We reached Onset at 11:30, tired and cold.  I took a brief hot shower.  If I run the water longer than a minute and a half, the Captain carries on as if I were draining his life’s blood. . . .

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