Sunday, July 23, 2017


Tuesday, August 21, 1962, Falmouth to Oak Bluffs

     The Skipper started up the engines at 6:00 a.m. and set his course for Oak Bluffs.  Windy still, but not too rough.  Tied up at one of the slips adjacent to the main street.  Started alcohol stove, which is behaving worse than ever—one of the burners leaks, and we soon had a bonfire in the galley.  Ed turned off the alcohol supply and it finally died down.  Had to be satisfied with stale coffee cake for breakfast instead of sautéed lamb kidneys on toast.
     Borrowed car from chef at Ocean View, drove to taxi stand and asked if driver was available to take Ed to airport.  “Sure thing, boss,” and off they sped with fifteen minutes to make the 8:00 executive flight.
     It’s fun to be alone for a change, although it’s amazing how friendly people can be when they notice you have a poodle in tow.  Leave the dog at home and you’re invisible again.  Tokay and I walked to the paper store, then headed for the beach.  Halfway there, she sat down and refused to budge—she was that tuckered out.  For every step I take, those little legs have to take five or six, so it doesn’t take long for them to give out. 
     I carried her the rest of the way, and we found a secluded spot on the beach where she could stretch out for a nap and I could read the paper -- but not for long.  A blousy lady with short, wiry blond hair stopped to admire Tokay, and that was the end of our solitude for the next hour.  She told me her old man was no fun at all, he’d taken to his rocking chair, so she and her daughter went out on the town every night.  She invited me to join them sometime.  I was glad when it started to rain and I could gather up my things and make my getaway.

     Sun came out this afternoon.  Put my hair up on rollers, sat on flying bridge and wrote a letter to Kathie.  Ed flew in around five, asked if I’d seen him fly over the harbor.  I said no and asked if he’d seen me sitting on the flying bridge. How could he miss those pink rollers?
     Had cocktails at Ocean View.  Talked to attractive ophthalmologist Dr. Evans, who knows someone who knows Kempy Churchill.  I told him about Kempy spilling his drink on Zza Zza Gabor when she was at a Cohasset party after the Music Circus.  While I was chatting with the doctor, Ed kept saying, “We really ought to have dinner, we shouldn’t keep those poor kids waiting,” but when the doctor left, Ed said, “Let’s have another Martini.”  Had broiled lobster—delicious.  Ed had steak.  Tim Porta is a very good waiter.
Wednesday, August 22, 1962, Oak Bluffs
     Ed took day off.  Announced program before we were even out of bed.  “Brush our teeth, comb our hair, drink our juice, have a swim, then have breakfast.”  I said maybe that was his program, but my program did not include a swim unless the gale winds abated and the temperature rose above 65 degrees.  Tokay and I walked to the paper store, leaving the captain and his solo swim.  Returned to boat and sautéed lamb kidneys while captain thawed out. 
     Made up bunks, did dishes, called home, Vonnie said there was a clambake and dance for young people at the Yacht Club, and Holly White was going.   “It’s her first dance, so she’s all excited.  I’m going to fix her hair for her.”  Kathie wasn’t home from New York yet.  I asked Vonnie to ask Mrs. White if she had any problems, received answer: “Not a problem in the world.”
     At noon we walked down to bicycle shop and rented a couple of bikes.  Tokay fit into my basket, but not willingly.  Tied leash to handlebars to discourage any suicidal leaps.  Cycled to Edgartown, around 7 miles away.  After the first five minutes Tokay stopped quivering and sat up and looked at the scenery.  Ed thought all the pretty girls were leaning out of their cars in order to look at him, but they were really looking at that floppy-eared little head peering over the top of the basket.
    Parked bikes behind Police Station, took a tour around Edgartown.  Stopped at seafood bar next to Yacht Club and had cherrystones on the half shell.  Browsed our way through several shops, Ed and Tokay being very patient.  Bought Japanese fan for Mother.  Headed back to Oak Bluffs at quarter of two.  Return trip was uphill all the way.  My aching legs wished they could be in the basket with Tokay.
     Ed played touch football with the Malley and Porta boys.  Grace told me about a buxom blonde woman who got loaded and carried on noisily in the bar last night.  The Portas do lead an interesting, though not always profitable, life.  Last week a smooth talker took them for $200 worth of bad checks.
     Grace had dinner with us.  I told her Ed thought I was silly to worry about bicycles being stolen while we shopped in Edgartown.
      “Don’t ever leave anything like that untended,” she said.  “There’s a lot of stealing on the island.”

     “You see?” I said to Ed.  “I knew you were crazy to leave that bike in front of the boat.”     
     “I would have replaced it if anyone had taken it,” he said.
     “You’d have replaced it!  What kind of attitude is that?  Why be so careless in the first place?”
     “Shh, Maw,” said Timmy, who was waiting on us.  “Everybody’s looking at you.”       
     So I shh-ed, but on the walk back to the boat I said I didn’t see much point in my trying to save his money if he was so willing to throw it around.
     “Where’s Tokay?” he said.
     “She’s back there somewhere. I just don’t understand how you can be so completely unconcerned about where your money goes.  Your parents didn’t bring you up that way.”
     “Shut up and look for your dog,” he said.
     “Why should I? If she’s lost you can always replace her.”  I continued on my way to the boat, real mad, while the Big Spender went back to look for Tokay. 
     “You know where she was?” he said, when he came aboard with Tokay at his heels.  “Teddy had her.”
     I didn’t answer, being still real mad.  Later, when I stopped being mad I said something to him and he didn’t answer.  That made me mad again.  The only one who went to bed not mad was Tokay.  [Now that I’m 90, I never have a bad time of the month.  Poor Ed!]
Thursday, August 23, 1962, Oak Bluffs
     Ed was up at six a.m.  Kissed me goodbye, sort of, by kissing his fingers and touching them to my cheek. Very antiseptic. Have decided not to be mad any more so I can start getting the other kind of kisses.  He took bike to airport, flew his little plane to Boston.  I made myself a bacon & egg sandwich for breakfast.  Did dishes, laundered a few things, made up bunks.  Took Tokay for a walk, called house.  Kathie not home from New York yet.  Wish she’d get home before Vonnie gives Mrs. White any more gray hairs.  .
     Tokay and I took shuttle to Vineyard Haven.  Bought shoes.  Returned to Oak Bluffs and went to beach.  Too cool and windy to swim.  Called Ed.  He said Kathie was home now and things seemed to be under control.
       Ed arrived by plane and bike around 6:00.  Said he’d had a hard, busy day.  Very lame as a result of yesterday’s 14-mile bike ride, followed by touch football.  Announced he had to go to Boston again tomorrow. 
     “Then you want me to meet the Brewers at the ferry?” I asked.  Oh, he’d forgotten about the Brewers.  Well, he’d try to work it out so that he wouldn’t have to leave.
     At dinner Ed changed his mind again and said he was going to fly to Boston in the morning.
     “But I thought you said you didn’t really have to,” I said.  ‘I wish you’d make a decision and stick to it so I’d know where I’m at.  What was the point of urging the Brewers to come early if you’re not going to be here?”

     Timmy, the Obtrusive Waiter, asked querulously, “Why is it whenever I wait on you two, you’re always arguing!”
     “We’re not arguing, we’re just discussing something,” I said.
     “The way you discuss things makes me think you’re ready to get a divorce.”
     “We’ll let you know when we are,” I said.
     After a little more discussion, Ed decided that the office could get along without him tomorrow.   “Good,” I said.  “Now go out to the kitchen and reassure Timmy.  Tell him we’re not going to get a divorce.”
     Watched television with Porta boys and Tim.  Sacked in at 10:00.
Friday, August 24, 1962, Oak Bluffs
     Brewers not due until 10:30, so Ed asked me if I’d like to go flying with him for an hour. 
     "Why not?" I said.  I could think of a dozen reasons why not, none of them marriage buttressing.
     Ed borrowed the Portas’ Opal and we headed for the Oak Bluffs Airport. 
     My confidence in my husband's new hobby, already a little flimsy, disintegrated altogether when he couldn’t find the airport.  “Do we turn here?” he muttered at the Lobster Hatchery sign.  “No, I guess it’s the next right.”  The next right was a dead end. Captain Malley swore as he turned the car around and said he couldn’t understand why he always had so much trouble finding this airport.  I didn’t say a word, but I was thinking in a Jack Bennynish accent: “If he can’t find it from the ground . . .
     We went back to the Lobster Hatchery sign and turned left.  The street led to another dead end at the lobster hatchery.  “I guess I’d better go in and ask how to get to the airport,” Ed said.  “While we’re there we might as well look around.”
     If we looked around long enough, I thought hopefully, maybe a couple of hours would whiz by and we’d have to rush back and pick up the Brewers.

     But a sign posted in the hatching room said: “Hatching season over.  Come back next year.”  All the tanks were empty except for one which contained some grand-daddy lobsters as big as dragons and a smaller tank with a few stray baby lobsters the size of mosquitoes.  I read all the posters describing the hatching process and said, “My, isn’t this fascinating!” but I finally had to stop stalling and go back to the car with Ed.
     “Good for you, I knew you could do it!” I said when Great White Eagle, as he now calls himself, eventually located the airport. 
     Oak Bluffs Airport looked like a reclaimed cow pasture with no runways that I could see. Ed checked the Tri Pacer's propeller, gas tank, and other essentials; then we climbed in and fastened our seat belts.  As he taxied down to the end of the pasture, and I said, “That looks easy,  I could do that.”  All at once his hands and feet were pulling levers and pushing pedals and we were roaring toward a grove of trees at ninety miles an hour and I changed my mind.  We flew over to Nantucket, where Great White Eagle decided to land, “just for practice.”  A voice on the radio told him which runway to use, and he started his approach. 
     “First time I’ve ever made a right-hand pattern,” he remarked.  I said I wished he wouldn’t tell me these things. 
     “Nothing to it,” he said, keeling the horizon over on its side and slowing the engine almost to a stall.  We landed safely and since it seemed silly to fly all the way to Nantucket without doing something, I went to the ladies' room.   Ten minutes later we were ready to take off again.
     "Five zero zulu," Ed radioed the tower as he taxied toward the runways.  "Do I make a left turn here?"
     "I'm not too proud to ask," Ed explained to me.  "Gave everybody heart attacks."
     Flew back to Oak Bluffs.  Ed didn’t like his first approach, so he circled around again.  I looked up from a letter I was writing to Kathie and saw the horizon sliding downhill into the ocean, got airsick, closed my eyes until we landed with a rather hard bump.  Thus ended my flight as the first passenger of Great White Eagle.
     We stopped at the Ocean View and asked Gene if he could spare the car long enough for us to pick up the Brewers.  I saw Tim coming down the front steps and asked him if he’d go in and get me an envelope for my letter to Kathie.  Heaving a big sigh, he rolled his eyes and turned back.  Gene smote his forehead and said: “Oh, why did you ask him to do that!”
     Drove over to the dock where passengers were disembarking from the Vineyard Queen.  There was Old Sal, fresh off the pickle boat, wearing a straw bonnet and calling gaily, “Hi, Uncle Eddie!”  And there was old Whitey, looking as if he’d been eating one of the pickles, plodding along behind her with the luggage.

     Spent the afternoon at the Beach Club.  Had hotdogs and hamburgers.  True to form, Ed said he didn’t want anything—no, not even a half, thank you—then said reproachfully as I finished my hotdog and swigged the last of the chocolate milk, “I see you didn’t save me even one bite.”
     Sal caught me up on the current gossip from home.  Ed had many disparaging comments to make about our wagging tongues, but I didn’t see him stuffing cotton in his ears.  The Sears pool party was great fun, Sal said.  Jim Stannard dragged Ginny Hunt into the pool with him—both fully dressed—which infuriated Al because of his wife’s temporary female indisposition.  He punched Jim and knocked him flat.  The late, late crowd went on to the Rogerses for spaghetti.  Elsa became irked at the amount of time Russ was spending with Daisy’s house guest from Wellesley.  Stories differ on what ensued: some say she went behind the bar, opened a brand new bottle of whiskey, and poured it on her rival’s head; others say she dumped a pitcher of water over Russ.  Oh, Cohasset, how I love you from afar!
     Sal’s most amusing anecdote concerned the night Russ came home from the Club after playing tennis under the lights and not having had any dinner, went to the refrigerator to look for something to eat.  He took out a covered dish that appeared to contain leftover meat loaf.  The next morning he learned he had dined on leftover dog food.
     Ed asked Whitey if he’d like to go for a plane ride and couldn’t believe it when Whitey said, “Sure.”  Of all our friends, he’s the last one we would have thought willing to go up with an amateur.  Not that he didn’t require a little liquid Nerve Fortifier before he left.  Sal and I went topside and waved when the boys flew over the harbor.

     After they returned, we dressed for dinner and walked to the Ocean View.  Heard about Ted’s 15 swordfish, a record in these lean years.  White Eagle Junior heap good swordfish-spotter. 
     Had cordials in lounge.  Whitey went back to the boat ahead of us, having offered to take Tokay for a walk.  Ten minutes later a stranger walked in and held a black floppy-eared object aloft.  “Does this belong to anyone here?”
     “She’s mine.” I said.  “What did you do with the man who was with her?”
     “No one was with her,” he said.  “She was sitting on the doorstep, crying to get in.”
     I thanked the man for returning our pet.  Then we all trouped back to the boat and tried to scare Whitey by pretending we thought she was still with him.  Tokay spoiled our game by hopping into the cockpit instead of “staying,” as I had ordered.  Whitey said she had followed him back to the boat as nicely as could be. “Didn’t strain on the leash or anything,” he said, stirring his Old-Fashioned and looking puzzled.  “I put her down on the couch, patted her on the head and told her she was a good dog, then went below to mix a drink.  Suddenly I heard a pattering noise and a sort of plop.  I rushed up to the deckhouse, but Tokay had disappeared.  I leaned over the side to see if there were any rings getting wider and wider, but the water was as smooth as glass.”
     Clearly, the little acrobat, too well coached by us, was determined to be with us instead of this unknown poodle-sitter.  She therefore made her precarious way to the bow of the boat, leapt from there to the sidewalk, and succeeded in finding her way to the Ocean View’s front entrance.  How lucky we were that she didn’t get stolen or hit by a car.

Saturday, August 25, 1962, Oak Bluffs to Bass River
     Had a 7:00 a.m. breakfast date with the Brewers, who slept at the Ocean View last night.  Ed and I walked into the dining room an hour and a half late, learned Sally and Whitey weren’t up yet.  I knocked on their door and a voice I tentatively identified as Sally’s croaked,  
     “What time is it?”  
     “We’ll be down in a minute.”
      Yes, that was Sally all right.  Figuring a Sally-type minute would give us half an hour to do some chores, we borrowed Portas’ car, drove to the village for ice, stored same in ice box, filled water tanks, took Tokay for a walk.
     Returning to the Ocean View, we found the Brewers sitting at our table, having a cup of coffee.  Tim seated us and finished setting the table, then bent down to pet Tokay.
     “Come on, come on,” Ed said.  “Never mind fooling with the dog, take our order.”
     The people at the next table choked on their pineapple muffins, not realizing Tim was our thick-skinned son, not a thin-skinned waiter unaccustomed to this sort of needling.   Then Tim brought our first course but forgot to fill the coffee cups, and Eddie’s sarcastic comments on the quality of the service had our appalled neighbors ready to call the S.P.C.C.
     “Hey, waiter, how about another cup of coffee for the fourth time,” Sal demanded, as Tim served the bacon and eggs.
     “I wonder how this egg would look on your face,” our waiter rejoined.
     The couple at the next table got up and left.

     At 9:45 we headed for Bass River, arriving at 12:30.  Fastened to the bell at the entrance of the river was a red Harvard reunion cap.  Jane and Ben Wild came out in their skiff, welcomed us warmly, and showed us where to anchor.  We had a swim, then organized a tennis match.  Ed couldn’t play because of his bad (touch football) knee; decided to remain on board and study his flying lore. 
     Sally thought I was exceedingly clever to be able to run the outboard.  After we pulled the boat up on the shore, I tipped the motor on its side, having noticed that was the way Ben left it.  I didn’t know you were also supposed to close the valve on top to keep the gas from running out.  Ben quietly closed the valve, then said as he caught up with us, “By the way, Barbara, if it should be your lot to run the outboard next time, you’ll have to open the valve on top.”  Not, “Hey, jerk, next time close that valve so the gasoline won’t leak out.”  A tactful gentleman.
     Jane insisted on grilling hotdogs in spite of our assurances that we’d had a late breakfast and weren’t hungry.  As soon as the weiners began to sizzle, we realized we were starved.  I went back after Ed and told him what he was missing.  He said he hadn’t been studying anyway because he couldn’t find his glasses.  He came ashore, had a hot dog, then returned to the Happy Days with Tokay.  The rest of us drove to the tennis court.  Ben and Sal played Whitey and me while Jane watched.  We quit at 7-all.
     Had cocktails on boat, went to Riverview Restaurant for dinner.  Hostess said our table wasn’t ready yet, asked us to wait in cocktail lounge.  It was a long, dry wait.  After ages and ages a young lady took our cocktail order.  Waited and waited some more, but we might as well have been in the middle of the Sahara.  Finally Jane flagged onto another young lady and said, “Would you please see what’s holding up our drinks?”   
     “I’d love to, but I don’t work here.”
     At last the highballs arrived, but now our table was ready for us.  Ed was pacing himself by drinking ginger ale on the first round. [Amazing.  That’s what flying did for my Party Animal husband. October, 2000] Ben kept ordering “another round of the same,” and before we knew it, three ginger ales were lined up in front of Ed.  Jane shared her Martinis with him.  Just as we were finishing dinner, a bottle of wine and a fourth round of drinks made their appearance.       
     Back at the Wilds, Sal and I were trying to show Whitey how to do the Twist when young Leslie Wild and five teenage boys came in.  One of the boys entertained us by demonstrating another popular dance craze, The Slop.
     At 12:30 Jane went to bed and Ben took us out to the boat.  Ed and Sally folded.  I listened to Whitey and Ben talk about Harvard for awhile, then retired.

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