September 30, 1955, to October 11, 1955
Coast Guard Cutter Halfmoon: Fall Patrol
In the fourteen months since his first patrol to Ocean Station Charlie, his entire life had turned about, and this patrol—his second to Ocean Station Charlie—unlike the first, was spent in pushing the days, because now he had someone waiting for him, someone he could not wait to see again. If the days were filled with the cold, hard work of the ship, the nights were filled with warm, hard dreams of Marsha.
“Hit me.” Seaman First Class Stuart Baker brushed his hole card lightly over the Formica table top.
The dealer, Radio Man Third Class Ollie Kittler, turning a card, slammed it alongside Baker’s six and trey cards. “Queen, for nineteen! You’re busted, asshole!”
“The fuck I am!” Turning his hole card, Baker revealed a duece.
“Fuck you!” Kittler slid a nickel across the table.
“Me, too; a little one.”
“Yeah, an’ here’s a little niner for you, Lippy.”
“Too much.” Turning his cards, he slid his nickel to Kittler.
“…died today in a high speed automobile accident on a highway in Southern California.”
“Hey, j’ya hear who the radio just said died today?” Seaman Apprentice Owen Shroyer, holding his card to his chest, looked at the loudspeaker on the upper bulkhead. “Lippy, who’d he say died?”
“Beats me.” Mitchell looked at Baker.
“I wasn’t listening. You hear it, Ollie?”
“Nah. Hey!” Kittler yelled across the compartment. “Any’a you guys hear who the radio said got killed?”
“Ain’t you heard,” one of the swabbies answered, “James Dean. He got croaked in a car accident.”
“Jesus,” Baker said, “I can’t believe it. James Dean, dead.”
Sitting quietly for a moment, “Okay, asshole!” Boatswains Mate Third Class Myron Linton hit the table with his fist, causing the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to jump. “Let’s see a fuckin’ card!”
“You fucker! Ain’t you got no fuckin’ respect?”
“Sure, Ollie, but not when I’m holdin’ what I’m holdin’. Hit me!”
Coming from Newfoundland, the music and news was picked up by the Half moon and piped into the mess and recreation areas.
“Jesus H. fuckin’ Christ!” Linton, going bust on a three-cent bet, slamming his card angrily onto the table, “God-damn nigger music! Is that all they ever play at that fuckin’ station?”
“Hey, prick!” Kittler said. “That ain’t no nigger music.”
“Oh, it ain’t huh! Then just what the fuck is it, then?”
“You dumb asshole! Ain’t you never heard’a Elvis?”
“Elvis?” Linton looked around the table. “What the fuck’s an Elvis?”
October 11, 1955
Pulling the pillow over her head, covering her ears, she still heard the ringing. Opening her eyes, Marsha looked at the clock: 5:53. “My, God!” Remembering, realizing what day it was, and who would be calling this early, running from bed to the kitchen, grabbing the phone, “Yes, operator, I’ll accept the charges… Mitchie! Hi, baby!”
Having the warm, fuzzy quality of a woman who’d just awoken, silent a moment, relishing the sweet sound of her husky, early morning voice, “Marsha, God, you sound so nice! I’d give anything to be with you now, only still in bed.”
“Oh, God, Mitchie, me, too. When’d you pull in? I can’t wait to see you!”
“About 0510, and I came ashore to call soon as we secured from duty stations.” Remembering the hour’s time difference. “Hope it’s okay, my calling this early.”
“Sure it’s okay! I’m glad you called now.”
“God, Marcie, I can’t wait till Friday. You realize I’ll be seeing you in three days! Can you believe it?”
“Can I believe it, huh? ‘Flight 702 departing La Gurdia Airfield, 10/14/55, five-thirty a.m., E.S.T, arriving Midway Airfield 8:45 a.m., C.S.T.’ Mitchie, that’s all I’ve thought about!”
“Marcie,” said in true awe, “we’re going to be married in six days! That’s all I’ve thought about since I saw you in Askanaz in June: holding you, touching you, seeing you, making love to you… Oh, God, real love!”
The line silent a moment, a solemn look crossed Marsha’s face. As the day of this first marriage came closer, Marsha’s thoughts of how she was going to tell him had been on her mind almost constantly. And yet, still not having the words, “Believe me,” she said in absolute truth, “I can’t wait either!”
“Really, Marcie? Really? You can’t?”
‘Yes, really! I’ve told you before; most girls aren’t that much different from guys. We all want the same thing, only girls show it differently.”
Momentarily quiet, recalling that long ago conversation with Frank Rizzo, “Baby, I’ve been thinking; I don’t want to spend our first night together—our only night together—at our parents. Let’s go to a hotel.”
Hesitating, “We’ll talk about it when you get in, okay?”
“Yeah, honey. But it wouldn’t bother me, not one bit, if you were to make a reservation someplace in the name of…” Now he hesitated. “God! I still can’t believe it… Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell Lipensky.”