Thursday, July 24, 2014


Acknowledgements: Some of the episodes in this memoir appeared earlier in magazine articles and in Take My Ex-Husband, Please, Little, Brown, 1991.

May 17, 2014
Linden Ponds
Hingham, Massachusetts
     Being of sound mind, I plan one day to re-schedule this message for publication the morning after I go to sleep forever. The reasons I will be making my exit?  At ninety-two (or older, as the case may be), I cannot and will not face a future in a nursing home, slumped over in a wheelchair like all the other old ladies, a painful object for my children to visit dutifully. My mobility is fair currently, but I need a walker for trips outside my Linden Ponds apartment.
     Friends I will want to bid goodbye and good luck:  my patient duplicate bridge partners Diane G., Shirley G., Marcia V., and new partner at Linden Ponds, “Sy” E.
     Then there's Margo Bendery, our Vonnie's favorite childhood pal.  When she was grown, she tried to re-connect with Vonnie, only to learn from Kathie that she had died in an automobile accident. Since then, Margo has become a close ally and the artist for Kathie's blog. We never knew she had this talent.  Her e-mails are filled with the whimsy and charm of a first-class writer.
     Years ago, enchanted by my mother's poems, Margo searched her name and found another blogger. As a child, Paige had read The Laughing Willow in a children's magazine, saved it through the years, and wondered if she could publish it.  I happily authorized her to do so; since then dozens of Ernestine’s fanciful verses have appeared in
     Never to be forgotten is friend Naomi McBride. She took excellent care of our Florida condominium, promises in her letters that God will take care of me, and thanks me a million and a million times for the small monthly stipend she receives in her retirement.
     I will be sending a loving goodbye to beautiful-inside-and-out Margie Wollam, a kind supporter of my blog and my idea of a perfect woman.  Also a perfect woman is my niece Linda, who years ago did me the honor of asking me to be her Other Mother. I couldn't ask for a dearer Other Daughter.
     Grammarians say you can't use the term "most perfect," but that's what my darling Kathie is, living her life in a wheelchair to the fullest but never too busy to call her mother every blessed night at 7:00 PM.  Visitors to my blog from the U S and abroad (over 87,000 according to the latest statistics), please do yourselves a favor and stop by Kathie's brilliant  (If you copy this URL into your browser, it will take you to her site.)
     I once said to her devoted husband Frank, "What would we do without you?"  His response? "What would I do without Kathie?"  She found the right man for her second husband at Parents Without Partners when she bravely attended a party in her wheel-chair.
     Many thanks and much love will go to older son Ted, who has always been there for me whenever I needed help of any kind.  He is approaching seventy-two; I hope he and I will both live to see his riveting article, "Men in Danger," published in National Fisherman (accepted in October of 2012).
     To my desperately appreciated younger son I will say, as Frank said concerning Kathie, "What would I do without you?" Again and again Tim has extricated me when something went wrong with my computer. Even when he went out on a limb and started his own company, Boston Sword and Tuna, he found time to keep me in the blogging business.  Dramaturgist Michael Mitchell not only helped Kathie and me with "Saving the Old Buzzard" but also echoed Tim's suggestion:  "Did you ever think of starting a blog?”
    Excerpt from an e-mail to Michael after I launched Tears and Laughter at 90:    
    Sometimes an idea for what to publish next is triggered by something I’m working on, such as Moppet not behaving the least bit fearfully on our flight back to Boston after Kathie’s stay in Arizona's Williams Hospital.  This reminded me that our pet was very nervous indeed about flying after she was flung out of our plane when it crashed at Oak Bluff’s Airport.  Did I ever send you A Wrecked Plane and a Missing Poodle?  I got a kick out of seeing Moppet’s hangdog slouch, as the pilot was doing a pre-flight check. Clearly she was saying to her mistress, “Is this flight necessary?”
     Which seems like a fitting question for this post. Yes, unless Fate intervenes with other plans, I believe I'll take this necessary flight when the time comes.
     My heartfelt love to my precious children, grandchildren, and great-grand-children, today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter. . . .  

A beauty beyond all believing
Has startled my eyes:
The sight of a falling star cleaving
The slumbering skies.

A flash!  Then the heavens absorb it.
I sigh in the night,
And think of my life's fettered orbit --
And the wonder of flight!
                                 by Ernestine Cobern Beyer

May 17, 2013
From Kathie
     Oh dear.  It does worry me to think of you thinking about this issue, but I remind myself that you are a writer and that you want to write about everything that is important to you.  I finished A Man of Parts last night and author H. G. Wells also needed to just keep writing as he faced into the future as an aging man with declining health.  
     I also understand well that urge not to be a burden to anyone; I worry about such things myself.
     I do hope for both of us that our exits are way off in the future and that we will be adequately healthy and mobile till then.


     As decades passed, why did I report events in my life in such copious detail? Articles published in boating and flying magazines owed their existence to this habit of recording experiences as they occurred. Without these chronicles I would doubtless recall a boat sinking and two airplane accidents, but their details would have faded.
     I learned that misadventures provided the most satisfactory source for hopefully humorous letters to my mother and daughter.  The more things turned sour, the more I felt challenged to make maple sugar.  Except for tragedies, like losing Vonnie and Kathie's accident, calamities came with a saving grace. After I rallied from the latest shock, I'd reach for my therapeutic pencil and let it do its thing.  Invariably my distress would dissipate and a bad day would end on an upbeat note.   
                                              AFLOAT AND ASHORE
     It was difficult to find applicants during those war years, but in 1945 my ad offering a salary plus room and board for a mother and daughter proved to be an ideal arrangement for Esther and me. Thirteen-year-old Jacquie helped her mother with chores after school and as she grew older, was a tremendous aid at the large dinner parties I had to have if I wanted to stay in the social circuit. 
     Actually I didn’t want to, but Ed did and in the Forties, a husband’s preferences were what counted.  As a poor Irish boy whose father and uncles had emigrated from Ireland, he never had a prayer of being invited to girls’ birthday parties or dances at the Newton Center Women's Club. The rejection still rankled.  An impecunious suitor turned upper-middle‑ class provider, he had a desire for the good things in life, the ambition to work for them, the optimism to buy them on the installment plan, and the faith that somehow bills would eventually get paid.  And somehow, they eventually were.
      Our beach front home was the perfect place for Ed to indulge his fondness for boats. First came the rowboat our children clambered happily in and out of, too little to understand it was more than a beach toy for their specific entertainment.                                                                   
     On weekends the beach toy became transportation to our second boat, a 17-foot fiberglass skiff anchored beyond Big-Big. Here Ed and I spent many a Sunday morning, placidly reading the papers and unwittingly creating an annoying detour for the Cohasset Yacht Club’s 110 and 210 sailboat races.             
     Papers read, Ed would row ashore in the beach toy and collect our two youngest for a boat ride. Not always the most observant of men, he once picked up our towheaded little neighbor, Mimi Dean, carrying her across the beach, and settling her in the rowboat. She murmured nary a complaint.
     “Mr. Malley,” Esther called from the beach chair where she was keeping an eye on Vonnie and Timmy. “That is not your daughter.” The mix-up was thereupon remedied, to everyone’s satisfaction except the disappointed towhead’s.
     Like the cove’s rock formations, our four youngsters acquired distinguishing nicknames: the Big Kids and the Little Kids. With the Big Kids (Kathie and Teddy), we often went fishing, using hand lines and hooks baited with clams or periwinkles, industriously unearthed on the beach and stored in sand pails. Did we catch any fish? Not that I recall. As with a Christmas present, it was the spirit, not the fish, that counted.
     The Little Kids, Vonnie and Timmy, were treated to a trip to Minot’s Light, their father circling around it while they gazed with round eyes at the longest ladder they had ever seen. When they became bigger kids, they liked nothing better than a rowboat ride to Brush Island, situated a few hundred yards northeast of Sandy Cove. Once, on the way back to the cove, Timmy insisted on dragging a line with a bare hook. Then he insisted he had caught a fish. We laughed indulgently until he pulled the line aboard, its hook attached to the backbone of the fish he had indeed caught. His parents were impressed, his sister jealous, and Timmy won the first of many arguments he would have throughout the years with his parents, grandparents (The Great Target Debate), siblings, teachers, school principals, and friends. 
     Our next boat was a 32-foot cabin cruiser. It was built in 1949 in Ed’s small manufacturing plant (located on the third floor of his father’s trucking garage) by several of his craftsmen in their spare time and a half.their spare time and a half.   

    There was nothing wrong with her structure except for one teensy flaw that caused her to sink the following season.  It was lovely mid-September weather, but a bit choppy, the day our cruiser began taking in water a mile and a half northeast of the Boston Lightship. My friend 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. (Later we learned there was a faulty fitting in the exhaust line.) 
     “Must be a leak somewhere,” said Marion.
     “Looks like it.  How about another beer?”
     I went below and found myself in water up to my ankles. “Hey, Ed,” I called. “There’s a 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 into a makeshift raft. Then we huddled together on the flying bridge, awaiting our fate.
     We sighted a sail leisurely dipping along the horizon. It looked for a while as if its skipper was going to continue on without seeing our predicament and we were feeling pretty glum. Then suddenly, it came about and headed 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 said--the greatest understatement 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 board, 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 a beach near the yacht club. With the assistance of his insurance company, she was eventually restored to her former almost seaworthy condition.             
      For the next three years after the sinking, the cruiser behaved herself, but her captain did not. He had an uncanny predilection for accidentaly going overboard.  If we were in shark territory, this was not a great thing to do. Sharks could be caught on rod and reel or speared with a harpoon attached to an abundance of line wrapped around a barrel. One day Ed had just connected with a whopper and I was dutifully recording the event with the camera when he got fouled up in the line and went flying.  Unfortunately for posterity, I failed to continue focusing on the event, and there followed a memorable sequence of the side of the boat. 
     I was caught without a camera on another occasion when we were trying to tie up to the pier in Provincetown. I was at the topside controls while Ed was forward with a line ready to toss over one of the posts rising above our heads.
     “You’re going too fast, put her in neutral!”
     Hastily I obeyed, but our momentum was carrying us past his goal.
    "Reverse, reverse!" he shouted, as he dropped the line over the post.
    I shoved the "Barbara" in reverse.  The throttle was still pushed up, so we shot backwards.  The result was curious.  Ed had neglected to secure the other end of his line to a cleat.  As the boat leapt from under him, he made a wild grab for the line and before I could say, "What on earth are you doing, dear?" he was hanging from the Provincetown pier.  I eventually retrieved him, getting paid for my trouble with a dour, "What's so funny?" 
                                              DARRELL McCLURE
Summer 1953
       Hubert Kent was a purchasing agent for the Ford Motor Company, whom Ed had met on a business trip.  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 he’d invited Mr. Kent on a shark‑fishing trip.
      "Is this likely to get you a Ford contract?" I asked.
       "Shh," hissed Ed, cringing 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?
       "Um‑hum," 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.  "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."

     On a summer evening in 1954, 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 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 quit outside of Scituate Harbor.  Ed worked over it until the sun went down and it grew cold.  He always considered it a personal affront when anything went wrong with his boat, and rescue by the Coast Guard was 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‑‑"
     "Pictures!" I thought, 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 pin a medal on his chest if they had one handy.   For the next two weeks Ed swaggered.    
November 19, 1954 
     If a flying saucer were to land in Sandy Cove tomorrow, swarming with fierce little outer-space beings, I wouldn’t twitch an eyelash. They couldn’t possibly be as fantastic, fiendish, and fearsome as the dozen demons three and a half feet high who invaded our home yesterday.
     The occasion was Timmy’s eighth birthday. At noon I drove down to school to pick up his guests—five girls and seven boys, leaving out Timmy. Unfortunately, we couldn’t leave out Timmy. When I opened the classroom door, he asked the teacher if he could make an announcement.
     “Will all the children who are coming to my party please line up behind my mother,” he said, blushing.
     I was blushing, too, partly because of the novel experience of being lined up behind, partly because of the glum expressions shared by the twenty uninvited.  Diana Remick looked the glummest.
     “Timmy,” I whispered, as he came to the head of the line, “didn’t you invite Diana?”
     “No,” he said, looking surprised. “I hate her.”
     “Shh! Well, you’ve got to invite her. You went to her party—“
     “—and she kicked me, remember?”
     “—and besides, her mother is one of my best friends, I said firmly, beckoning Diana.
     “When we get home, call your mother and tell her to bring my present,” Timmy ordered.
     After five minutes of Diana, I was ready to call Dottie and tell her never mind the present, just come and get her daughter. Timmy is an excellent judge of character. She wanted to open all his presents. She called him selfish because he wouldn’t let her play with them the minute the wrappings were off. When I tried to take pictures of Timmy opening his gifts, she kept jumping in front of the camera.
     The party was scarcely under way when I heard sobs, and there stood Diana, tugging at my skirt.
     “Mrs. Malley,” she wept, “Timmy knocked me down!”
     “Timmy, did you knock Diana down?”
     “She grabbed my new football and wouldn’t give it back.”
     “Oh,” I said. “Well . . . that’s too bad, Diana. Timmy, you shouldn’t knock your guests down no matter what they do.”
     Diana, great tears still brimming in her eyes, tugged at me again. “Could I call my mother, Mrs. Malley? I want her to come and get me.”
     So do I, I thought. But I managed to sidetrack her by bringing on the ice-cream and cake.
    After the children had tired of throwing the refreshments around the playroom, we played Truth or Consequences. That is, I played Truth or Consequences with one little monster at a time. Those who were not “it” relieved their boredom by racing through the house, screaming as if it were on fire. Timmy, I must admit, was the ringleader. After I sent him to his room, the uproar was only half as bad.
     When the party was over at last, I said, Never Again. The phrase rang a bell, and I wondered where I had heard it before. Could it have been on the eighteenth of November 1953?
April 30, 1955
Fort Lauderdale
    After I contacted Darrell McClure, there was a lot of speculation among us as to what he looked like.  Every time I saw a tall lanky man with a mustache and not much chin, I would nudge the kids and say, “There he is!”  Surely he would resemble his cartoon character, Cautious Conrad.  At a restaurant, Kathie put a penny in the “Ask the Swami” machine and asked, “Will Darrell McClure look the way we think he’s going to?”  The cagey answer: “You’ll know in a few days.”
     So in a few days it was six p.m. and Darrell was due to arrive any minute.  Kathie had just washed her hair, and I was putting it up with what seemed to me commendable calm. 
     “Down girl, easy girl!” Kathie said.  “What are you so excited about, anyway?  He’s just a man.”
“Excited?  Who’s excited?”
     I could hear Ed introducing himself in the living room.  Taking a deep breath, I swept in, holding out both hands.
     “Darrell’s over there,” Ed said. 
     “Oh—Darrell?” I said, turning to a tall, fine-looking gentleman with a mustache and more chin than I’d hoped for in my wildest dreams.            
     “No!  Can this be Barbara?   You’re everything I expected !”
     Ed sat down and picked up a magazine.  According to Teddy, who was watching this historic meeting with his mouth open, I coyly wiggled my fanny and said in a simpering falsetto – if you can believe Teddy, “Oh thank you, Darrell, you’re so kind!”
     When we went out for dinner, Darrell devoted himself exclusively to me.  I tried, I truly did, to bring Ed into the conversation, but he was busy devoting himself exclusively to too many martinis.  We’re all going fishing tomorrow . . .             
August 6, 1955, Cohasset to Gloucester and back
      Left Cohasset 10:45 with Alden and Florence Pinkham, Kathie and her friend Debbie Rohde. As usual, it was flat out all week, but come the weekend, the ocean had turned chunky;  we must all take a Dramamine unless we enjoy being seasick.
     Arrived Gloucester 1:30. 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 Kathie and Debbie with a side of boned chicken, which soon became chicken-of-the-sea because they didn’t like that icky jelly stuff.
     Arrived Scituate Harbor 5:45. Dropped the girls off and gave them taxi money so they could go exploring.  Florence’s son Warren and daughter-in-law Vi joined us 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,
     “That’s why I like two engines,” said our captain.. 
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 the forecast's gentle and variable breezes.
     Remembering last summer’s ashy-pale young faces, I made the gang line up for Dramamine. There were familiar cries of, “Oh, I never get seasick!” but the first mate 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 of trawler fish with a dip net--not the kind you’d want in your chowder or even  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 carpeted with their 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, our Cocker Spaniel, 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 other early birds—Cohasset’s lobster fleet.
     The old myth about school tuna in Provincetown has been circulating again, so we set out with our customary high hopes and zero expectations, 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 an hour and a half 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 a 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 sense 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 trusty naked eye. About the same time we saw a tremendous aircraft carrier steaming along, apparently from the port of Cohasset, which seemed highly unlikely. I won’t believe we’re really found until I see Minot’s Light dead ahead.
     Saw 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 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 said he heard a phone ringing and  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 line 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 his Important Business Contact 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 impossible to get fresh fish of any kind in Detroit. Once she planned to have boiled salmon on the 4th of July, and  the clerk pointed to the market’s canned goods section.
     “But I want fresh salmon,” she said.       
     “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 that they accepted without resistance. They dumped an entire pail-full of fish into our net--including a couple of fine haddock, all cleaned and ready for the pot.
     This was not a lucky day unless you consider it from the sharks’ point of view. We did see 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.”
August 27, 1955, Provincetown
     The Provincetown jinx is thwarting us again. Woke up to find rain beating down after the weatherman had promised 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 is too vulgar to report to the Log.

     Had sausage, beans, applesauce, and coffee cake having agreed to breakfast 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. The first one, retrieved from a penciled draft, was written last fall:  
October 11, 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 reads 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:
     What Captain Malley really needs for Christmas is a gift certificate to a psychiatrist’s office.
He is a rabid perfectionist about everything pertaining to our Matthews, but when it comes to extracting a few dollars for household repairs,  I might as well ask him for one of his eyes.
     Consider the matter of the bathroom linoleum, stained and faded and so cracked the rugs had humps in them.
     "New linoleum!" sobbed my husband.  "I bought you new linoleum 10 years ago!"
      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 hurt.  "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 was shocked.  "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 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 was resplendent in black marbleized linoleum.
     According to Ed, most of his extravagances (he calls them "investments") have been in the interest of safety.  Inclined to be safety‑conscious since our first boat sank under us, he is determined to be prepared for any contingency except bankruptcy.  Since we have been unable to find anyone with enough derring‑do to buy what's left of the sunken craft, we are the  only folks in town who own, not one, but two boats we can't afford.  Without blinking an eyelash Ed will dash off checks for such things as a ship‑to‑shore telephone, built‑in CO2 system,  or automatic pilot. But mention a new lampshade or shoes for the kiddies and he clutches his heart, or his wallet.
     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 Darrell
     Yes, lady, I'll draw up a sketch for you and tear up your check. Your letter is sufficient payment.  I'm sending it to the brains at Yachting to see if it can be used as material in some fashion. 

                              DARRELL McCLURE
     Finally, glassy-eyed, I finish my latest letter to Darrell 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. Went ashore, hired bicycles, cycled to tennis courts to see how wet they were and made a reservation for tomorrow.
     Back to the Happy Days for a nap, a swim to wake us up, a cocktail.
     Gene Krupa was at the Atlantic House—a 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 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 out who was out of sync.”
     “Well, anyway you’re a good navigator. How did you learn so much about navigation?”
     “My Bible told me so,” said Ed.
March 25, 1955    
     Minxi is in an interesting condition‑‑at least all the dogs from here to Quincy seem to think so. I got home from the market to find seven of them in the house. They were leaping and slithering after Minxi, my ladylike mother was lunging after the dogs, and the children were bringing up the rear with shouts of glee or distress, depending on how they looked at it.  Vaughan did her best to help by standing at the front door and saying Shoo!August 27, 1955 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 were off the handle, held in my the wind, helped over by the wind, etc.
August 27, 1955  
     Talked Ed into buying me some Lasanga for lunch at the Town House.  Have always wanted to try it; between us we finished one order.  Decided we'd better scoot for home since small craft warnngs were up. Left at 2:00.  Extremely rough and windy, waves breaking over the flying bridge and us.  Steady sail helped prevent rolling. 
September 2, 1956 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's great about the Marshes; they're so enthusiastic about cruising.  We left Cohasset at 2:10 p.m., two hours behind schedule.  (The Big Boston Typhoon had to catch up on things at the office after a two-day trip to Detroit.)  Our ultimate destination was 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 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.

August 28, 1955    
     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 for the Log. One 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 overboard 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 this. 
     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 pay a visit, chiefly because of Ed’s description of the cherrystones you can slurp up 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 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 coming our way. 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 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.
     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 it was so rough and windy, we had 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. Meanwhile the grandparents bought kites for the children, and we spent the rest of the afternoon trying to launch them from Grandpa and Tina’s yard overlooking Pleasant Bay. Vonnie’s was the first to stay aloft, but Timmy’s had a tendency to Kamikaze north, south, east and west. By the time Ed got the right amount of bow and length of string, Tim and Vonnie had wandered 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 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. Leaving them on the dock, Ed and I chugged away from them but hadn’t gone far when I decided I’d just as soon stay 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.  A young man looked 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, suddenly remembering the newspaper account of an escaped maniac pushing a girl off a cliff, and began edging away from him. He grabbed my arm and mumbled something about going someplace where it was warm. Then the young man’s friend came along, took his arm, and departed, 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 during a visit: “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. “All the old ladies I know are cuckoo!” Then she looked at Tina patted her hand, and 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 loudly. 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 Eddie. “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. 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
     Ed clobbered me at tennis again this morning. Then we read the Sunday papers with Grandpa and Tina while the children collected a cricket, 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 this 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 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.