Sunday, September 22, 2013


    The fleet frigate now robbed of mobility and with a gaping hole in its outer skin perched high and dry in the only still-used dry-dock in a disused shipyard in South Boston. The metallic banging of a door on a discarded locker was played by a hot off-shore wind as un-orchestrated percussion in an otherwise quiet symphony of tide testing the dock’s gate and the distant rumble of an MTA subway headed for Dorchester and the fringe suburbs of the capital city.

    A short walk brought the young sailor to the street for an uptown visit to the Boston Common and adjacent Public Garden. Dogs patiently walked their captives and the swan boats meandered lazily around the Duck pond on a clear summer day.

    This virgin sailor had yet to taste the wonder and terror of the sea and the bitter taste of unrequited love. New to life away from small town roots, this new world of strange city and enticing girls was a mélange of curiosity, awe and trepidation.

    Not yet of an age to enjoy adult beverages but wishing a break from exploring this new world, a coffee shop was the choice so back to Tremont street to search for refreshment. The Copper Kettle was less than a block from the notorious Washington street area known as the 'Battle Zone' where of-age sailors plied themselves with alcohols of one form or another as they mingled with B-girls, hookers and other 'strip' personae.

    Ordering a chocolate shake (shades of Radar O'Reilly's grape Ne-Hi) the young Navy man was disappointed to find that in this new world, a chocolate shake was nothing more than syrup stirred into a glass of milk. His waitress, Margie, was about to begin a small epiphany for this far-from-home sailor in a strange place.

    Margie, quite likely Irish, was a delight for this newbie to the real world. She patiently schooled the young tar that a milk shake was called a 'frappe' and coffee with cream and sugar was a coffee regular (pronounced reg-uh-lah) and she seemed as taken with this handsome young man as he with her.

    Though probably the same age, this young lass mesmerized him with her worldly-wise manner and confidence. That she was also pert, perky and pretty added to the fetching aura. Waiting for her shift to end he was delighted when she allowed him to escort her home to Cambridge, a too-short ride away on the Lechmere car.
    They chatted comfortably while walking the short distance from the car stop to her home. He learned her last name. Their lingering shared glances led to the inevitable embrace and good night kiss. The sweet kiss was soon over but not before being punctuated with a most unexpected and never-before-experienced love nip on his lip. It was the end of an exciting and unforgettable day of hope building within.

    Before she went inside, she revealed that she would be leaving Boston to live with her father in Michigan. Sadly clinging to hope and clutching the note paper with her Detroit address, this dejected sailor navigated his way back to the shipyard.

    His letters to her were never answered.    
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