New London, 1940
In New London, several dogs came and went and all belonged to someone else until Rex, the king of all dogs, followed me home from school. Rex was a fine looking animal, showing a strong resemblance to German Shepherd ancestry, and referred to in those days as a Police Dog. He was the first dog I gave my heart to.
Our last months in Connecticut went fast, and I learned to sing in the outhouse, play hockey with the boys and build my own sled. I became a good correspondent to my grandpa and to Mrs. Jaquish, an old next door neighbor of ours in Long Beach.
Grandpa had been a good hockey player in Montreal, and we planned to skate together once I returned home, though that never happened. He was small in stature, probably only about 5’6″ when he was young, but apparently very fast. My memories of him are of a humorous man who could wiggle his ears and make jokes. He claimed my grandmother was still his wife, though she married three more times after they were divorced, which shows a strong sense of renunciation on his part.
Christmas 1940 was a nonentity as we had our orders to return to Long Beach in a week. People who live in rented furnished apartments can pack in a hurry, so putting our few belongings in the old Chevrolet which brought us here, we were ready to go. My gift from my Dad that Christmas was a gold heart locket with my initials on it, in which I put small photos of my parents. I still have it tucked away, and the hockey stick of my own I had asked for never came to be.
Long Beach, 1940
Back at Grandma’s our family had grown as my aunt Corinne had divorced and with her cute three year old daughter now had the coveted back bedroom where Harry Hance had lived for so long.
I was sent to stay with Aunt Georgia for the summer, and my Dad came there to say goodbye, looking quite handsome in his new uniform of a Master Chief. He was shipping out but didn’t know where.
When school started in September, my mother bought a new blue Plymouth sedan and we moved back to Grandma’s this time to a gracious old house in Torrance, California.
Grandma had met a nice widower with whom she was “keeping company” who lived in Torrance. Our new house had lots of bedrooms to rent which soon filled up with two or three young women till we were nicely crammed again.
One of our roomers was a tennis player with a large and shapely bosom who gave me an old racket, and instructed me in the basics while I practiced banging the ball against the garage door in the back alley by the fig tree. She seemed to live in her white tennis outfit, which probably helped her game. Since I did not have one, I put it on my Christmas list.
One evening I walked in on my mother and aunt being given instruction in the proper method of putting on their bra. According to her, she gained her extra dimensions by bending at the waist and letting gravity do the rest. I’m not sure she deserved being considered a good teacher either of tennis or the fitting of lingerie, since I saw no difference in the measurements of either of my relative’s busts, and I never became a great tennis player.