I did not call the Navy recruiting office but I sure did sme heavy thinking. It was stunning news. I was now eighteen but the age limit for acceptance for the Annapolis examination was twenty. I had lost a full year. I also thought long and hard about my job and the fun I was having using the car and dating girls.
Then, too, there was Mr. Garrison, owner of the CC Store. He was a very kind man and was encouraging me to save my money and go to college and take Business Administration. He had even paid the fee and enrolled me in a public speaking course evenings that the Rotarians were sponsoring for local businessmen. Mr. Garrison was taking the course with me. I had a feeling somehow that if I suddenly left I would be letting Mr. Garrison down.
In the end I told dick “no soap”. “Dang it, they turned me down once and now things are different. If the durn Navy doesn’t need me, I sure as heck don’t need them!”
“Okay, nipple-noggin,” he replied, “suit yourself, but you mark my words, there is a war coming and you will probably wind up getting drafted into the Army and go slogging around with a rifle getting shot at.
“Not me, boy. I am going to be out there on a nice clean ship—or maybe even an airplane—with a good place to sleep and three squares a day! You will be sorry, just you wait and see.”
I pooh-poohed him and laughed off it off, but I must admit that I watched with a feeling of envy the morning he packed that little green zippered bag and caught the bus to Portland.
It was not long after Dick left for boot camp that I got myself involved with Shirley Mills. She was one class behind me and had a sister, Mary, who was one class behind her. I knew them, but casually and knew that their father, Chapin Mills, was a state senator. They lived over on the east side at 25th and “F” streets. Being an old westsider, I considered them to be a bit out of my class.
Shirley was a full-figured girl with a moon-round face and a pug nose. She had long platinum blonde hair.
I used to see her sort of drifting dreamily down the halls at school in a shapeless coat, clutching a stack of books to her chest. I never considered her more than mildly pretty, although she did have very good legs. I never considered dating her, especially after I heard one of the fellows comment, “Boy, those Mills girls are sure squirrely pair!”
An afternoon in late March, I was coming up the basement stairway of the store with an armload of boxes of ladies’ stockings. On the middle landing, Shirley cornered me.
“Conrad,” she said, “Mary and I are going to have a party at our house next week and I would like you to come as my date.”
That jolted me, coming as it did right out of a clear blue sky. “Well, I dunno,” I stammered.
“Ah, come on,” she said with her best smile, “it will be fun. You know Mary’s boyfriend, Pat Madden. Pat will be there.”
I looked her up and down. She had herself all gussied up and was wearing a sweater that showed off her bosom and a tight skirt over her full behind and plump thighs. Her calves were nicely tapered to trim ankles. I probably blushed and finally said, “Well, okay. What night and what time?”
It turned out that the party was quite small. There was just Shirley and me, her sister Mary and Pat Madden, and two other couples I do not remember now. The girls’ parents were out at Eastern Star or something. They came in later while we were having refreshments, greeted all of us, then went off to their bedroom in the back of the house.
The other two couples left fairly early. It was obvious that the Mills girls did not consider the evening over but we turned the music down because of the parents. Not knowing what to say or do next, I finally suggested that we take the Chev, drive over to Swan Island airport in Portland, and watch the big airplanes come in. We could stop at waddles on the way back. The sisters readily agreed.
I had been serious about watching the “big” airplanes. United Airlines had just put the first DC-3s into service and, to me, that was a big sleek airplane. I drove across the Interstate bridge, and in on Union to Swan Island. There was a dark perimeter road around the airport. I parked a little way away from the lights of the terminal.
We ended up necking instead of watching planes. And so it began. I took Shirley to the movies then out for hamburgers a couple of times. She asked me to go to the Class of ’40 senior ball in April, which I did. That sort cooled my relationship with Elaine for a time. When I walked into the senior prom with Shirley on my arm, Elaine sort of glared at me and her manner was a bit icy when I danced with her later. Shirley assumed we were “going steady” but I did not. I continued to regularly see Pat Cross and some others, but I did continue to date Shirley from time to time. That full figure of hers was a definite attraction.