It was Christmas Eve day 1941, and Margaret was out on the town with friends. She loved the opera and she would save up the needed money and stand inline for hours, just to get standing room in the opera. She started sewing when she was in fourth grade and made her own clothes. She loved literature and was an avid reader. She also knew how to laugh and had a wonderful sense of humor that she did not generally point at other people and she wrote plays and funny stories. I still have two of them, faded and folded in a notebook.
She and her friends were out “slumming” perhaps and were ready to cross the street when the light changed. A very good-looking man, “short, dark and handsome” dressed in a suit, was also stuck at the light. He must have made some comment that she returned, rapid fire. They continued on until the light changed. He told her he was a nylon salesman and asked her to have a drink with him. Now, during World War II nylons were at a premium and very hard to find and it may be that it was worth a drink with the prospects of a pair of nylons in the offing. Her friends tried to dissuade her, but she replied that she would just have one drink with him and “lose him.”
She never reconnected with her friends that day. They talked all night. Over the course of their conversation, he said, “I can’t lie to you, you’re a nice girl. I am not a nylon salesman.” He went on to tell her that he was, in fact a Junior Third Mate on a cargo ship that was in port in Baltimore for the week. Sometime, but before the blackout I imagine, she took him home; not ostensibly, to meet her mother. But when her mother met him the next day she said, “Margaret! He could have killed us in our sleep!” To which mom replied, “He didn’t.!”
It was a typical wartime romance. They were 31 though and not 19. It wasn’t so much “boy meets girl” as it was “man meets woman and proposes.” By the end of the week she accepted. He was back in uniform and ready to sail. When they said good-bye, they parted not knowing if they would really see each other again or not. She said yes with the simple reservation that if they didn’t feel the same way about each other when and if he returned, they would once more go their separate ways this time for good.
They wrote to each other often in the ensuing months. He wasn’t due to return to Baltimore until early July. They set a date for July 11, 1942. The wedding was simple. She wore a stunning suit that she had made herself. They were married in the sacristy of the Catholic Church and her brother, Fr. O’Hara officiated. She was his “Maggie” and he was her “Jackie” and they could not have been more different from each other than they were. She was classy and well read. He had a gold tooth, a tattoo and chewed tobacco, yet somehow they were well matched. Despite their differences, there were other things that held them fast together. But that is another story. I promise not to tell you about when I was born, but the Beach Girl Chronicles don’t make as much sense without this one.
Not holding back the tide,