Her name was Pat (Patricia) and she was Irish through-an'-through. She was a wee slip of a lass and cute as a button, as the cliche goes. Like Suzy, another cute girl, she was short, less than five foot tall and at the peak of her head was the loveliest red hair.
We first went together to a party that mutual acquaintances at Atlantic threw and while there made a second date to visit Willow Grove Amusement Park on a double date. This was not with Ronald and Ginny because by then Ronald was in the Army and gone from the area.
By the late spring, several dates together, we were getting very serious about our relationship. It reached that point where the girl invites the boy home to meet the family, and in this case, practically here whole family.
It was quite the shindig, a word her family probably never used, and I even had to wear a suit and tie for the occasion. As if I wasn't nervous enough just meeting ma and pa I was positively petrified when the whole gaggle of us sat down to eat. You see, I come from plain folks, working class people, who often suffered from lack of funds. When we sat down to a meal there was a dish, a knife, a fork and possibly a spoon. I would have a glass of whatever I was drinking and the "adults" would all have a coffee cup behind the plate, not necessarily on a saucer. Except for our more elaborate Sunday dinner, there was often no tablecloth and napkins were of the folded paper variety held in a plastic thing-a-ma-bob on one edge of the table by the salt, pepper and ketchup.
I survived that night, but I didn't survive something else, which had never even crossed my mind as a potential problem. Her parents did realize that we were very serious about each other. One morning that summer I came to work to find Pat waiting in the hallway for me.
"I have to talk to you," she said very solemnly, as if their had been a death, which there was about to be.
We went around the corner to a bit more private section and she said, "I can't go out with you anymore."
"Why," I asked, "what'd I do?"
" My parents have forbidden me to date you," she said in almost a whisper. "You're not Catholic…"
"I don't care," and I was getting angry. "That's not your parents' business…"
But she was crying now and we men don't handle women's tear well. She turned and ran into the ladies room that was only a few feet away from where we stood.
I stood there in shock, when this tall Irish lass came out of the restroom and up to me. She worked
This time she didn't say hello, she said instead, "What's wrong with Pat. She's in there crying her eyes out."
I told her and she tried to comfort me and gave me a smile and then we went to our separate work areas.
I don't know if it was that night or the next, but we did happen to ride down the elevator together and when we reached the front door we walked along next to each. We started a conversation about something or other and I accompanied her to her subway stop. I rode the train and had a few more blocks to the rail station. As she started through the turnstile I asked her out the coming Saturday. I waited to the last minute figuring if she said no then she'd go through the gate and I'd go my way without any awkward moments. She said yes.
Three weeks after that first date I looked across my Blue Plate Special there at Lew Tender's one lunchtime and said, "You know I'm going to marry you someday."
That wasn't a proposal, just a statement. We continued through the summer constantly seeing or wishing to see each other, when who should appear one day from nowhere but the Russian.
Yes, Sonja who had somewhat flippantly tossed me aside when
I did that fall propose to Lois in Valley Forge Park and a year later we married and that was nearly 53 years ago as this is written and that one is still here beside me. As to the others I do not know where they all went. Helen and Joan were early dates and more just passing diversions. Jeannette and I drifted apart after a year of correspondence as distance will do to summer romances and she found a steady boyfriend near home. Peggy became a stunning beauty as an adult, became a teacher, married with three children and seemly has lived happily ever after. I haven't a clue about Carmella or of Pamela. Suzy, the pilot, ever the adventuress suffered a very bad motorcycle accident in her twenties which left some mental and physical scars, but she is married with four children and four grandchildren to date. Louise married and has three children. Pat also married, but I've lost track of her. Sonja never married. She lived at her parents home for a long time.
Just a final note: Lois is partly Irish, but twice as much German on her material side, while a quarter Native American (her paternal grandmother. She began a new chapter, in fact several, in my life, fodder for future essays.