#33 – A Wave and a Marine – Pam Munson Steadman

The Duke was playing “Sophisticated Lady” on the radio in the background and this tall, skinny, basketball jock thought it appropriate indeed.

He had always liked brunettes.  This one reminded him of his favorite actress, Jane Russell.

“Can I get you anything at all, sweetheart” he asked with a boyish grin and a wink.

“Nope.  I’m just fine, thank you,” she retorted, thinking him extremely forward, even though a little bit of her sort of enjoyed his arrogant mannerisms.  A few months later, she, who had not an athletic bone in her body, would show up each day at the campus tennis court with borrowed racquet in hand…watching his play furiously.

The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and lives in the nation and world suddenly changed forever.  The plan was to get up to Pittsburgh and sign up for the Army.  While in a line forming for Army recruitment, the jock was somehow redirected into the line signing up for The US Marines.  He shrugged, and a proud Marine he became.

So, this brunette followed the jock.  He was assigned to Quantico, Virginia, and she was given nurses’ training at Bethesda Naval Hospital as a Wave in the Navy.  The two of them often met on leave in DC, pounding the pavement and enjoying one another’s company.  The jock called the brunette suddenly one afternoon and informed her that she had only one chance to answer his question.

He was “shoving off” for The Pacific and he wanted her to marry him.

But the war was on and the likes of The Dorsey Brothers, Glenn Miller, and other romantic bands, tore away at many a heartstring.  They eloped, found a seedy little hotel (the only kind they could afford at that time), sent telegrams to their parents, and brought in a bag of “White Castle” hamburgers to munch on for their wedding night.  The jock promised he would be right with her.   First of all, he needed to hear Johnny Boyer on the radio with the sports announcements of the day.

And so it was…the jock was injured in a jeep accident in Okinawa and missed the first six months of his daughter’s life.  Their marriage has lasted for over sixty years and has produced four children, seven grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.

Dad passed away  in 2008.  I remember him being happiest while singing Sinatra tunes and reminiscing about Big Bands and sharp brunettes on college campuses.

~ Pam Munson Steadman, Asbury Park, NJ

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