In 1941 a friend of mine and I were doing a lot of sailing. We were sailing a Snipe class sailboat that his dad had made for him. A Snipe is about 16 feet long with a Marconi rig-some call it a cutter rig-to the sails (Mainsail and Jib.) We won all our races on Woodlawn Lake in San Antonio and qualified to enter the Nationals that just happened to be on White Rock Lake in Dallas that year. After several days of racing the winners were announced. A gray-headed crew from Connecticut won first and a gray-headed crew from Seattle won second. Guess who placed third in the Nationals that year, two teenagers from San Antonio, Texas: Frank and I. We were pretty excited as we walked away with that big trophy. Placing third out of about 40 boats from all over the US was quite an accomplishment!
My cousin, Mary Carolyn, wanted a playhouse so I volunteered to build her one. I built it in the back yard of our house on Meredith. I was real long on stoutness and a little short on delicate details, but I finished it and Mary Carolyn’s dad, Jim Hollers, sent some men over to pick it up. They could not lift it, as I had built it to last a long time. Dr. Hollers finally had to send a crane over to lift it over the back fence, put it on a flatbed truck and then repeat the process to unload it down at their home on Gramercy. Charlotte and I drove by there in 2000 (60 years later) and it was still in the back yard and looked good. I think if they ever want to get rid of it, they are going to have to dynamite it.
Mom was still teaching at Edgewood School. I was heavily evolved in the Reserve Officers Training Corps at Thomas Jefferson High School. Charlotte was very busy with all things social and also a sponsor in the ROTC. Each ROTC officer had a sponsor, which he had selected from the senior girls. Then, the most amazing thing happened that changed my life! Of all the boys in that High School, Shorty Sawtelle asked me for a date! Girls did not ask boys for dates back then, but we had a Sadie Hawkins dance where that was the thing the girls were supposed to do. I was on cloud nine. I cannot remember what I said, but it must have been yes, because she was my date for the dance.
Back in those days we had a dance every Saturday night in the gym, sometimes with a live band, and sometimes with a jukebox. The best dancers always wanted to dance with Shorty, but I was not much of a dancer. I was, however, the one who always got to take her home after the dance. Charlotte and I were dating, running around with friends, and just hanging out. Charlotte’s best friends were Ann Ebert, Miki Pickering, Fern Keller, Patricia Dwyer and Kassie Jersig. We all double dated, triple dated, not always with the same date, but my date was almost always Charlotte. There were no drugs, but some of the wilder guys had an occasional beer, and most of us smoked cigarettes. This was before anyone knew that smoking could be harmful to your health.
I was working afternoons at the Hom-Ond Grocery store, and on Saturdays at Mrs. Gulledge’s flower shop making corsages for the Saturday night dance. Of course I always made an orchid corsage for Charlotte. Her Mom complained that they were taking up all the room in the refrigerator. Charlotte and I dated almost every weekend.
I can still remember the first time I kissed her. I had just stopped in front of her house one night after we had been to one of our Saturday night dances. I went around to open her door-all the boys opened the door for the girls back then. On sudden impulse I reached in the window (which was open, no AC) and gave her a kiss. She responded warmly and I guess you could say the rest is history. We were pretty much inseparable after that and, I can remember well the warm feeling that flowed through me when she would sit over by me in the car with her head on my shoulder. I still get the same feeling today 70 years later. This was a happy carefree time of our life that was going to end abruptly and soon on December 7 of that year.
Photo of Snipe sailboat on White Rock Lake found here.
Photo of Hom-Ond grocery found here.