I was always a very shy, self conscious person. I spent my formative years overseas, in Hawaii and Guam, in the late 40’s and early 50’s. I was a very tall, blonde child, in a land of little brown skinned, black headed midgets. I would come home crying at times because I was so different. Being raised as a Navy Brat did not help matters any either, as Every 6 months to 2 years, we would change duty stations, which meant that I would have to change schools and make new friends AGAIN! It was a very hard life, always playing catch up from one school district to another. I never dated in school, and eventually gained weight, and hid behind my size, not knowing how to talk to members of the opposite sex. I graduated from High School, and stayed home for about a year, trying to lose weight and looking for a job that I could do, in a town with no business other than family owned ones.
A friend of mine from high school came over to the house and said we were going out to the dunes and meet sailors. I was aghast! I couldn’t put on a bathing suit, and go meet guys!! I was terrified! I went, and did not look all that bad after all. Linda was a bubbly never met a stranger type, and all she did was stand over our blanket in the sand and yell YOO HOO GUYS OVER HERE!! And the blanket was full of single sailors. I met a guy, and dated him for awhile, and he was the one who got me my first job at the Navy Exchange. Because of that job, I had to learn to talk to guys, as I was a line grill cook in the cafeteria. There was a club right through the folding curtain, and after 900 PM the club opened the curtains, and the two places became one. Dance and bar on one side and grill/cafeteria on the other. Guys would come over for a hamburger or a steak, and I had to learn to flirt and talk with them while I was fixing their order.
Linda would meet me after I closed the Grill, and we would change clothes and go over and dance and talk to the guys over on the bar side.
After a few months I met Chuck. He was 6’3” dark ruddy complexion, wide shoulders and narrow hips and just absolutely gorgeous. He was from Alabama and a year older than me. I fell head over heels in love with him, and fell for his Southern drawl and line hook line and sinker.
We dated for about 6 months, getting more and more serious as time went on, and then he got his orders to the USS Ranger stationed in Bremerton. I was so afraid he would go away and I would never see him again. During Thanksgiving that year, he asked me down to the ship for holiday dinner, and I was ecstatic! I was finally going to see and meet his friends. He had been on the ship since August and drove up every weekend to see me.
Needless to say I had fallen into the trap, and became pregnant. I told him that weekend that I was about 6 weeks along, and we set the date for our wedding.
We were married on December 30th 1966, and I was the happiest bride in the whole world. In March I quit my job on Whidbey and moved down to Bremerton, to start our life together.
I was sooo sick with the pregnancy, and unable to keep anything down. I slept all day, and worried that I was going to hurt the baby by not eating. The only thing I was able to keep down was cinnamon toast and tea. PERIOD! Chuck was not too happy about my illness, and kept telling me that I needed to get over it. I knew he was not happy, and felt trapped, but I blindly thought that all that would change once the baby was born. He seemed excited about the baby, and we went out and bought the crib and a few baby things.
In May, of 1967, the Ship was transferred back to it’s homeport of Alameda, Ca, and I was sent home to have the baby which was due on July 4th! I sent all the baby stuff in our household effects, and I only kept the few maternity outfits that I had.
Chuck drove me up to the Island, and left me with Mom and Dad, and drove his red thunderbird convertible away in a cloud of dust. I waited and waited for letters, and got nothing. The due date for the baby came and went, and the Dr was certain I should have delivered by then. I had pains off and one but they had stopped every time I thought it was time to go to the hospital.
Finally on August 12, I got a letter from Chuck. I was so relieved!! I had written him every single day, but only got the one letter. I walked across the field from the post office to the house, and read as I walked. My heart fell to my toes, as I read that he wanted a divorce. That he was never in love with me, and felt trapped. I cried for two days, and went into labor. I was in Labor for 3 days, and the Dr wanted to get hold of Chuck’s Commanding Officer and get his ass up her to be with me, but the ship was out on maneuvers.
They induced labor, and broke my water with bamboo skewers to get the baby to start down. With in 5 hours Donna Gayle was born.
She was the prettiest baby I had ever seen, and I could not wait to get her home and then call Chuck.
Chuck and I talked and we decided that we would give it a try, and once I was cleared for travel, he sent me an airline ticket and Donna and I left Whidbey for San Francisco. She was a darling little thing, all cute and doll like. And I was trying to present the best face too, I wore the suit I was married in, and had my hair all done up in a French twist. (when you flew in those days, you dressed UP!!)
I got to San Francisco, and walked off the plane into San Francisco International Airport, and there was NO ONE to meet me. I had the grand total of 20 dollars in my pocket, and a 6 week old baby and no husband! I was terrified!! I called my Mom, and she told me to call Red Cross, so I sat in the phone booth and bawled and bawled and bawled. A wonderful Big Security guard, found me and told me to find a hotel, and helped me find one close. And then he made sure I was ok, and then helped my call the red Cross.
They were absolutely no help at all, and told me to stay there in the hotel until they could find Chuck. Finally I called Mom again, and she called a friend of hers who came and picked me and Donna up, and took me home with them. We called the red cross again, to tell them where I was going to be. After a week, they called and told me that Chuck was out at sea and could not be reached. It turns out they were wrong, so When the Ranger pulled back into port, I was there to meet it, and We went aboard to talk to the CO. I finally found Chuck who had been in port the whole time, and he came back to Ruth’s house with us, and we talked. He got us an apartment and moved me in. He then left and never came back. SO I called the Household effects office to get our stuff delivered to my apartment, and was told that it had already been delivered several months ago to such and so address.
Ruth and I went to the address they gave me and the apartment was occupied by a woman who said she was Chuck’s wife too. WHAT? She and I both started crying, and she brought out her marriage license and showed me that she was legally married to him, but I had to tell her that No, Chuck and I had never gotten a divorce so I was married to him and she was not. I showed her my ID card, and she immediately called Chuck on the ship.
I tried to get him arrested, but the Alameda County Bunko squad said there was nothing they could do as the crime was committed in Nevada, and out of their jurisdiction. I went to the Chaplain on base who basically prayed us out of his office. SO I then went to the CO again who told me that the ship was getting ready to go take the Uss Forrestal’s place after her devastating fire, and all men were needed, so there was nothing he would do either.
Chuck called his mother who flew out from Alabama to see him and the baby, and she helped me get my stuff delivered to Whidbey and paid for my ticket back home. After a few weeks, I got my job back at the Navy Exchange, and filed for divorce. I was so hurt and angry at him that I swore I would never put myself in that position again. I worked three jobs in order to pay the bills, and Donna and I made it just fine for a few years until I met and married Jim. But that is another story for another time.
Chuck came up several times to see Donna, and then he disappeared again, no child support, no forwarding address, nothing. He stayed married, to the woman for a few years, and then last we heard he was on his 5th wife, and still had no children of his own other than Donna. She keeps in touch although not regularly, and he now lives in Guin, Alabama and is retired from the US Coast Guard. Nothing was done to punish him, and I learned a very valuable lesson. Depend on NO ONE but yourself! I worked long and hard, and made few friends, but I provided for my family, and raised two wonderful children.
Well, I did! What they did after I raised them, is not my fault!!