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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c h a p t e r s i x ........................................................... down with uniforms Lee had an inherent dislike for the military services. She grew up in Long Beach, California, which was a Navy town, and the Army’s Fort MacArthur wasn’t very far away. Her only contact with either the Navy or the Army was to watch the soldiers and sailors on the streets of the town on Saturday nights. Then again, in her job at Liberty House, she came into contact with military wives, and she had become convinced that they were dowdy, snooty, bossy, and generally unpleasant. Lee was sure that military people were not as nice as ordinary people. And of course, those military people who had anything to do with airplanes were the worst. Lee and I hadn’t been dating very long when I asked her to go to the Hickam Field Officers Club for a formal dance. The idea seemed to Lee like being thrown into a room with a lot of half-baked aviators and their dowdy, pushy wives, and she wasn’t keen on it. She finally agreed to go, but reluctantly. I will admit that this was probably not the best way to change Lee’s opinion of the military. Hickam Field was still under construction. The Officers Club was yet to be built. The rear part of the Base Operations building was being used as a temporary club, and this, at best, was pretty makeshift. Lee was dressed in a gorgeous long gown when I came to get her, and she couldn’t have been any prettier. I had on my dress white uniform and was on my best behavior, but even the orchid lei did little to make Lee happy about where we were going. It went from bad to worse. The temporary club was small and crowded, and it lacked air conditioning. The band was not the best. It was loud and hot and crowded. I tried to introduce Lee to a few of the people I knew, but I didn’t know many. It was so noisy that she couldn’t hear the names of the people she was meeting and so hot that you couldn’t dance without suffocating. My feet picked that night to be particularly clumsy. I was in a disaster area. PAGE 24 ................. 17575$ $CH6 10-14-09 12:23:42 PS Then the band played a ruffle, and it was announced that there was going to be a receiving line for the malahinis who had arrived on the last boat to go through the line and meet the senior commanders on the base. It was a ‘‘get acquainted’’ affair. I asked Lee if she would go through the line with me, and she declined. She wasn’t interested in meeting any of those stuffy old people. She had no intention of seeing any of them again, and she really didn’t care whether they knew who she was. I explained that I would have to go through the line and that we could find someone she knew to talk to while I was going through the line. She said, ‘‘Don’t worry about me. I can take care of myself. You just run along and do your chores.’’ The line seemed to take forever, and by the time I was finished, I found Lee standing by herself near a door. She wasn’t very happy. I was afraid that she would ask me to take her home, so I said, ‘‘Let’s get out of this hot place and get some fresh air.’’ I took her arm and hustled her out before she could object, and we strolled in the cool night air down to the flight line. It is hard to believe now, but in those pre-war days, there was no flight line security. We wandered around the airplanes parked on the ramp, not saying very much, and I asked her if she had ever been inside of an airplane . She told me that she hadn’t, so I tried the door on a C-33 Gooney Bird parked in front of base operations. It was open. The step was inside the door, and I set it on the ramp and helped Lee into the plane. We climbed forward through the passenger cabin to the cockpit. I opened the windows so the breeze could blow through and then sat Lee down in the co-pilot’s...


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MARC Record
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