Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It happened on March 12, 1946

It was just before Thanksgiving and Frank had been cooped up in the bottom of the transport ship since Hawaii. His destination was within sight, and all the soldiers crowded against the deck rails, pushing and shoving for their first sight of home. They yelled and cheered as the boat pulled in to port at the Seattle docks, just waiting to spill down the gangway to freedom. The young Frank was just as eager as anyone. Dressed up in his dress uniform he let the mass of men carry him along the docks. He could just see his buddy Dennis caught up in a group behind and to his left. Dennis had promised to go with him to visit a friend of his mothers', Minnie Kuentzel. After they ate all the food they could push in, they were going to find a dance hall downtown and dance the rest of the night away.
They broke away from the group, and hopped on a trolley that would take them from the docks uphill to the foot of Queen Anne Hill which was where Mrs. Kuentzel lived. They switched trolleys at the bottom of the hill and rode straight up Queen Anne Avenue, to the top, then walked the rest of the way to the house. The doorbell chimed as he pushed the button, and a short woman with gray curly hair answered. She was expecting them, and as he walked into the entry he could have died at the good smells coming from the kitchen. It seemed he hadn't had a real meal in years, and he could barely contain himself. He guessed that doing his mother this favor was going to turn out all right. Mrs. Kuentzel introduced him to her husband George, who was sitting comfortably in his favorite red leather chair, then excused herself to go and get dinner on the table. Frank couldn't wait, and unashamedly followed right behind her into the kitchen and into all the wonderful smells of cooking food. To his surprise there was a girl at the sink with her back towards him peeling potatoes. He walked over to look over her shoulder and she turned to the left so he couldn't see her hands or face. She had on a white apron over her dress tied around her waist, and as he moved to the left, she turned right. This continued until Minnie turned around and introduced him to her niece Susie, who she explained was living with them. Susie had to turn then but kept her eyes down as they were introduced. No one had told him there was a pretty niece at Minnie's house. Things were looking better all the time. 
Minnie shooed him out of the kitchen so he joined Dennis who was chatting with George in the living room. About a half an hour later they were all seated around the oval dinning table, loaded with great food, and looking out at the view of Seattle at night. As promised, Dennis and Frank filled up their plates three times, until they were stuffed. Frank kept looking at the pretty niece and thinking about how long it had been since he had seen a real girl. Susie cleared the table and Frank found a bit more room when Minnie offered him a slice of lemon pie with coffee. He told her news of his parents, but he hadn't seen them in two years. George asked the two of them questions about their Palau Island base and their work and the war and how they felt now that it was over. When the ladies got up to do the dishes Frank offered to help Susie and so found himself at the kitchen sink with a dishrag in his hand. They chatted a bit as they worked and Frank asked her if she would like to go dancing with them. He told her his favorite was Glenn Miller and how they played his music back at camp. She in turn told him she was going to a Youth for Christ Rally after the dishes were done, and that she didn't dance. Frank had a decision to make. Dancing or the niece? He was torn but asked if he and his buddy could tag along with her? She said yes, if they wanted, and after she got her coat on they walked to the bus and rode downtown to the Rally.
Frank and Dennis returned to their ship late that night, and Mrs. Kuentzel had invited them to the house as much as they wanted while their ship was at port.
It turned out that Frank spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with the Kuentzel's, spending each night on the ship while waiting for it to take him back to San Pedro where he had signed up. When the ship finally sailed in January, he was engaged to marry the cute niece and they set the date for March 12th, two months later.
Susie spent her time getting ready, while Frank hunted down a new suit, which wasn't easy with all the demand. He had a photo taken that he sent Susie to keep her company until March, making sure she didn't forget him.
Soon enough, he was back with his parents for the wedding. They got married on a Tuesday afternoon in the chapel at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, with Susie's best friend June as bride's maid and Susie's brother Harold as best man.  
 The soldiers returning from war wasted no time in making up for lost time. Frank took the niece back home to Los Angeles, stopping along the California coast for a brief honeymoon. He was ready to start
life after war.


Anonymous said...

I know we all get our starts from somewhere, and it's really nice to know theirs. Very nicely done. :)


Peter Jones said...

Mom! What a cool idea! I love the way you told the story and that you put this on here for us to have, with the pictures. Thank you!