By Dorothy and Jackie in North Carolina
A bit of Background: Many of you that I know personally hear me talk about these two aunties of mine. Greeks often call your parents’ first cousins “aunt and uncle”. It helps that they were like sisters to him. Also, as an only child, I completely believe in this concept and am so thankful for my own cousins–they’ve stepped up to be siblings!
I’ve written many essays on Dorothy and Jackie. Two sisters with southern charm yet a “tell it like it is” attitude. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them and was elated that their tales validate that dating has always been this cringeworthy.
Dorothy’s story: One afternoon, my cousin Chris (Alexii’s dad) called and asked if I would do a favor and pick up some friends of his from a hotel downtown as he had invited them to dinner and they did not have a car.
Certainly I would.
I went to the Madison (we were living in Washington DC) to pick up his friends in my Ford, which had recently been involved, shall we say, in a mishap with a large trash bin and had created a problem with the right side whereby you could only open the door from the inside.
I came to the entrance of the hotel and three people were waiting for me. There was a tall woman, a tall man and an elderly man. I promptly opened the door from the inside, got out and proceeded to greet them.
They got in and off I went realizing that I did not have enough gas to make the trip. I apologized as I told them I had to stop for gas. At the station I ordered ten dollars worth of gas, which the attendant added to the tank and we were on our way to Virginia. We chatted and they asked me about my job with the Senate and I excitedly told them that I worked for Senator Stennis’s Senate Arms Services Committee and how much I enjoyed being there. They did not speak about themselves and we finally arrived at Chris’ house.
Alexii’s father had prepared a meal fit for a king as was his way when he had guests. He greeted them at the door and took them in for drinks before dinner. After a few minutes, we went to the dining room and began our dinner. While they talked, Chris nudged my foot as he realized that I did not know who they were. The younger man was an emissary from Greece and the woman was a secretary to the older gentleman, who was Esso Pappas, one of the richest Greeks at that time as he was involved in the oil business. Needless to say, I was impressed.
Chris went to the kitchen to bring out another dish and I followed him. He spoke in a low voice and said something to the effect that I might become interested in Mr. Pappas as he was a widower.
“Just think,” he said quietly.
“I could help with his oil ships as the captain! This would be a dream!”
Turns out, Chris had a bit more in mind when he set me up!
The dinner ended and I believe Chris drove them back to their Hotel. It had been a delightful evening and one to remember. The only caveat was that I paid for the gas.
Picture this: Wilmington NC
1961… Vietnam war was raging…
Jackie Pastis had a show on Channel 6 called “Zingo Bingo”
And a Marine from Camp Lejeune called the tv station after he saw me one night…
And talked with Betty Hudson (the Copywriter) and asked if she could arrange a blind date with me to take me to Camp Lejeune for a big US celebration…
I said yes (anything for my country) plus I had no boyfriend.
So the big formal night came around and I was discussing it with my crazy friends and sister. We talked about my date. But first, decided to have some fun.
We decided to dress one of our friends with a hideous gown with a hoop skirt, gloves with lace, and a “baby Jane” hairdo. We completed her look by giving her a fake, big mole and blacked out one of her teeth in the front.
Oh! Yes, and a lace fan that was constantly fanning herself as she rattled on and on… We figured if he wanted a blind date, he’d get one!
Meanwhile, I was dressed in a beautiful gown and looked pretty good while I sat and hid in the bedroom.
As the doorbell rang, everyone was trying to keep a straight face when Jean (the fake Jackie) opened the door with a “curtsy” to him as if he was royalty… He was dressed in his beautiful formal uniform and without blinking an eye came in and sat in the chair after removing his hat and stationed it under his arm…
The sofa consisted of my sister and a cousin staring at this wonderful soldier facing something more frightening than any enemy–the southern hoop-skirted-missing-tooth-girl that he was supposed to escort to the most important affair of his life.
Jean would interrupt him and giggle about how excited she was to go to the ball. He was still in soldier posture and was a true gentleman by not wrinkling his face in disgust just looking at her. My sister and cousin kept straight faces.
Finally, I yelled out “enough” and went into the living room when Jean ran away, thank God…
“I’m your date, Chuck!” And he looked at me and said simply,
“Thank you, so much.”
On the way to the ball, I asked him how was he going to present Jean to his commanding officer where he had two seats reserved at his table.
He looked at me and said “I was planning to get lost on the way and never show up with her.”
We laughed and laughed all the way to Camp Lejeune where I met all the marine Brass and had a wonderful evening with a good sport and a professional soldier. We had exchanged one letter and unfortunately he gave his life to his country during the war. I will never forget Chuck and his amazing ability to stay a gentleman in a very crazy situation…I will never forget him.
For more information on #loveinatimeofcovid or if you would like to contribute to the project, please click here.
*Note* We are wrapping up our first “wave” (sorry…was that completely void of class?) of this #goodnews project. If interested in contributing, please submit by July 15. Otherwise, I may reach back out for more tales when the world is in need of #goodnews once more. Stay happy and healthy out there!