Erotic fiction set in the World War II home front intrigues me. There was more sex happening at the time of Viet Nam, I'm sure, but maybe its abundance makes a less-compelling story setting. Free love gets pretty anatomical, but what else? Hoochie coochie was more complicated for the Greatest Generation, more worth writing about.
I've posted a photo of two U.S. Coast Guard Women's Reserve officers ordering a Coastguardsman to prepare for duty, a fun duty by the looks of things. The women were known as SPARs, acronym for the Coast Guard motto, "Semper Paratus--Always Ready." http://images.asstr.org/files/Authors/Holly_Rennick/Coast_Guard.jpg
Semper Paratus. A Coastguardsman's my type of man! Here's a picture of me saluting him. http://images.asstr.org/files/Authors/Holly_Rennick/Salute.jpg
I wasn't sure if I should wear gloves or not. It was September and this is Oregon. Maybe they'll be like the ladies in Charleston, I wondered, but unpacking and buying furniture left me no time to find out in advance. Anyway, I took my gloves; I'd slip them off if I saw they weren't in season yet.
I'd not be here in Astoria if my husband hadn't received papers to Tongue Point. I'd taken the train 3000 miles to set up our apartment and he got diverted to Puerto Rico! Nazi subs dropping Spanish spies, I guess they're worried about. I'll wait here until the Coast Guard stations him where they told us he was supposed to go. Coast Guard!
It was so nice, therefore, for Eunice to invite me--really my only break from the boxes. Out here on the West Coast, women are friendly.
Eunice's husband's supposed to be at the station, too, she said, but got sent to Iceland to train Navy lifesavers. Coast Guard!
"Bridge game at my place, Tuesday at 7:00. Girl's night out," she reminded me when we parted.
It might be my week's activity, I realized.
The fact was that none of the girls did wear gloves and two were even in trousers. Nice pants, to be sure, but they were pants. This wasn't Charleston, even if they wore stockings underneath. In Charleston, ladies don't play bridge on weekday evenings. Just afternoons.
Eunice took care of introductions. "We're glad you play bridge. This must be so different from the East, so much rain and everything," she apologized.
I didn't correct her that Carolinians are from the South, not the East. Before I moved, I read that South Carolina gets more rain; it's just more spread out in Oregon. Coastguardsmen's wives know about weather.
"Do you knit? Well, we'll teach you. It's really fun to make things." The girl named Jane would have issued me needles if I'd not demurred. "I'll start the bidding with a big pass. Who has the face cards?"
"Your husband--Dwight, right? He's in the service?" the one named Debby wondered. "Mine's in Alaska. No place to start a family, I told him. One spade, I think. Jane's is in the Pacific, classified supposedly, but it's just Hawaii."
Maybe that's why they invited me; we're waiting for our men. The good thing about a Coast Guard husband is that he usually stays close to home. The bad thing is that that was before the war.
"That's such a pretty blouse," noted Eunice. "Maybe they have it Portland. Whose bid is it? Oh, sorry. I pass."
I took the bid to two hearts and Debby closed it at two spades. I didn't mind being the dummy, first deal. Fewer chances to muff things. We made four.
By the end of the hand, I was almost one of the girls. Everybody thought it was great that we made even more than our bid.
As expected, conversation got onto men and the war. My Dwight wasn't an officer or anything (somewhat of a social demerit in Charleston, I'd discovered), but here it was much more about what he really does. Keeping the motors going is really important, they all agreed.
Did I work in a factory making airplanes back east? They'd read that girls do it. No, I confessed, I was a typist at County Records. Well, records are important, too, they deemed.
Eunice worked as a secretary at Tongue Point. Not saving people, of course, but in the office. The Lieutenant Commander's office, she noted with aplomb.
"That's where I met my hubby," she explained, counting her cards to see where she'd dealt wrong.
"Plus Bruce," quipped Jane, knitting as she waited for the dealer to find her mistake. "She made Bruce an Able Bodied Seamen by being his First Mate," which brought a laugh. I think it was a joke, anyway.
"Hey!" Eunice chided. "Secrets are secrets."
"Not in the Auxiliary," and everybody roared.
I laughed with the bunch. It's good to be included.
But oh my! I'd not tell a joke like that.
"The thing is," confided Eunice as she re-dealt, "it's really important to keep up the morale for the men guarding the shore."
"Did she say 'morale' or 'moral'," interrupted Debby. Chortles.
"No, really," Eunice continued. "Those boys get lonely, too."
"Some girlie in a bathing suit's giving your hubby a private hula dance and you're going to sit home with the Saturday Evening Post?" asked Jane. "You need a date now and then yourself, right? It's just till the war's over."
Just till the war's over? I thought about it. They go on dates?
Eunice noticed my brow. "Just Coast Guard boys. Everybody got thirteen cards this time?"
At the five-and-dime where I'd gone to buy clothespins, a blond Coastguardsman--just recruited, I could tell by his haircut--in front of me stepped back and his arm brushed my chest. I, too, stepped back, at first flustered, but less so when I saw his embarrassment.
"Sorry, ma'am," his eyes averting mine.
It was just an accident, but hanging up my laundry later made me think about the boys who bumped my breasts when I was in junior high. It happened to my friends, too, and we said the boys were creeps. But actually, I sort of liked it.
Next time, cards were at Jane's. I loved her spoon collection--one from nearly every state. "I trade for them," she admitted. "I've never been further than Nebraska."
I said I'd write my friends in South Carolina to see if they had extras.
"Eunice and I are doing coast watch tomorrow," the hostess volunteered while serving the coffee. Back in Charleston, we never drank coffee while we played. Out here, everybody just lays down their hands while we add the cream and sugar.
"Coast watch?" I asked.
"You know, look for subs."
"Oh my! I didn't know."
"We never see them, but the Japs got a freighter one time!"
"Or sometimes what they do is sit offshore so spies can blink them signals."
"Are there Japanese who live up here?"
"Not like California. We got some draft dodgers, though."
If I were a spy, I'd want to be in the Coast Guard so I could steal the lighthouse signals, but I didn't say it.
"It's not too dangerous to watch for subs," Jane assured, "but sometimes it's pretty rainy. One diamond."
I was doubtful. "They let us do it, women, I mean. After all," I reasoned, "what would we do if we captured one?"
She laughed. "Tell him to go home. We're just the Auxiliary. Free a man to fight, the way they say it," she added. "'Course, the ones who guard the beach are pretty important, too."
"Yes, I'm sure. One heart."
"Our little way of helping. Just for an hour or so," she clarified, which wasn't clear at all. "Want to go in my place? I could use the shut-eye."
"I'm not in the Auxiliary."
"Sure you are. You play bridge. Eunice will pick you up at 20:00. That means eight o-clock."
I knew that.
"Wear a raincoat, 'cause it'll pour if you don't."
I got torpedoed at one heart because I missed my finesse.
That week I saw the Coastguardsman who'd bumped me at the five-and-dime. He and a girl went into the Seashell, the movie house. The picture was a cowboy one. I wondered if he bumped her breast at the ticket window. If they sat in the back. If they watched the movie.
I'd done everything with Dwight because we were married. I liked doing it a lot. But I still remembered the boys in senior high who touched my top. I'd let them feel me up, but not too much, so they'd not start stories. It was pretty fun, those days.
We were an Auxiliary of two: Eunice driving a Coast Guard automobile and me the new recruit. I'd not the slightest idea of how to spot an enemy sub. We drove to a bluff overlooking the Pacific. "Thar she blows," explained my partner, pointing to a boxy-looking structure on stilts.
It wasn't that easy climbing up the ladder and through the opening, but I'd pants on, per Eunice's advice. At least it wasn't raining.
The lookout cabin wasn't much bigger than a delivery van. A window pointed seaward. Two chairs. Trunks against the back. A telephone, the boxy military type, on the wall. The view toward China was nothing but fog.
"We take turns?" figuring I'd hardly sleep when it wasn't mine, anyway. I knew about watches from Dwight.
"Naah. We can't see them and they can't see us, so it's safe. We'll just wait for the guys."
.... There is more of this story ...