When it comes to the fine arts, perhaps I lack what some might call sophistication. I'll take the piccolos standing for "Stars and Stripes Forever" over Beethoven any day. Norman Rockwell's more to my taste than Picasso.
That's why I felt so honored in 1944 when the Saturday Evening Post commissioned Rockwell to illustrate my story. But Uncle Sam censored my tale for revealing a train schedule and the August 12 edition was left with just the cover, posted at http://images.asstr.org/files/Authors/HollyRennick/SEPost.jpg. The "Dewey's April Choice" lead story should have read, "Holly Rennick, our Fighting Men's Favorite."
When you read my manuscript, note how well Rockwell incorporated my details. As I said, he's very good.
You'll find Marie Carmichael Stopes' "Married Love" quoted in my story at http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/stopes/married/1918.html. A housewife's handy reference, so to speak.
Okay, enough bibliography.
Pardon me, boy, is that the Chattanooga choo-choo?
No ma'am. It's the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe El Capitan. All aboard!
My parents named me Hollith, but everybody calls me Holly. My father's in the Army Air Corps, not one of them who shoots down Nazis, but he's in charge of the weather in England. By that I don't actually mean he's "in charge" of the rain and what-have-you, as it's very variable over there, but he's the one who says when it's a good day for getting the Germans.
It's not that easy, watching the home front when your father's off and you're the only child. Mother of course does the cooking, but I'm the one who waters the Liberty Garden and watches for enemy agents. I've had especially good luck with Big Boy tomatoes and reported a man in a fedora who drove through town looking at our water tower. Being twelve, I'm effective against spies because a Nazi would assume I'm looking for my doll or something, not at his license plate, which was from Ohio. Chief Craycraft agreed that it sounded suspicious and said he'd keep his eyes open. The Chief lets me hang around the station to keep posted on who's wanted by the FBI. I'm not deputized or anything like that, though.
Going to Colorado to visit Aunt Loraine, Uncle Lester and my cousin Billy wasn't my idea of a real vacation because there wasn't an ocean -- not like Virginia where we went when I was seven -- but Mother liked knitting with her sister. Plus she says she sleeps better where it's not so humid. Uncle Lester made steel for army tanks, which while maybe not as important as being in charge of the weather, was still pretty important for tank drivers.
It was always fun to see my cousin who's also my twin. The "twin" part means that we had the exact same birthday, though he was born in Colorado and I was born in Indiana. Our grandparents had an article in the paper for having two grandchildren born the same day in different states. It didn't give our names, though, which wasn't fair.
I hoped that what Mother called my "growth spurt" would have moved me ahead of Billy. We'd been dead even last summer, making it pretty fair when we wrestled, except for a girl having more places to protect. It was pretty fun as long as we didn't get caught.
I was what Mother called "developing" which I knew Billy would notice right away. He was developing too, I was willing to bet. We develop very differently, of course, but it's sort of similar.
My friend Betty Sue and I kept track of our development. She got a brassiere before I did, but it was for her birthday, not because she needed it yet. They sell them at Woolworth's.
It took three trains to get to Colorado: Terre Haute to Chicago, Chicago to La Junta and La Junta to Pueblo. The first and the last were almost nothing: All aboard. Sit and look out the window. Get off. I liked Dearborn Station because there might be generals walking around. La Junta, on the other hand, hardly had anybody.
The middle leg was on the El Capitan, 5:45 P.M. to 8:45 A.M. We could have taken the Super Chief and had a sleeper, not a coach, but Mother said we couldn't afford it. I'm sure we could have if she cared more about her daughter.
Santa Fe French Toast was what I always got in the diner. Plus root beer. The observation car was pretty fun, at least till you got bored counting silos.
It's how you get to Colorado.
The soldier was a redhead. As his uniform looked too starched, maybe he was a new recruit.
When he tossed his knapsack onto the rack and hung his jacket was when I noticed his shoulder patch, the red star with the two eagle's wings! Army Air Corps, just like my father!
I wanted to point out our connection, that if he went to England, my father would find the best weather for him. Mother didn't like me talking to strangers, though, so I'd have to wait till she went to the bathroom. I hate bathrooms on the train because it just goes on the track.
With the soldier was a girl, maybe 20 or 30, blonde like me, wearing a floral shift and a white cardigan, the kind that college girls wear. No hat. No ring or anything, so maybe they were lovers going to California where she'd say goodbye on the dock. It would be really sad.
They for sure weren't brother and sister, the way she squeezed over him to get the window seat behind us. They could have been cousins, I suppose. I filed away in my brain how to squeeze over Billy.
Whatever it was the soldier said to the girl must have been clever, the way she giggled and touched his arm. When the conductor punched their tickets, she took off her bracelet.
It was fun looking out the window, but as everything was corn, there wasn't anything to see. Mother got almost a sweater arm knitted and I explored to the club car, but all-in-all, it was mostly sitting. When it started to get dark, Mother pulled down the shades and went to sleep. Mothers can do that, sleep sitting up with their hats on.
Me, I gave it my best, but it's hard to sleep when you're going to Colorado and you're thinking about wrestling with your cousin, you being more developed than when you did it before.
I practiced watching for enemy agents. Nobody would spy on Kansas, I suppose, but it's good to be observant and a good way to catch spies is with your eyes not quite shut.
A G.I. wouldn't ride with an enemy agent on the El Capitan, but the pair behind me were the easiest to monitor. The girl's black and white pumps looked like they might be from a foreign country.
What seemed more interesting, though, was their smooching. It was probably against the El Capitan rules, but with him going off to fight, maybe it was allowed. I didn't mind -- that's for sure. I'd written Billy a letter with little hearts at the bottom, so he'd know I'd let him.
When we pulled into Kansas City, nobody boarded our car and we pulled out after a few minutes of banging and clanging.
The soldier, lipstick above his collar, stretched his legs onto the seat between us and she laid hers on top. When she settled back against his shoulder, the tops of her stockings were visible from where I was spying until she took his jacket from the hook and tossed it over their laps.
The soldier was sideways to me, so he couldn't tell I was watching, but the girl sometimes turned straight toward me. Maybe it was because I was another girl that she winked.
I smiled back my best smile. It often gets you places.
In the process of arranging his tie, she managed to raise her finger to her lips and give me a "hush" signal. Of course I wasn't going to tattle! A tattle-tale is a low person.
I figured we had a lot of track to our next stop when the overhead lights went off. When we saw the sun, we'd be in Colorado!
I'd lots of experience seeing things in the dark back home. Dr. Fullerton says that I have very good eyes, as I can read the second line of the chart. The street light outside my bedroom was enough for me to read Photoplay after I was supposed to be in bed, so I always knew which movie stars were getting married.
The article about Kay Williams, for example, said, "Yes, there is a romance between the two. Kay and Clark have been an item ever since last Nov, and conjecture runs so rampant as to forecast that they may someday arrive at the altar."
That's Capt. Clark Gable, of course, also in the Army Air Corps! My father has never actually said that they plan things together, but it might be secret. Probably they talk on walkie-talkies.
It was also by street light that I read "Married Love," borrowed from Mother's dresser drawer, behind her girdles. It took me four nights.
"Married Love" was rather complicated for someone my age, but not one who's a good reader.
"But when the woman is what is physiologically called tumescent (that is, when she is ready for union and has been profoundly stirred), these parts are all flushed by the internal blood supply and to some extent are turgid like those of the man, while there is a plentiful secretion of mucus, which lubricates the channel of the vagina. In a really ardent woman the vagina may even spontaneously open and close as though panting with longing."
In other words, your body helps you start a baby. Not just the way that I was changing, which is important, but more specifically when you're kissing and petting.
Keeping watch on the train was easier than reading in the dark and certainly not as wordy.
The jacket on the soldier's lap wasn't that much cover, though of course it was better than nothing. I knew all about Army Air Corps uniforms. This soldier had the khaki trousers with a zipper, and the canvas belt with a sliding buckle. I didn't have to see under the jacket to guess where the girl was heading.
When Billy and I kissed last summer in his closet, I of course pretended not to notice how he wrapped against me. When I raised my arm to smooch better, I knew exactly when he moved to the front of my blouse. I wasn't that big or anything, so I was glad I had on my brassiere so he'd be impressed.
I pretended to block him, but not enough to stop him. It's quite smart to lure a boy close.
"Married Love" says,
"Man's penis, when quiet and unstimulated, is soft, small and drooping. But when stimulated, either by physical touch which acts through the nerves and muscles directly, or by the sight or nearness, or thought of some one lovely and beloved, which acts indirectly through messages from the brain, it increases greatly in size, and becomes stiff, turgid and erect."
Billy tried to block getting goosed, but he was backed against the suitcases and I was too quick. Plus maybe he didn't fight back as much as he could have since we were related.
His pants were pretty easy to feel through. It reminded me a carrot.
To be fair, I should have let him reach under my skirt, but I said it was my period, which wasn't exactly correct, but enough to stop him. I'd been the fifth girl in my grade to have hers, so I was above average.
After that we didn't go into the closet again, maybe because I wasn't that sure how to handle a penis and maybe because Billy wasn't that sure how long a period lasts.