You may remember this

Herman Raucher is a novelist, screenwriter, and playwright, whose works include Summer of ’42, a chronicle of one summer in a boy’s coming of age.

The semi-autobiographical comedy-drama takes place on a sleepy island off the New England coast, where fifteen-year-old Hermie is spending the summer with his parents and sister.

Oscy and Benjie, Hermie’s pals, are there as well, and the boys hang out at the beach, lust after girls, and generally mope around. Oscy is the leader, a playful mischief-maker with a ready smile. Benjie, the scrawniest of the trio, is obsessed with announcing the time on his Ingersoll wristwatch (“Eleven minutes to three”). Hermie is busy “worrying about the responsibilities of approaching age, like lumbago and arthritis…and how to put a razor to his cheek…and should his mother continue to buy his underwear.”[1]

He is besotted with Dorothy, a twenty-two-year-old war bride who is staying on the island while her bridegroom is overseas. At first, the infatuation is from afar. Hermie watches Dorothy bidding farewell to her battle-bound husband. He observes her lithesome body sunning on the sand. One day he spies her struggling with bags of groceries and offers to help; she invites him into her home for his first taste of coffee. A friendship blossoms; for Hermie, it is true love.

In a pivotal scene, Hermie shows up at Dorothy’s house for a visit. He notices a half-consumed bottle of Scotch on the table. The record-player is stuck, spinning without music. There is a telegram: Dorothy’s husband has been killed in action.

Raucher wrote the screenplay as a tribute to Oscar “Oscy” Seltzer, a close friend from his grade school days in Brooklyn, New York. Oscy was killed in the Korean War. “The last I saw of him was when he was drafted…He came over to say goodbye,” Raucher said in a 2016 interview.[2]

Raucher based the nostalgic tale on a family trip to Nantucket in 1942, when he was fourteen.[2]

He spent seven years and received forty-nine rejections trying to sell his screenplay, before Warner Bros. took on the low-budget film. “We never had high expectations for it. We thought we’d just slip it in somewhere and maybe all of us would get some work out of it,” he said. Robert Mulligan, of To Kill a Mockingbird fame, directed. Michel Legrand wrote the music. Raucher novelized the film — his first book. Both the novel and the 1971 film, starring Jennifer O’Neill as Dorothy and Gary Grimes as Hermie, became an international success. “The gods smiled on us,” Raucher said.[2]

Herman Raucher lives in Connecticut. Visit his website.

Notes

[1] Pages 8, 34. Summer of ’42. Written by Herman Raucher. Copyright 1971. First Diversion Books edition May 2015.

[2] Interview with Herman Raucher, written by Richard Trust, Yesterday’s Island, June 16, 2016. Read the full interview at http://yesterdaysisland.com/herman-raucher/.