Published in


The “50s” Let’s Call Her Ginger — (a Cast of Characters for Mara’s Story)


Mara’s first baby was born in Honolulu. That made her a Kama’aina. A haole kama’aina!

Ginger was a golden peach of a baby in the nursery of Queen’s Hospital, glowing out like a sunshine among the other babies, most of them newborns from the mother of the islands or from Asian mothers with their dark hair. The fuzz on Ginger’s little head was definitely ginger-colored.

Mara’s dream had been to have a baby. To have a baby was a miracle in her eyes — and she had studied the book Thank You Dr. Lamaze over and over, doing the exercises and breathing, and underlining important things it suggested she do for the natural childbirth she so desired.

And she did it. The babe was about three weeks late, and Mara’s mother Sophie had flown to Hawaii for the event. And it went well. And Ginger was a plump and healthy baby, nearly nine pounds. Mara lost twenty pounds in the delivery. Her weight went from 120 pounds back to her slim 99 pounds.

What a glorious event, and surely Mara was enchanted to see this little miracle.

Very shortly after Ginger’s birth, the apartment became much too crowded for Jack. He arranged for a temporary assignment on “The Big Island”, and said he would come back when Sophie had gone back home to Pennsylvania. The big chill was the only ugly thing about the otherwise joyful event. Sophie was very hurt. She became morose, and drank heavily.

Mara and baby Ginger drove her to the airport and waved her a sad goodbye.

During the next three-month patrol on the Pacific, a frightening thing happened. A few days after he had set off, Mara had been giving the apartment a thorough scrub to offset her loneliness for Jack. She removed the jalousie window panes and washed them, and took up the woven fiber rug and waxed the floor from one end of the apartment to the other.

Then she went to bed, exhausted. She changed and fed the baby in the night sometime.

When Mara awoke next morning she immediately sensed something wrong with the livingroom/kitchen area. Something was just not right. Her neck prickled as she stood at the door to the room. It felt wrong. Spooky. Bad.

Two jalousie glass panels were out of the window (Mara remembered quite well having slipped them back in after washing them). And her purse and, insult to injury, her trusty pack of Camel cigarettes were gone! Just gone from where they had been on the kitchen counter. The double-lock and door latch were open and the front door was ajar.

In shock, Mara looked outside on the lanai and saw that the jalousies had been stacked outside the window. Someone had slit the screen, removed the jalousies, and then reached around to the door lock and opened it.

Of course the police came, and they explained that the footprint and fingerprints were from a known night burglar who never harmed people, but just took things when the husbands were not home. He watched what was hung on military people’s clotheslines outside. When there was no men’s laundry, that was when this thief always struck.

Mara had to get a new driver’s license, and when she went to the Coast Guard yeoman’s office to get new cards for the PX and Commissary, the Yeoman explained that they would have to contact Jack, at sea, to report the robbery and get that when Jack signed off on it all, then they would issue Mara new Military ID.

All Mara could think of was that Jack would hear that someone had entered the apartment while Mara and baby Ginger were asleep and had robbed them! The idea of a robber in the apartment was so upsetting, and she knew it would be upsetting for Jack, who would have to sit out there in the ocean for three months worrying about it. She begged them to make an exception. The Yeoman finally agreed, but told her they would notify Jack when the ship was ready to come back to base in the shipyard.

Mara’s skin broke out in blue circles. Tripler Hospital examined her and asked if she had had a shock lately. It turned out to be a physical reaction to the frightening event. The blue circles gradually faded away after several months. It looked like hookworm. Insult to injury.

Ginger would grow up to be a stunning redhead. Her early life and especially her teen life were challenging. She, like her father, was shy and uncomfortable in groups. And she did not like her small Church-based school where she was one of seven sixth-graders.

The move from that setting to the Northwest was the hardest transition for her, and very hard on the rest of the family. Her story is central to the stormy parts of Mara’s “50's.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Susan G Holland

Susan G Holland

Ever curious, I wonder, I ask, I probe, I learn, I write ;soon a grateful 84, still discovering the brand new day. I moved to New Mexico, a whole new paradigm!