Saturday, January 3, 2009

As Dad Tells It / GuessWho Took Me Dinner

As My Dad Tells It.
My parents join John and I for coffee on Saturday mornings. Lately, my dad had been sharing some wonderful stories. So, I'm adding a new section to my blog that I hope you will like. I say, let the stories begin.

Guess Who Took Me To Dinner?

The year is 1944 and my dad was temporally stationed in Hawaii. He's waiting with others for a Battalion to be formed and a Troop Transport to take them to their next destination. With a restricted leave (which means back to base at 1700) dad and Arvin ?, a sailor from Tennessee, went to Waikiki Beach.

Can you imagine Shore Leave in Hawaii? My dad had never been anywhere other then Pennsylvania to visit family. Now, here he is at 16 and on a tropical island in the Pacific.
At the time, there were only two main hotels on Waikiki Beach, The Moana Hotel & The Royal Hawaiian. In between the two hotels, on a public beach, was a bar called The Merry-Go-Round, which is where the guys settled.

I said "Public Beach" for a reason. The Royal Hawaiian had it's beach blocked off to the public with a camouflage fence so high, you couldn't see over it.
The bartender asked my dad and Arvin if they had their swim suits with them. They said they did, but that stretch of beach had big rocks and was bad for swimming. The bartender told them he had a way around that and told them where to change and what to do. They guys changed and left their uniforms with the bartender. They followed his directions and made their way down the fence, into the ocean and swam around and came up on the private beach of The Royal Hawaiian. Ah, to be young and adventurous.
After a while of laying on the beach, the guys needed a bathroom but weren't sure where it was. Looking around, they saw the patio area and walked over and sat at one of the tables. They glanced around and saw the sign for the bathrooms and realized that they could reach it without having to go directly into the hotel. Coming back to the patio area, they sat at a table with an umbrella as they had gotten somewhat of a sunburn. A man came and sat at the table next to them and would look at them from time to time.
The guys wanted a Coca Cola, but they barely had $1 between them and didn't think they could afford it.

The man at the table next to them kept looking over and the guys thought they were in trouble as they were not guest at the hotel. In a little while, a waiter brought the guys 2 Coca Cola's and a pitcher of ice. Needless to say, the guys were dumbfounded and asked the waiter where it came from. The waiter indicated the man at the next table. A short time later, the man came over and joined them and said, "You don't belong here do you?" They feared that he would call the authorities. The man asked where their clothes were and how they got there. He also asked them where they were stationed. They weren't allowed to give the exact location, so they said that they were near the Sub Base. The man told them to go get changed and to come around to the front of the hotel and he'd meet them in the Lobby. They did, still not knowing what to expect.
After they changed and came around to the street, they noticed the MP's and SP's stationed there. They thought for sure that the MP's would pick them up. Still, they went into the Lobby and the man was waiting for them. "Come on in," he said. "Want some dinner?" They told him that they were on restricted leave and that it was getting late. He asked where they were stationed again. "Next to the Sub Base," they replied. "I know the Commanding Officer there, he's a friend of mine. Give me your names and Serial Numbers." They didn't want to because they thought for sure that he would turn them in. They realized with the MP's right outside, that he could have done it already. So, with a little more persuasion, they gave the man their information. The man made a phone call and cleared them and told them that he would take them back to the base.
So, there they were, in The Royal Hawaiian and heading for the Dinning Room. The man had a "Reserved" table. Reading the Menu, dad noticed that the most expensive thing was the steak. "Order whatever you want! The steak is the best."So, they had steak and Coca Cola and conversation. The man asked where they were from and upon hearing that dad was from Mount Clemens, he said he had been there to visit friends at one of the hotels. (For those of you who don't know, Mount Clemens, Michigan was know as The Mineral Bath City in it's hay day. People came from far and near to enjoy the mineral baths, but that's another story)
The man said, "I know who you are, but you don't know me. Let me introduce myself." He did, but dad didn't know who he was.
After dinner, the man called for his car & driver. Can you imagine, dad was escorted back to the base in a Cadillac LaSalle? The man took them back to the base as promised and by now, it was 2100 and the Marine at the Guard House greeted them with,"State your business." "Have you a pass?" They stated their business and their pass had expired at 1700. The man told the Guard "These men are my guests." The Guard replied, "You're both under arrest!" With that statement, the man said, "I want to talk to the Commander, he's a personal friend of mine." The Guard allowed the man to use the phone, which the man then handed to the Guard, who finished the conversation and upon hanging up allowed the car to enter the base. The man took the guys to their barracks' as he promised. As the guys got out of the car, the man said, "I sure enjoyed your company. You were very interesting. One from the South and one from the North."
The next morning, the fellow sailors asked "Weren't you on a restricted pass?" They said they were and told their them the entire story, including the name of the man. An older sailor said, "Don't you know who that is?" They said they had no idea. The older sailor said,"He's just one of the most famous song writers we have!"

You see, this 16 year old from Mount Clemens, Michigan had no idea who Irving Berlin was! Just in case you don't either, Irving Berlin wrote many songs. He's famous for writing "White Christmas."
Dad shipped out a few days later. He's destination was the Marshall Islands. He never saw nor heard from Irving Berlin again.
Now you have the whole story, just the way dad tells it.


Gina said...

I love this story! Thanks for sharing it, and BTW, I love, love, love Irving Berlin.

Amy @ Thoughts from the Mrs. said...

:) I can't wait to read more stories.
AND, there's an award waiting for you at my blog.