Launching A Courtship

It was 1951 and I was employed as a pharmacist in a drug store in Brockton. I worked a six-day week and alternated between a 9A.M to 6PM shift and a 1P.M. to 10:30P.M. shift. Almost every afternoon about 3:30 P.M. we had a regular customer who appeared at our soda fountain. She was a nurse from the Brockton Hospital who worked the 7-3 shift. She used the store like some guys would use a bar. Conversation and camaraderie seemed to be her raison d'etre.It appeared she had more than a passing interest in the store manager, who did not reciprocate his feelings. It wasn't that she was unattractive but Don was quite a bit older and a happily married man with a family. As far as the pharmacist was concerned, she was quite a bit older (thirty-something) and he was unmarried and uninterested.

One day she told me about a nurse who worked at the hospital.They overlapped shifts at 3 P.M. Her name is Gloria and she is almost your age. She has a great personality, is attractive and I have been telling her about you.I wondered if she told her about me as many times as she told me about her. She won't come to the store to meet you but I am sure I can arrange for you to call her so you can go to her house to meet her.What the Hell! I can always go to her house some day after my 9-6 shift. I can afford to skip one night with the guys.

Her house was in the West Side, fairly close to the store. I arrived at the appointed time in my maroon 1947 Chevy convertible. I walked up the front steps onto the porch and rang the bell. The door opened and all I could think was There was no thunderbolt or opening of the heavens but a great sense of relief. All the anxiety was over and the trip seemed to be well worth it. I was invited into the house where I met her mother, a pleasant lady with gray hair and a beautiful smile. She spoke with a little Italian accent that I, of course, had no trouble understanding.

I learned much later in our courtship that Gloria's father had me investigated by some of his close Italian friends. I never knew if this occurred before the first trip to the house or later. I tend to think it was before the first trip since the parents didn't seem reluctant to let their daughter leave the house with this guy from Avon. We left Brockton and headed for Boston and the Bradford Hotel Lounge.I heard there was a great jazz trio and vocalist playing there.. Payday was a few days off, so I spent a good portion of the evening wondering if I was going to have enough cash to pay for drinks, gas and other expenses. I couldn't help thinking of a friend who told me he would approach the waitress on the side and ask her to fill the glasses with plenty of ice. Melting ice is a lot cheaper than a second round.I didn't ask. I decided to take my chances. The evening was pleasant but, as I learned later, not especially earth-shaking.
We arrived home before the witching hour, 1 A.M. Sam, Gloria's father, had a curfew for his daughters. I hadn't met him yet, but I saw no reason to challenge anything at this point. Besides, who wanted to test an Italian with strict rules? Should I call as promised? There was something about this girl that this boy found likeable. In all the years that followed, this same something was apparent to everyone who met her. What the Hell! All she can say is No.We agreed that I would meet her after her shift at 11 P.M. This was convenient since I closed the store 3 or 4 nights a week at 10:30 P.M. She appeared at the hospital's front entrance about 11:15 and we drove across the city to Producer's Dairy, a small restaurant near her home. She ordered what became a regular choice for many years, a toasted chopped ham and pickle sandwich with a cup of coffee. I liked cheeseburgers. We stayed there a little over an hour and found much to talk about. Since her house was nearby, it was a simple matter to get her home before Sam's deadline.
There were dates at movies and occasional dances that followed. All the while, the trips to Producer's Dairy continued after work. We liked each other's company. As this piece is written, I am reminded of a recent scientific discovery that romantic love between human beings can be attributed to the action of a specific chemical, phenylethylamine, on the brain. Someone should investigate if this chemical is present in large quantities in chopped ham and pickle and cheeseburgers.
The inevitable happened. I asked and she accepted.I was invited to her house for dinner.I met her brothers, her sister and husband and her father.Her parents met my parents. We were married in Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Brockton On May 4, 1952, about six months after that first date at the Bradford. We headed for Canada on our honeymoon and spent the first night at,where else,the Bradford. We visited my sister Mary and her family at Lincoln, New Hampshire. The top on the Chevy was down most of the way. After all the relatives and friends met and got to know Gloria, there was one inevitable question: How did someone like Mike end up with such a wonderful wife like Gloria? Of course, the only answer is. Lucky, I guess. In a few months the calendar will turn to May 4, 2016. It has been sixty four years since we held hands at the altar. The menu at the anniversary party will be Chopped Ham and Pickle Sandwiches for the ladies,Cheeseburgers for the guys and plenty of ice with the drinks