Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Island Fever in the Dead of Winter

 What are the most incredible islands in the United States? Discover Blog reveals those today. I'm delighted to see California's own Santa Catalina made the top 10. I've posted the link to that blog at the bottom of this page, plus one if you don't remember the Santa Catalina song by The Four Preps.

And here's my story about my 1955 honeymoon there soon will be published in Yvonne Lehman's anthology, Romantic Moments. 

 He Hijacked My Honeymoon

 Even before The Four Preps dubbed it the Island of Romance, to those of us who grew up in Southern California in the l950s, Santa Catalina was the number one honeymoon destination for those who longed for a Pacific island getaway but could not afford Hawaii. Even in our high school years, my female classmates and I used to daydream about someday snorkeling at Lover’s Cove or canoodling on a twilight cruise on the glass-bottom boats, though the only seaside we ever actually got to was old Tin Can Beach.

So when Bob, my fianc√©, first suggested we spend our wedding night at the historic Villa Riviera Hotel in Long Beach, and then fly to Catalina on a Grumman Goose seaplane the next morning, my heart began to pound. Up to that moment I’d been preoccupied with plans for the wedding itself, but now my attention immediately swerved to the honeymoon.

At long last, fabled Avalon! Technicolor images sped through my mind at lightning speed. We’d take moonlight excursions to view the flying fish. We’d hold hands while gazing at the coral gardens. We’d roam the glamorous Avalon crescent with its restaurants and nightclubs. We might even visit the movie theater at the old Avalon casino, in case one of us honeymooners grew bored. Not a likely prospect, I reassured myself with a sly smile. Who actually would resort to a movie for entertainment while honeymooning at a seaside resort? How excruciatingly embarrassing it would be, to be forced to confess to squandering moonlit Catalina nights at the movies!

Thrilled with my delighted response, Bob booked our flight and our room at the Hotel MacRae. I collected and perused travel brochures, planning our itinerary. We’d definitely take the inland tour to see the buffalo. We’d wander through Western novelist Zane Grey’s house, take the tour bus out to Two Harbors. I envisioned romantic tete-a-tetes each evening at such fabled venues as The Marlin Club or The Chi Chi Room.

I shopped for suitable beach attire. A new bathing suit, sunglasses, a beach robe, shorts, sleeveless tops, capris, tennies. I even found a pair of His and Hers beach towels, and a terry cloth tote bag to tuck them in. I was set! We both were!

The morning after our wedding, when we stepped off the Goose, I grinned when a cabbie took my suitcase and offered to taxi us over to the MacRae, though it was only a few yards away. Both
Bob and I looked dapper in our new beach duds, and I was pleased that my “going away” corsage, a creamy hued cymbidium orchid, pinned to my black sheath dress, fitted the tropical ambience.

That afternoon we strolled out to the casino. The movie theater occupied the lower level, with its walls sporting art deco murals of King Neptune and his son, Triton. But Bob had no interest in these, since his eyes had caught the poster in the front, which advertised the current selection. 

"Harems Topple!” it declared, in flaming red letters. “Kingdom’s Fall…Veils Drop!!”  It was The Son of Sinbad in Superscope, featuring Dale Robertson, and the stripper-turned-actress Lili St. Cyr.

“This is a MUST SEE,” Bob enthused. “Listen to this: ‘Beauties by the hundreds, thrills by the thousands, in the land where love knows no law.’  Doesn’t that sound great?”  His eyes gleamed. I started to object, but he looked so happy I couldn’t disagree. I nodded.

So we skipped the early evening flying fish tour and went to the movies. Though this seemed like a typical dames-and-desert opus to me, I could see that Bob was caught up in the visual appeal of the Vegas showgirls who were filling the screen. Especially the notorious burlesque queen, Lili St. Cyr.

Later that night, back in our room at the MacRae, he called me his little harem cutie, and mentioned that he’d heard of harem pajamas. Pity I didn’t have any, he said, raising an eyebrow. I countered by pointing out the many advantages of my baby dolls. He winked, and twirled an imaginary mustachio.” More than veils can drop,” he whispered.

The next afternoon, as we rested after our glass-bottom boat foray, Bob suggested a return trip to the theater. A compliant wife, I agreed. I was determined I wouldn’t be the jealous type.

I admired the domed ceilings, the fire curtain with its mural, The Flight of Fancy Westward. So far as I could determine, Bob admired Lili St. Cyr. 

The third night, after we returned from tracing the bison herds in the interior, I put down my beach-sandaled foot. No more Son of Sinbad. No more Lili. Enough was enough. I wanted cocktails at the Chi Chi, and an abalone steak.

That’s when I learned that Bob, to his chagrin, had been a lifelong devotee of desert adventure tales, and just couldn’t resist. “Just one more time,” he pleaded. “Hey, it’s Sin and Bad!” 

So I set aside my worries about any future embarrassment, and went along. Later he treated me to an Old Fashioned at the Chi Chi and referred to me as his sultry harem queen, eyes a twinkle. It would cost me little to indulge
his mini-passion for swashbucklers, I thought, and it made him so happy.

Once we returned home, I went shopping for some harem pajamas. I settled on two sets, in fact. A rather demure coral pair for sweet and tender evenings, and a racier black nylon set for naughty nights. Though I never enrolled in a belly-dancing course, I did manage a hip swivel or two, and a sultry slink across the bedroom floor.

Over subsequent decades Bob enjoyed endless televised reruns of old movies featuring Gunga Din, Beau Geste, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. I never objected. It made him happy. Through the long years of our marriage, he never stopped calling me his little harem cutie. And when he did, I’d always manage an appropriately demure blush, plus a sultry Lili-like smirk.


 And here's the immortal song by The Four Preps:

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