“What kind of bait could a woman use to catch you?” That was just one of the questions I posed to Wally G. on our honeymoon back in April of 1945. That’s what honeymoons are for, isn’t it? To get important questions like that answered. What I was aiming at, of course, was to know what I’d done to catch him.
He thought for a moment and then said, “No bait at all. Just a plain little gold fish hook would do it for me.”
(Now I must say here that Wally was the kind of fellow people instinctively like. Not that he sought attention. He was just natural and fun to be with. But when it came to women he could kid around with them, dance with them, talk with them, but not flirt. You see, he was plagued with the fear of being turned down. He might have got that from his mom who used to tell this story about herself: “My sister, Hattie, could flirt and boys hovered around her like flies around fly paper, but I never could so one day I asked her how to flirt. She looked at me pitifully and said, ‘Gosh, Gracie, if you have to ask don’t try!’”)
I said to Wally, “Did I catch you with a golden hook?”
“Yup, you did. Or I should say, your grandmother did.” I’d been living with Grandmother Darling for two years while attending Riverside Junior College. She had been a friend of his and his family for many years and had set her eye on Wally as an ideal match for me even before he got home from the South Pacific during WWII. When we did get together it was a family affair including his parents and his sister, Carolyn, six years younger and about my age. We had a good time and I was quite impressed with that young Marine officer in snappy uniform, but nothing more came of it. I figured he was the big brother type.
Getting back to that conversation about the fish hook...(it seems like I’ve told this before so I’ll skim through.)
Wally said, “Carolyn told me about your short unsuccessful engagement to that other guy and I was surprised you’d even be thinking of marriage. You were the kid sister type to me, but then I began to see you in a new light.” He went on. “I’d been included in a group of Officers Club gals in Hollywood, and had my eye on one of them, a short cute perky one, but hadn’t had the nerve to ask her out. Then she up and married someone else! I was shook. It was the story of my life, the too darn slow guy. Shortly after that Mom got a call from your grandmother asking, “Has Wally ever thought of dating Joycie?”
I’d have died of humiliation if I’d known! But it was after that when Wally started coming down from L.A. on his bi-weekly leaves to "spend time with Mrs. Darling and Joyce." These visits would start with a home-cooked dinner by Grandma on Friday night and on Saturdays a fancy date for the two of us in Hollywood. First, a stop at Cedric’s Flower Shop for a corsage, and then one of the Sunset Strip restaurants on Saturday. Afterwards a stage show or dance at the Palladium or ballet. It was a delightful courtship and led to our marriage the following spring.
I’ve been wondering lately if Wally would have ever broken the ice with me or any other girl if it hadn’t been for a matchmaker like my grandma. Turned out he was an excellent flirt when he knew it would get smiles or laughter out of me. He was careful not to flirt with anyone else, thank goodness! I was young but could play the part of a young bride quite well, and later a mother of three lovely children. It was a good marriage. Lasted 40 years. And all it took was a plain gold hook!