Monday, September 17, 2012

The Abortionist in the Basement, Part IV

The Final Straw

I am well aware, Dear Reader, that I had promised that this installment would be the last in this series.  However, while writing this post I realized that it would take yet one more installment for me to complete Marta's saga.  I appreciate your forbearance.

One evening during my parents' out-of-town trip, Marta announced at the dinner table that she and Big Daddy were going to take me and my siblings and Telma to the beach the next morning.  We were going to leave at dawn and drive to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where we would spend the day taking in the pleasures of the beach and boardwalk.


Even though Rehoboth Beach was one of the closest seaside resorts to Washington, D.C., Hermione, Frecky, and I had never been there before.  That's because MD considered it to be a plebeian and down-market destination, and an out-of-the-question one when compared with our family's usual seaside haunts of Nantucket and the coast of Maine.  MD thought Rehoboth Beach to be, in a word, unsuitable, for people "like us."*

Furthermore, we had a perfectly nice country house in rural Maryland that we went to on most weekends, so why go to the beach in Delaware?


According to MD, "our kind" didn't go to Rehoboth Beach, as it was all rather honky-tonk, what with its cheap cotton-candy-and-salt-water-taffy boardwalk culture and throngs of sunburnt mid-Atlantic sorts who didn't know any better than to enjoy themselves there.


Needless to say, the prospect of our spending a day at Rehoboth Beach was terribly exciting, if not thrilling!

Marta told us that we could only go to Rehoboth on two conditions: the first was that we must never, ever tell our parents about Big Daddy's moving in with us, and the second was that we must keep secret our trip to the shore.

With that agreed upon, we all got up early the next morning and piled into Big Daddy's limousine.  My sister, brother, and I sat in the back, along with Telma.  Big Daddy and Marta rode up front.

A one-day round trip to Rehoboth Beach from the Cleveland Park neighborhood in Washington is a considerable undertaking, under any circumstances.  Today it takes about three hours to make the 125-mile one-way trip.  In the early 1960s, when we made the journey, it easily took four or more hours to drive each way, particularly on a busy summer weekend.


But how could one object to spending the better part of the day in transit when one was riding in the Ecuadorean Embassy's limousine, with Big Daddy at the wheel?  Riding in the back of the car was exciting, and it was highly entertaining to watch the people in the other cars staring at us with open mouths, as we drove by in the huge, black limousine.  We became giddy with pleasure and astonishment when Marta told us to throw our leftover food wrappers, soda bottles, and napkins out of the car's windows instead of properly putting them into a paper bag for later disposal, as MD had taught us to do.  I still remember the delight I took in flinging the trash out of the car's window and watching it fly away as we rolled down the highway.**

Our brief visit to Rehoboth Beach was a blur of sun, boardwalk rides, fried seafood, and saltwater taffy, sandwiched between the long car rides to and fro in Big Daddy's limousine.  On the journey home, all of us stuffed and sleepy, Marta reminded us of our pact.  We three Darlings promised, again, that we would never, ever tell.

My parents returned to find the house as they left it, with all its occupants in their proper places and Big Daddy nowhere to be seen.

Several days later, though, MD found out that all was not as it seemed.  She overheard a conversation among Hermione and me and our little neighborhood friend Antonia de Peyster, in which we talked about going to Rehoboth Beach and how much fun we had there.

MD summoned Hermione and me in front of her.

"What's this I hear about your going to Rehoboth Beach?"

Silence.

"Come on now, you two, tell me!  When did you go there?  Who took you there?"

With the jig up, Hermione and I sang like jailbirds.  The whole story came tumbling out that we and Frecky had gone to Rehoboth Beach with Marta, Telma, and Big Daddy in the Ecuadorean Embassy's limousine.   MD further extracted that Big Daddy had moved into our house while she and my father were away, and that Big Daddy and Marta and Telma had made themselves comfortable upstairs for the duration of my parents' trip, with Telma sleeping in my sister Camilla's bed, and Big Daddy and Marta sleeping downstairs, in Marta's room.

MD was furious.

She angrily confronted Marta, who tearfully corroborated our story and begged forgiveness and another chance to redeem herself.  MD, however, had finally had enough of Marta's wayward ways, and she sent her packing.***

Hermione and I were beside ourselves.  We had betrayed Marta, and had gone back on our word to her that we would never tell MD what had happened while she and our father were away.  I had grown very fond of Marta and Telma while they lived with us, and the fact that they were being sent away because of our stupid blunder was extremely upsetting to me, and I bawled like the little boy that I was.

Marta and Telma moved out that very afternoon, driven away in Big Daddy's car, never to be seen or heard from again.

Well, not exactly.

One year later MD received a telephone call from an officer at the Department of Immigration and Naturalization with a request for an interview about a woman named Marta, who had once been employed in our household.

Marta had apparently got herself into very big trouble.  And a whole lot more trouble than any of us could possibly have imagined.

Next: An Unsettling Visit from the INS

Reggie understands that MD may well have been entirely wrong in her disapproval of Rehoboth Beach.  As he has written before, MD could be a terrible snob, and she had very strong opinions (not always entirely well informed) on almost everything.  Reggie spent several weekends at Rehoboth in his twenties, where he enjoyed himself immensely, and he understands that the seaside resort has been much improved since then.

** To the best of his knowledge, this was the only time in Reggie's life that he ever consciously littered, a practice of which he highly disapproves.

*** MD said years later that she had felt sorry for Marta and Telma, and that she gave Marta three months wages in cash, even though she felt she was under no obligation to give her anything, considering the circumstances.

55 comments:

  1. have a feeling this story does not end with Marta and Big Daddy living happily ever after. I suddenly have the urge to drive to Myrtle Beach, buy an airbrushed t-shirt and eat some taffy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Parents are the worst people to lie to--it virtually cannot be done, thus exposing yet another of Marta's lacks of judgment.

    Beach resorts do seem to have their ups and downs. In Cleveland, the nicest public beach was always Mentor Headlands, a little ways out. Of course, today they announce "bacteria counts" for beaches, a notion so unpleasant that one might opt for a hike in the park instead.
    --Road to Parnassus

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reggie has never been very good at lying. He finds the truth much easier to remember! Bacteria count? Blech!

      Delete
  3. Sounds like the Stockholm Syndrome to me. You were kidnapped. Complied and lied to. in a harmless way??? BD misappropriated government property for his own personal gain. but aI becha that still happens today whistle blowers do not exist sad sad commentary Biden and Biker chicks four more years

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was with you for the first part of this...

      Delete
  4. Hello Reggie:
    We have been so entertained by this wonderful description of a day out to Rehoboth Beach and, of course, the consequences which were to follow. We are able to picture exactly the scene, the kind of place and why your mother would so disapprove. The exact meaning of 'honky-tonk' is unknown to us, never having heard the expression, but it does, we feel, sum up all the ghastliness, which children so delight in, very well indeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear J&LH: Thanks -- why am I not surprised you have never heard the expression "honky-tonk?" Reggie

      Delete
    2. I dont equate Honky-tonk with children ! dont think Mick and Keith do either

      Delete
  5. Looking forward to the next instalment ...

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have been gripped by this since the beginning! I'm very much looking forward to the final post.

    And I was glad to hear you disapprove of littering. I had nothing but sympathy for Marta up until that point. (Weirdly, even despite the shoplifting!) But I'm afraid I just can't forgive such wanton disregard for the countryside.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. Littering is completely unacceptable, in my view!

      Delete
  7. If MD thought Rehoboth was honky-tonk, she'd have died if she ever saw Ocean City, MD.

    Great story. Can't wait for the denoument!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, MD would have had real issues with Ocean City, I am sure...

      Delete
  8. I can only imagine the feeling of violation upon learning that one's personal spaces and bed had been used by a stranger of sorts. I would be very upset at that.
    I have always been fond of Rehoboth and consider it superior to certain Virginia beaches, a fact that I have still not convinced my husband to even consider.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The few times I've visited Rehoboth as an adult, many years ago I admit, I found it delightful. Reggie

      Delete
  9. It is for all of those honky-tonk down market characteristics that so delightfully characterize Rehoboth, that I take LFG there at least once every summer. She needs it--to balance the fact that she took her first ever steps as a toddler, on Nantucket. And to this day, she believes that the Sherry Netherland's horse and carriage was procured, when she was three years old, just for her.

    Now don't leave us hangin' for another week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One, indeed, requires contrast to appreciate what makes such places special! I will be more hasty with my next posting, I assure you.

      Delete
  10. I am jealous! I was not allowed to attend Beach Week or whatever it was called back in 1963.

    My only experience of Delaware beaches has been over Columbus Day weekend at Dewey Beach. There is a huge Greyhound event then that is absolutely splendid. It looks as if several thousand space aliens have taken over and they are all hounds!

    xox Camilla

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Sister,
      Delaware's beaches are marvelous -- wide, sandy, dune-covered stretches of some of the most beautiful seashores imaginable. The image in one's mind's eye of what you describe is most-intriguing. The sight of so many hounds together in such a setting must be thrilling. Reggie

      Delete
  11. Reggie, somehow the thought of you throwing trash out the window was unimaginable given your erudite upbringing and your highly refined sensibilities. Then again, it reminded me of a time past when this act was more commonplace. My how some things do in fact change for the better. I am loving this story and hope you have more in that steel trap mind of yours to keep us coming back to share your memories and adventures. I so wish you had a picture of Marta and Big Daddy to post, but I can well imagine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anon, thank you for your comment. Although, in the summer of 1963, when our trip to Rehoboth occured, littering was far more common-place than it is today, it was even then something that we (as MD's children) were forbidden to do. So, the encouragement to do it by Marta made it all the more delightefully wicked! I, too, wish I had a photograph of Marta and Telma, and Big Daddy, as I would love to post it here to illustrate the stroy. Perhaps one of my siblings has one, but I haven't checked so far. Reggie

      Delete
  12. I, too, disapprove of littering, but having been a kid once (long ago), I can imagine the fun you had flinging the candy wrappers out of the window! Great story. What happened next? Don't make us wait....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you SL: please see my response to Anon 12:07 re. littering, immediately above. RD

      Delete
  13. If I may venture a definition of honky tonk. well honky has to do with geese --tonk was a piano company enuf said.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I would have to agree with MD - Rehoboth is dreadful.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hello Reggie,
    I am enjoying this family story and will now be looking forward to the grande finale. I think that my sympathies are with your Mother and I would have sent Martha packing as well especially as she had cajoled you children into assisting in her deception!
    I do like the fact that despite everything your mother made sure that Marta was paid three months wages. That says a lot about her.
    Like Jane and Lance, I also do not know the meaning of 'honky tonk' but your description makes it easy to picture what such a word encompasses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Kirk Dale, thank you for your comment. Although MD could be rather gruff at times, and wasn't exactly what I consider maternal, or cuddly, she was an honorable person and had a high degree of her sense of responsibility (and forgiveness) for those less fortunate than she. RD

      Delete
    2. PS, see below for the ultimate and most-amusing definition of "honky-tonk!"

      Delete
  16. So when are you going to give up your day job and become a full time author? I would buy all of your books and have the librarians I know buy them for their libraries. You would be a best seller in no time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Emmelieigh504, you make me blush...with pleasure! How kind of you to let me know you enjoy my scribbles. Reggie

      Delete
  17. It seems all Eastern Seaboard, beachie, shore-line, boardwalk venues can lean towards the cheesy, kitschy and tacky. We have visited Rehoboth several times, first braving the journey across the Bay Bridge, then staying with friends in the most lovely neighborhood of Henlopen Acres. Nothing cheesy here and only a bike's ride away from the beach.

    best,
    teaorwine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello TOW: Yes, as you know and I learned later when visiting RB in my twenties, there are lovely neighborhoods there and it is not all boardwalk and sunburnt rednecks, as MD saw it as. RD

      Delete
  18. I first heard the term 'honky-tonk' many years ago when my grandmother made a disdainful reference to Daytona Beach. There's obviously something about that term that gives wee lads visions of delicious adventure.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Well now....you've managed to spoil us all. Surely, you don't think for one minute that we'll be satisfied with the final installment of this little ditty, do you?

    I hope you have a whole treasure trove of family stories you can recall and present to us in tortuous installments, if need be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Gail, for your comment and encouragement. There are a few Darling Family Stories in the arsenal still, that I look forward to sharing with my readers, but none I am afraid as delicious as this one... Reggie

      Delete
  20. As previously suggested, have you given serious thought to becoming an author of personal adventures and stories? You already have written a vast collection that could result in a charming book. Your writing is so visually descriptive and wonderfully entertaining. Thank you for delighting your readers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Anon, for your encouragement and appreciation. Reggie

      Delete
  21. Reggie, you are the world's best storyteller! I laughed outloud when I read the part about how thrilled you were to be going to the saltwater taffy boardwalk and beach AND about you being a joyous litterbug.

    I can't wait for part four, but this is definitely my favorite of the series. I can see a sweet, but naughty, little boy enjoying himself immensely.

    Loved every word.

    Elizabeth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Elizabeth, thank you for your comment and encouragement. I am so glad you found my little shenanigans amusing. Reggie

      Delete
  22. I can't wait to hear how it all ends. Once again, you've kept us riveted!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I remember that daytrip to Rehoboth with great fondness. It was a great adventure tinged with illicit pleasure...

    Your sister,
    Hermione

    ReplyDelete
  24. I agree more Darling family stoires ...did you ever go to Neverland Reggie?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello SMR -- no, I never made it to Neverland, at least not the one Michael Jackson creepily built in California. I don't recall if there was a ride on the boardwalk with that name at RB, either... Reggie

      Delete
    2. I thought you would get my Peter Pan reference,..

      they were called Darling werent they?

      Delete
  25. Well, for the first (and quite probably the last) time, my good guess is that, between Reggie and all his other readers, I'm by FAR the most qualified to answer what seems to be The Question of T he Day: "What does 'honkytonk' mean?". In explanation of my undeniable expertise, I should emphasize that all members of both sides of my family have been born and raised, since the 18th century, in the same, small, northeastern, Tennessee mountain county....so, I know whereof I speak.

    To answer Today's Question somewhat obliquely, let me provide you with the lyrics to three revelatory and less than entirely elegant songs, all of which deal directly with honkytonk men, honkeytonk women, and honkytonkin' en generale:

    " 'Cause I'm a honky tonk man and I can't seem to stop
    I love to give the girls a whirl to the music of an old juke box
    But when my money's all gone, I'm on the telephone singing
    Hey, hey, mama can your daddy come home

    A pretty little girl and a jug of wine
    Well that's what it takes to make a honky tonk time
    With the juke box moaning those honky tonk sounds
    I can't wait to lay my money down..." (Dwight Yokum, 1984)

    "So turn that Jukebox way up high
    And fill my glass up while Icry
    I've lost ev'rything in this world
    And now I'm a Honky Tonk girl.

    I just can't make a right with all of my wrongs
    Ev'ry ev'ning of my life seems so long
    I'm sorry and ashamed for all these things you see
    But losin' him has made a fool of me...." (Loretta Lynn, 1965)

    "I met a gin soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis,
    She tried to take me upstairs for a ride.
    She had to heave me right across her shoulder
    'Cause I just can't seem to drink you off my mind.

    It's them honky tonk women ..." (The Rolling Stones...timeless)

    I am a bit surprised that so many of your British readers are completely unfamiliar with the term "honkytonk". What in the world did they think Mick Jagger was singing about?

    Of course (and I kid you not), when I was a very young and animal-obsessed child, my favorite Anglican hymns, which Ialways LOVED in church, were "Oh, Thou Kingly Turtle" and "All Hail Thou, Holy Parakeet". It was a real let-down when, in my adolescence, I realized the title was "Oh, Thou King Eternal" and first came across the word "paraclete".

    In any case, everyone should now have a fairly firm grasp of what "honkytonk" suggests and why the author's mother didn't approve of such for her children.

    Level Best as Ever,

    David Terry
    www.davidterryart.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you David Terry for one of the most brilliant and amusing comments, EVER! From the lyrics of heartbroken C&W, through strutting R&R, and then the mangled ones of the hymnal, you had my sides splitting! I am indebteded (as are my lucky fellow readers) to you sir, for once-and-for-all definitively defining "honky-tonk!" With regards, Reggie

      Delete
    2. PS, one of my favorite mangled hymn names as a child was "Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear." RD

      Delete
  26. I'm enjoying this story very much, Reggie. As I visualize it, it has all the elements of a pilot for a great TV drama series. I think we need to get Marta back for a full season!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I have visited RB once so far in my life. As a youngster okay teen, I rode in the dark of night from the city of brotherly love to RB with my relatives to spend the night or was it weekend I do not recall. I ate Scrapple for the first time in a restaurant-- a short walk I think it was from the cottage. The most amazing thing -- I entered a tee shirt shop pondered the hundreds of iron on selections , once my decision was made, a red shirt with the white album image of John Lennon may he RIP, I turned to a young man working there to place my order --- I knew this guy !!!! David I said , OMG!!!!I am from Florida and worked with this fellow( in a bakery thru HS) and attended HS with his sister!!!! This here may be a big planet but it is a small small world after all. In conclusion, the 70s RB fuzzy but fond recollections. may others enjoy whatever it has to offer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Anon 1:47 -- Thank you for your comment, and what a terrific story! I revisited RB in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and loved it. Reggie

      Delete
  28. P.S. I forgot to add that I thoroughly approve of your mother's good-sense (not to mention delicacy) in referring to RB as "honkytonk", rather than making direct reference to the actual people themselves...i.e. "low class", "trashy", etcetera. Most parents would, unfortunately, do the latter.

    When we were young, my two brothers and I were continually frustrated, on a regular basis when we wanted to go somewhere/place, and our mother told us no....inevitably and flatly saying "Well...they just DO things differently than we do. I don't think it'd be appropriate for us to go." (at which point, we always bristled and chafed at the "us"...as if we'd intended to take our MOTHER with us?). She never directly criticized any single person or group (not a bad habit to teach a group of rowdy boys), nor did she ever say (and this was particularly frustrating) whether the inappropriateness would lie in the place itself, the people, or us. Visiting was just....existentially "inappropriate"....end of story.
    My impression is that your mother, like mine (who arrives here this morning for a visit, while my French in-laws are already here for a 3 week visit) was intent on raising children who had, if nothing else, good manners which were equally directed towards everyone from the garbage-collector to the bishop.

    My mother was (is, perhaps; I wouldn't know, since I'm a bit past the schooling age) fond of paraphrasing Senator Langhorne by declaring "Etiquette is for people who don't already have manners".

    In any case, your mother sounds wise.

    Level best as Ever,

    david Terry
    www.davidterryart.com

    ReplyDelete
  29. Reggie Darling, I adore you! You are such a good writer. What really impresses me is that you can remember this stuff and pull it forth with some cohesion. One of my favorite movies of all time is "Secondhand Lions," because it reminds me of being a kid and feeling, as I observed adults (and the vast difference between things they say, and the things they do) that somehow I had been born into the wrong family at best, or at worst, been deposited on some kind of alien planet. If you haven't seen it, you would probably like it. Funny, and so much to relate to.

    ReplyDelete

Please do comment! I welcome and encourage them, and enjoy the dialogue.

Related Posts with Thumbnails