Be careful what you wish for
by Jerry Robinson
With a break from building airplanes at Boeing's plant #2 in Seattle, I wanted to go see my mom on Mother's Day in the city of Roses. It was an innocent event. I needed a ride to Portland in 1943 so I stood on the street corner at 170th and highway 99 near our house in McMicken Heights. SeaTac Airport was still six years from landing planes. It was a lonely corner back then.
My low finances meant a bus was not an option. I thumbed a ride, wishing for a series of hops from south-going travelers. I wasn't on the corner more than 15 minutes when a four-door sedan stopped. I jumped in to join three women. "where ya headed," they asked. "Portland," I said. I sat comfortably in the rear seat next to a woman named Ester. In the front seat, Noreen.
The sedan was driven by "Marge", a woman about 40. The other women were younger, maybe early to mid 30's. I was all of 23.
We motored down 99 through Des Moines-Midway and passed the Spanish Castle. We saw a wide spot in the road that would become Federal Way. Down the highway and around the corner at Fife. The drive-in theatre, shrouded by poplar trees, caught my eye. Then up through the Pacific Avenue arch and further south on 99 towards Ft Lewis.
The ride was mostly uneventful with the women chatting away, not particularly interested in my presence except for some light small talk about whether I was married or not ( I was).
Eventually I warmed up to the ladies' conversation. It wasn't about men or even the politics of the war. It was about clothing, make-up and food. By Olympia they were more curious about me. Did I have a job? Where did I work? How old was I? I explained everything. My honest nature revealed that I also did not have any money, hence the need for a ride.
For that hour and a half I enjoyed their questions. We needed to stop for gas. The attendant hustled out to greet us, giving me a wink! I hopped out to use the restroom and was coming back out when the attendant cornered me by the soft drink machine. "Hey buddy," he asked. "Looks like you cornered the market on the dames,". "Huh", I said, "Whattya mean?". "You got three hookers in that car!," he beamed.
I turned to look and then it hit me. All my early upbringing never taught me about ladies of the night. I'd just never been introduced to that side of life. I was 23, married and working. I married my high school sweetheart. I'd wished for a ride and got potentially more than I wanted.
I decided it was not in my best interests to continue riding along. Marge must have sensed this too. When I got over to her side of the car, she said "this is as far as you go Gerald."
I was "out" and not where I expected to be but it was the best choice for my innocent self. The attendant thought I was crazy but somehow felt pity. He tossed me a couple of bucks and pointed to the bus line shelter where I could wait for the next bus to Portland. He was shaking his head as I trudged across the parking lot.
I made it to Portland, hugged my mom on her special day and never said a word to her or my wife. I learned a lot that day. Be careful what you wish for.
Jerry Robinson (1920 ~ 2014) was the Publisher of Robinson Newspapers beginning with the White Center News in 1952.
Yup...classic Jerry. I knew him briefly. Seems like yesterday. My wife and I would visit his next door neighbor in Burien every 4th of July. Big get together each year. While watching the ocean one morning, a stranger approached me from next door. That was Jerry and we hit it off from that moment. Although our politics differed, we still agreed that we would always disagree. But remain friends.
As i scanned this issue of his newspaper and saw his face next to this article, I knew I missed him again. I also wondered about his son Tim. We, too, became friends at the time. Haven’t heard from him in awhile. We used to raz each other about gardening...who was best at it. He would have liked that the past summer I grew 5 varieties of cantaloupes. He would have replied that “ those were nice cantaloupes “ I bought at Albertsons.
Just sayin... miss them both.