~ Once Upon a Time…….



………and it all began with a question.  

 It had been a long day and I was tired to begin with, but I had promised to take some friends to the Buena Vista Hotel where there was a beauty pageant being held.  They gave me a ticket and I accompanied them to the show.  I was seated apart from them, about seven rows back from the stage.  All of the contestants were pretty…, all but one, and as far as I was concerned, she was just the most beautiful girl there that night.

GMB 2a

  I couldn’t take my eyes from her.  It must have been pretty obvious, because after a while, as she walked across the stage, she looked at me and smiled.  I teased myself into thinking that such a beautiful girl could be possibly interested in me.  Nah !  I was dreaming again. 

After a while I found myself tired of the whole evening and, despite that unbelievably beautiful creature, I was leaving.  I went up to the piano bar and told the pianist that if the guys were looking for me I would be out on the beach.  I stopped at the bar and grabbed a coke, went across the walkway and down to the car where I deposited my shoes, and then headed for the beach.  I’d started to walk up the beach toward fishing piers which were one of my favorite places to sit, rest, and contemplate life and then is when it came…….

“Hey, G.I., would y’all mind if I walk with you?”

This is where it all began.  I turned and was face-to-face with that incredibly beautiful girl from the contest.  My first reaction was total confusion and disbelief as I thought she should still be back there in the contest.  My second thoughts were: Wow ! She’s even more beautiful than I first thought !

“I don’t mind if you don’t mind walking with a complete stranger, ….but aren’t you supposed to be in that contest at the hotel, Gayle?”

“Uhh, you know my name ?”

“Yeah, it was in the program with your picture.”

“Oh, well then that makes us even, Paul.”

Now it was my turn to be surprised and I gave her a sideways glance.

“They told me at the bar when I asked about you.”

As the evening continued, we walked out on the pier and sat at the end, dangling our legs over the water.  Conversation wound itself around Mississippi, Indiana, school, the Air Force, friends, and such other safe topics as we slowly began to become acquainted.  She was sweet and easy to be with and spoke with a soft, slow southern accent that totally bewitched me.  I didn’t want her to stop talking. 

The evening ended with a slow walk back up the beach and across to her car.  She gave me her phone number.  I was at a loss to give her mine as it was a pay phone in the squadron orderly room.  She understood. 

Rather than a kiss good night, (I thought that would be much too forward), I took her hand and kissed it, asking if we could meet again.  She told me that could be a definite possibility and I should call her soon. 

 Well, that’s how it all started, fifty-three years ago tonight, on a soft southern evening when a young man’s mind turned to springtime and flowers, and romance. 

Ahh….!  The memories are still sweet …………………..









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