Monday, July 28, 2014


        I need to back up a bit to early December, 1946. Clear the Track, the eagerly anticipated Princeton Triangle Show, was shaping up very well. The cast was excited and confident the show would be well received. 
        Because there were so many quick costume changes, we needed more than one dress  rehearsal. The show opened in Princeton on Saturday, December 14. With a matinee and an evening performance at McCarter Theater. I got Margie a ticket for the evening performance,  and she absolutely loved it! Both audiences instantly rose to their feet for boisterous standing ovations at the end. Margie accompanied me to the opening night party hosted by the Triangle Club for the cast and everyone connected with the show, and their friends and family members.
        In October the Nassoons had been entranced by the Triangle veterans’ enticing tales of THE TOUR. We could not imagine how much fun it would be in the various cities where we would be performing, they told us. In addition to the exhilaration of appearing before wildly enthusiastic audiences of alumni and friends, we would be royally entertained everywhere, with fantastic meals and parties, music and dancing, and GIRLS! It sounded wonderful!
        Initially I had been looking forward to the tour as much as anyone, but with my growing fondness for Margie my passion for the tour was waning proportionately. We had a couple more dates before the Triangle Show went on the road. Our first stop was Philadelphia on December 23. After a two-day recess for Christmas we continued the rest of the tour. What I had thought would be a wonderful way to spend a winter break now meant being away from Margie while she was home on vacation from Wellesley College. I knew I would miss her, but I had not realized how much. The old adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder was certainly true in my case. I had a good time and I loved the performances, but the accompanying social life was not nearly so much fun as I had thought it would be. I found myself comparing every girl I met with Margie, and that made me miss her all the more. I hoped she was missing me as well, but at that point I had no reason to assume she felt as strongly about me as I was beginning to feel about her. I knew she was dating other men who were vying for her affection. My one advantage was that she loved the Nassoons! And she always enjoyed our dates.
        Team Triangle returned to Princeton on January 4 and that night I took Margie to dinner and a movie. The next night we repeated the pattern. The following day she left for Wellesley, and for me it was back to the books with a vengeance, and to my senior thesis, which was on the unionization of professional baseball. My research necessitated my traveling to several different cities, including a three-day visit to Boston. While there I saw Margie every evening.
        In early February, at the end of her exam period, Margie came home for a few days with one of her attractive Wellesley friends, Lee Emory. The two of them attended a Nassau rehearsal, after which we all went to the Nassau Inn, affectionately known as "the Nass," for dinner and some serenading by the Nassoons. Much to my regret, I had to leave on another research trip the next day! Margie was still home when I returned, though her friend had already left. I had dinner with Margie and her parents that evening, and as we later said good night, Margie told me she was feeling more “sure” about me. That was heavenly music to my ears!
        The next night Margie was my guest for dinner at the University Cottage Club, the “eating Club” to which I belonged. Afterwards we played bridge with our close friends Barb and John Leonard. John and I had been in the V-12 program together and were always improvising at the piano. We were each other’s favorite four-hand piano partner. Johnny had also sung in the “V-12 Octet” that I directed. He and Barb were two of the Nassoons’ most enthusiastic fans, and the four of us always had great fun together.
Ed Knetzger, my fellow Nassoon
and classmate
        Later in February Margie came home for another weekend, this time with her friend Nancy MacKinnon, a tall, vivacious blonde, for whom I had lined up my fellow Nassoon and classmate Ed Knetzger as her escort for the weekend. Sharing the same sense of humor, Nancy and Ed  bonded instantly and the four of us had a hilarious weekend, beginning with a worrisome but in retrospect amusing incident on the first night.
        Here’s what happened. Margie’s folks lived in a large stucco and wood-framed house on the northeast corner of Prospect Avenue and Broadmead, just two long blocks below the last eating club on Prospect. It was one of many University owned faculty houses in that part of the Borough of Princeton. It was snowing hard when Ed and I walked there to pick up Margie and Nancy and walk back with them up Prospect Avenue to the Princeton Quadrangle Club for dinner. Ed was then President of "Quad." After that we then walked across campus to McCarter Theater, where the Clear the Track cast were scheduled to rehearse for a  “command” performance on Alumni Day. The two Wellesley girls enjoyed the rehearsal almost as much as Margie had enjoyed the opening night performance!
        After the rehearsal we stopped in the nearby and very crowded Student Sandwich Shop for a late night snack, before making the long trek back to 106 Broadmead. We didn’t mind slushing our way through the snow at all. Margie and I were moving along at a slower pace than our friends, enjoying ourselves so much that when we reached Prospect Avenue, we suddenly noticed that somewhere along the way we had become separated from Ed and Nancy, who were nowhere to be seen. As it was now very late, Margie felt we should continue on home, thinking that Ed and Nancy were probably already there.
        But when we arrived home, the front porch light was on, the door was locked, and Margie’s folks had retired for the night. Margie had her key, so we let ourselves in and made ourselves comfortable, while we waited for our two companions, expecting them to arrive at any moment. But they didn’t. As we waited, and waited, and waited, we were becoming more and more anxious, fearing there had been a mishap, perhaps a fall or something like that.
        Or could they be lost, we wondered? How could they, when the house was right on Prospect Avenue? Prospect Avenue! The light dawned instantly on both of us. “The Hittis!” we exclaimed in unison. Professor Philip Khuri Hitti and his wife lived in an identical house on the corresponding corner of Fitzrandolph and Prospect, one block up the street!
        “I’ll be right back,” I said to Margie, as I threw on my coat and dashed out the door. I ran the whole way, and sure enough, huddled together on the bench on the Hittis’ front porch and chatting merrily through chattering teeth, were our two friends. They were not totally oblivious to the time. “Oh, hello,” they said cheerily, as I came puffing up the sidewalk. “Where have you been? We’ve been here over an hour.”
        “Margie and I were waiting for you at her parents’ house!”
        “Isn’t this her parents’ house?”
        “No, this is the Hittis’ house! This is Fitzrandolph.”
        “No wonder we couldn’t get in!”
        The three of us walked back to 106 Broadmead, where a much relieved Margie greeted her guest with a hug, while casting a puzzled look at Ed. The undaunted Nassoon’s good humor transcended his embarrassment: “Nancy and I were having a great conversation until Dick showed up!”
        Ed and I had plenty to talk about on the way to our respective dorms. The rest of the weekend flew by much too swiftly and without any other hitch. What a time we had had, and how sad we were to say good-bye to our Wellesley girls at the train station!
        On the way back to Boston Margie and Nancy, to the wonderment and amusement of the nearby passengers, were gleefully composing and singing their own words to the tune of  “As I Remember You,” a favorite with Nassoon audiences, written by my talented classmate John Macfadyen. Here in Margie’s own handwriting is their summary of THE weekend:


        In her accompanying letter Margie let me know in her beautiful way, that she was now "sure"! As for me, I was, to use the familiar expression, head over heels in love with the sweetheart of the Nassoons.

        To be continued. . .

No comments:

Post a Comment