AN OCTOBER BIRTHDAY OCTOBER 6, 2014
In the past, I have mentioned my oldest living friend, and that would be Annie. A couple of days ago she passed another milestone — once again she caught up to me. She is now 96, and that just makes life worth living. She caught up to me, and every year when I have my birthday in April so that I am then older than she, it just drives her crazy. She absolutely hates it when I am the elder. Then she is whining around that she doesn’t think she will make it to the next one. She is much stronger than I, so is bound to be hanging around for several more years.
We met years ago – 80 give or take — playing softball for the Orange Lionettes, when we were “sweet sixteen.” She was tall and strong, and was one of our star home run hitters. She played outfield. She could track down and catch those flies the other team would hit her way. On the other hand, I was lucky to weigh in at around 110, but I could at least bunt and scamper to first base safely. I was the catcher. Well, we were world champions, after all.
It turned out that through our 40’s and 50’s, we were both in the saloon business. I had those bars in San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Beach; and there was Annie in the high rent district in Paradise at Waikiki just off Kalakaua Ave. in Hawaii with her own little 3-story hotel, only 10 rooms, but what came with them was where the action was. On the ground floor, instead of a desk to welcome guests for the hotel, there was a great little bar which opened late morning and went on into the wee small hours — that was THE LITTLE DIPPER. Second floor, the hotel rooms, then the third floor was everyone’s favorite. A night club, THE CLOUDS, (sound of trumpets right here.)
The Clouds was so great. Entertainment from the Mainland, celebrities in the audience. You might rub elbows with Doris Duke, or Barbara Hutton, or Frank Sinatra.
Now, just to name a few — the entertainers that I can recall on short notice — Maya Angelou was on the night club circuit, played piano and sang, but she didn’t look anywhere near like later in life when she really became famous, and dressed, and no handkerchief around her head. Among others: Lenny Bruce, Billy Eckstein, Della Reese, Anita O’Day, Jerry Sothern, June Christy, Ann Weldon, Mary Ann McCall, Dick Haymes, Mel Torme (remember him? – the Velvet Fog?) Why do I ask? You are all saying – never heard of that one, or that one —. Oh well.
There was also Rusty Warren appearing there frequently, with her Knockers Up! Routine when she would have all the ladies in the audience marching around in a long line through the place with their boobs held high. Making a statement.
Every chance I had I would hop a Pan Am flight to Honolulu to see how friend Annie was doing, and she would have me tending bar at the service bar. I was in 7th Heaven up in Annie’s Clouds behind the bar.
During the day, we would schlep over to the Halekulani Hotel next to the Royal Hawaiian, languish around on the beach for awhile, have a bite of lunch, then at cocktail hour, we would plant ourselves on the Terrace where those beautiful, stately Chinese ladies in their Chinese silk gowns from neck to toe, would serve us some exotic cocktail.
I’ll leave us there on the Terrace because I’ve got to change the ending of this Birthday tale.
Dear Annie is not celebrating her 96th this year. Four or five days before her beeg day, October 4th, she had to go see her doctor — she was unable to eat or drink (!) anything because her mouth and lips were all swollen up — a terrible mess, but no upset tummy, thank goodness. Doctor does not know what she has – it could be bite of some sort. She was given Rx to reduce swelling, sent her home, and was ordered to stay home, like under quarantine, no visitors for about 10 days.
So this was not a very nice thing to happen to Annie. There she is stuck there, leaving all her friends to fend for themselves, to wait till she is out of isolation. She will then make up for lost time.
I talked to her a couple of hours ago, and we reminisced about the Clouds, and I didn’t mention this story. She had 29 birthday phone calls from all over. London, New York, Hawaii, Spain, Holland.
So, Annie, this is my way to wish you another year of wondering if you are “going to make it” to catch up with me. Maybe we should combine our 2 days and set a date in the middle — a day, say, in the middle of June.
MELITAS FORSTER MONDAYS WITH MELITAS