(Also submitted to Magpie 97 and ABC Wednesday.)
"X" is for "Xanax"
Since New Year’s eve is close upon us, my resolution is to tell the story of how I was once living on a Pacific isle with Marilyn Monroe.
How many bloggers can make that claim? :-)
I never thought of Norma Jeane Baker – which is what her real name was – as sexy.
She had such an incredibly miserable childhood, which later became a miserable adulthood, that I found I could feel only compassion and sympathy for her.
(Yes, she spelled it “Jeane,” with one “n.”)
As a child, she was bounced around from orphanage to various depressing foster homes and back again; her mother, Gladys, was, as the saying goes, mentally unstable. It might seem that she would have been a candidate for the drug Xanax, but it didn't exist at that time. (I had to work an "x" in here somewhere.)
When Norma Jeane was six, living with foster parents, Gladys showed up and insisted on taking her away. Since she was shouting and acting unhinged, the foster parents refused to turn Norma Jeane over to her.
Gladys ran into the house, stuffed the screaming kid into a duffel bag, zipped it up and tried to run away with her. The bag split open and the child fell to the ground.
In her autobiography, Norma Jeane wrote that it was not long after this that her mother, "screaming and laughing," was forcibly removed to the state hospital. All this pretty well demolished anything resembling a chance at a normal life for young Norma Jeane.
Somehow the girl lived through this dismal childhood; here she is getting ready to enter Van Nuys High School.
It was there that she met Jim Dougherty. They were married in ’42.
Quick segue to an entirely different story.
At about this time, soon after Pearl Harbor, young Berowne went down and patriotically enlisted, primarily because he had to. :-)
My boot camp was on Catalina Island, which had been transformed from a vacation paradise off the Southern California coast to a huge wartime training camp.
Turned out, Jim Dougherty had become a section leader there, training the boots, and I was one of the boots. He lived on the base with his wife, a very young Norma Jeane Dougherty.
There you have it: Marilyn Monroe and I were together on a Pacific island. Note her big smile: she’s possibly saying, “Wow! I’m going to be with Berowne on this Pacific isle!”
But then again, maybe not. :-)
She later, after Dougherty left, got into war work back on the mainland, spraying airplane parts with fire retardant. Long story short, a “Yank” magazine photographer took her picture; as a result she ultimately wound up with a 20th-Century Fox film contract at an impressive $125 a week.
Which was a helluva lot more than I was making at the time. :-)
1 year ago