MIDNIGHT FERRY TO ANGEL ISLAND
In June 1943, Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay was a temporary billet for men of the 40th Bomb Group who were en route from Panama to an unannounced destination in the States. After 48 hours on the isolated island, all personnel were given a one-day pass to visit San Francisco. It was a welcome break since most of the men had served two years or more in Puerto Rico, Central and South America, Panama, or on a Galapagos Island. They boarded ferry boats at Angel Island after being warned to return to the island that evening, and that the last ferry left the city at midnight. After a day of sightseeing, shopping, and a generous sampling of food and drink in local bistros, men began to assemble at the ferry before midnight.
Eventually, several of the 45th Squadron officers collected in the pier waiting room. The group included fun-loving Captains Eddie Glass and Alex Zamry. Both bachelors were considered to be Squadron Lotharios. They were in a mellow mood, and amused us with detailed accounts of their experiences while visiting many San Francisco bars.
Shortly before sailing time, a taxi arrived at the pier with another 45th Squadron officer. This character was a bachelor and a loner, but this time he was not alone. A buxom blond was clinging to his arm as he sheepishly introduced her to us. All we could remember was her nickname -- Bubbles. The two of them sat apart from the group, held hands and ignored the rest of us. The broad, silly grin on the bachelor's flushed face appeared to be painted on because it never changed as the two of them conversed in whispers.
None of us could recall our comrade having a lady friend during the two years we served with him in Puerto Rico and Panama. We also knew him to be a frugal man (some called him a tightwad), who often carried uncashed paychecks and bills of large denomination in his bulging wallet. It seemed as if he used his wallet as a bank depository.
As the ferry pulled into the loading slip, two MPs took positions at the bottom of the ramp. They stood on either side of a sign which read Females Not Permitted on The Angel Island Ferry. We formed a line and passed between the MPs and up the ramp to the ferry's passenger compartment. The last officer to approach the ramp was the smiling bachelor with Bubbles clinging to his arm. One MP told him, "Sir, your lady friend is not allowed to board this ferry." The couple stopped, whispered for a moment, then embraced. Bubbles released the officer's hand and walked back to the waiting room. Our friend wobbled unsteadily up the ramp, took a seat near the rest of us, and immediately fell asleep.
When the ferry pulled away from the slip, Bubbles waved from the enclosed waiting room, but none of us returned her wave. The silly smile remained on the sleeping bachelor's face.
Eddie Glass, Alex Zamry, and others wondered how the bachelor and Bubbles met, and how they could have become so attached to each other in such a short time. Was it love at first sight? We did not think that was the reason, because the bachelor never mentioned Bubbles' name again. Alex Zamry took a more cynical view. He contended that Bubbles probably got a peek at the bachelor's fat wallet and decided to go along for a good time.
* From Ira V. Matthews' Eighty-one War Stories. *