By Trudy A. Martinez
Peg meets Don outside when he gets off work. She tells him what is transpiring. And she tells him, “Nellie is pregnant with her first baby.”
Instead of allowing her to finish her ranting, Don butts in. saying, “Terry has a warrant out for his arrest”. Don takes a deep breath and then continues, “He did not spend the night at the camp; he took off.” Again he takes a deep breath, “He didn’t leave alone.” He hesitates momentarily. “He was with a 16 years old girl,” he blurts out quickly. “They left for parts unknown according to camp officials”, he explains.
“Her daddy has his gun in hand, thinking there is going to be a shotgun wedding. If her daddy catches up with Terry before the sheriff,” Don says rubbing his chin, “You may be planning a funeral.” Don says under his breath, “I pray he does not kill him.”
Don and Peg decide: Don will go out looking for Terry. When he finds him, he will contact Peg. They pay the rent for the month. And they shop for groceries, purchasing plenty of food to stock them for the month. Then, he says, “We can decide what to do next when that time comes.”
Don sets out in Peg’s car the next morning, leaving the convertible for the women, as it is more comfortable.
Weeks go by without word. They work some when work is available. Nellie and Peggy decide to take a walk down to the river. Peggy looks around. They are alone. She decides to live dangerously. She strips down to her underwear. “Come on Nellie; join me in the water, “Peggy says.
“I don’ts want to drown!” Nellie exclaims.
“Come on! You won’t drown,” Peg reassures her.
Nellie shakes her head no and tells her, “No! I don’ts swim.”
Peggy jumps in. “Come on Nellie, it is not deep. Join me.”
“No!” Nellie replies firmly.
Nellie remembers when Pa tries to teach her to swim. It still terrifies her when she thinks of it. Pa picks her up and throws her in the river just as he does with all the others kids. He says, “Kick your feet and paddle your arms. That will keep you afloat.”
Nevertheless Nellie goes under. She panics. She does not kick. She does not paddle. She sinks to the bottom. Nellie allows fear to get the best of her and does not do as she is told.
Pa screams at her, “Kick, paddle!” All the while, Pa is taking off his clothes. Then he jumps in to save her. Since then, Nellie panics at the mere sight of water.
Peggy splashes the water up on the bank where Nellie is sitting. She screams and jumps up. “Don’t”, she cries out. “I am scared of da wat’r!”
In the meantime, Don catches up with Terry in San Diego. He is working at the shipyards. He tries to join the service, but does not pass the physical. They rate him a 4F, meaning he is not fit for duty. The young girl is with him.
Don says to Terry as soon as he can get him alone, “There is a warrant out for your arrest.” He adds,”Don’t you have a lick of sense, man?” Don tells him, “It can be quite serious since you crossed the state line with her.” He adds, “You need to lose her! Now! Put her on a bus heading back to her father,” he tells him. “You’re crazy to keep her with you anymore.”
Terry ignores Don’s pleas.
“You are a married man, Terry. You are not single! You cannot marry her. Besides,” he adds, “Her daddy’s going to kill you. Ditch her. Cut your losses, before you are arrested.”
Terry ignores him.
When the girl comes in the room, she starts hanging all over Terry.
Don stands up to leave, telling him, “I will see you later. Think about what I said, Terry”.
Don finds a phone and calls the property owner back where the girls are staying and leaves a message for Peggy to call him back at the payphone at 7:00 o’clock; he will be waiting for her call.
When Peggy calls back, he tells her where they are and that the girl is still here with Terry and that he will be working on getting the girl on a bus heading back to her father.
“In the meantime, Peggy, you and Nellie pack up and head out here,” he says. “Call me every night at 7:00 o’clock to let me know where you are. I love you and take care with your driving.”
Peggy and Nellie set out in Don’s car.
(This is a picture of Don’s car. Nellie is sitting in the front. That is Don. The picture is taken before this trip they are on now.)
When they leave, the top is down, allowing the heat from the sun’s rays to warm their bodies. Later however, a chilly breeze comes up, requiring them to halt to keep from freezing. Both Nellie and Peggy try to get the top up, but, the top will not budge. They lack the strength to force it. Anxious as they are to reach their destination, they decide to continue driving all night, if need be, regardless of the weather.
To keep warm, they retrieve Nellie’s quilts from the trunk. Laying one quilt over their lap and wrapping another around their head and shoulders like a cape, they continue on their way.
The highlight of their trip takes place outside of San Diego on a hill or mountain with an elevation of 6,000 ft. It is freezing cold. It is Middle-of-the-night. The automobile brakes go out. Peg (as stubborn as she is) is determined to make it down that hill, brakes or not.
Therefore, she takes the remainder of Nellie’s quilts and throws them over Nellie’s head. Peggy says, “Keep your head down!” Then, Peggy takes off down the mountain without any brakes.
At the bottom of the hill, Peggy pulls into a gas station for brake fluid and directions to the address Don gave her.
The attendant tells her,” it is going to take more than just fluid, Miss. There is a bad leak. The liquid is just going right through.” He wipes his greasy hands on a rag. Then he continues, “I will not be able to get a new hose line until morning after the parts house opens.” He points to the motel, “I recommend you stay at the motel next door until then.”
Peg and Nellie grab their luggage out of the automobile. “See you tomorrow then,” Peg says.
They walk to the motel. They check in. They rent one room, one bed which they will share. They hit the rack, exhausted.
The next morning after a cup of coffee, they check on the repair of the automobile. “Your automobile is ready,” the attendant reports.
“Thank you,” Peg says. “I really appreciate your quick work on my vehicle. We really need to get moving.” They pay for the repairs. And with the directions in hand, they hit the road again. It is not far to their destination.
Don is sitting on the stoop drinking his morning coffee when they drive up. “Have you had breakfast?” He asks.
“No, we have not yet eaten,” Peggy answers.
Nellie shakes her head to the left and right.
“There is a nice café just around the corner,” Don says. “Wait here, I’ll grab my wallet and treat you to a nice hot breakfast.” Don goes inside.
Don tells Terry, “The girls are here.” He grabs his wallet and hat. “Now,” he says, “Take that girl to the bus station as soon as I leave with Peggy and Nellie.”
“Okay!” Terry exclaims. “She’ll be out of here when you get back.”
The girl puts up a fight and insists she is not leaving. Terry gets her bags, picks her up, and takes her to the bus station and leaves. He arrives back at the apartment shortly before the others return from breakfast.
Within an hour after Nellie and Peggy arrive back at the apartment, there is a knock on the door. Don answers the door. “Is Terry here?” A police officer asks.
“Whose there?” Peggy calls out to Don who had gone to answer the door.
“It is the police. They are looking for Terry. They are here to arrest him”, Don says, “The police have a warrant. Peggy, tell your brother to get his rear-end out here.”
“Okay, will do.” Peggy goes to the bedroom where Terry is laying down. “Get your lazy butt up”, she says, “You’ve got visitors that insist on seeing you now”! She exclaims.
When Terry comes out, the police arrest him on the spot, handcuff him and place him in the back seat of the police car.
Terry learns the girl called her father from the bus depot, telling him Terry’s whereabouts. Her father notifies the police of Terry’s location. Charges are filed. Consequently, the San Diego Police Department issues a warrant for Terry’s arrest.
Nellie and Peggy go to Terry’s arraignment. After hearing Terry’s statement and seeing Nellie’s condition, the Judge makes a decision to release Terry into Nellie’s custody.
The Judge says to Nellie, “If this man so much as looks at another woman, Nellie, you are ordered to contact me personally. Do you understand?” He says.
“He will go to jail quicker than you can snap your fingers. This is the condition for his release to you.” The Judge says, “He is to tow the mark. Do you understand?” He again asks Nellie.
Nellie answers, “Yes.”
“Nellie, you are to tie him to your apron strings. He is to do his duty as a husband and father or he will spend the next 5 to 10 years in jail. Do you understand, Terry?” The Judge stares at Terry.
Terry hangs his head down, Lifts it back up and replies, “Yes, Your Honor, I understand and will abide by your ruling.”
The Judge hit his gavel and exclaims, “Next case!”