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The following events took place in the ’70s to early ’80s, long before any “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was in place in the military. Being an active lesbian was risking your career, especially for an officer.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon formally certified the 26th Amendment to the US Constitution, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. In response, most states reduced the legal drinking age to 18. New Jersey reduced the drinking age to 18 in 1973.
© 2022 Candy_Kane54
It was a beautiful sunny Saturday in October 1962. It was a warm day with the temperature higher than average. We were enjoying one last day on the beach before the weather started getting cold. I was lying on the beach, watching the waves rolling in and gently breaking on the shore. Mom and Dad were lying on each side of me, Mom reading a book and Dad reading the newspaper. When I looked up in the sky, I saw three jet aircraft flying in a ‘V,’ four double contrails following each plane as they flew so high and slowly across the sky. I pointed up and said, “Look, Dad! See the planes?”
Dad looked up and saw them there. He said, “Looks like B-52s flying a racetrack.”
“What’s a racetrack?”
“That means they’re flying in circles, ready to retaliate if the Soviets launch ICBMs,” Dad answered.
“Do you think they’ll attack us?” I asked, remembering the ‘Duck and Cover’ exercise we just did in class yesterday. It had something to do with missiles in Cuba, but I didn’t really understand all of that.
“Only if they hate us more than they love their children,” Dad said with a sad tone in his voice.
I looked over at Dad, and I caught him brushing a tear from his eye…
I was enjoying my first year at St. Rosalia High School. It was an all-girl Catholic high school, and we had to wear uniforms to school. I didn’t mind the uniforms since they made it easy to dress in the morning for school. Although the current skirt styles were much shorter than our uniforms, I had no problem with the hem below the knee. Mom would never have let me wear short skirts anyway. The whole atmosphere took some getting used to, especially changing rooms for each subject. Still, after five weeks, I had settled into my new routine.
Despite not having any boys in our school, that’s all that the girls would talk about. St. Simon High School, the all-boys Catholic high school, was just a half mile away. The Sisters were constantly patrolling the perimeter of the school grounds to make sure there was no hanky panky going on. I’m sure the Priests were doing the same at St. Simon.
Dad had insisted that I attend St. Rosalia instead of Point Pleasant High School. He was willing to pay the tuition, saying I’d get a better education going there. Even though the bus ride was a little longer to get to school, I didn’t mind. Mom enjoyed making my uniforms and ensuring I was dressed appropriately before catching the bus.
We were in the middle of our math class when there was a knock at the classroom door. When Sister Elizabeth answered the door, there was a brief whispered conversation out in the hall before she came back in. She gave me a sorrowful look and said, “Virginia, you need to go with Sister Mary.”
Sister Mary was the principal, so my first thought was that I was in trouble for something, although I had no idea what it could be. “Yes, Sister,” I said dutifully, closing my book and gathering up my things as I got up and headed for the door, wondering what was happening.
Sister Elizabeth handed me my coat and softly said, “You’ll need this, dear.”
“Thank you, Sister,” I said, taking my coat and heading out into the hallway. Sister Mary stood there, and she had a sad look on her face, too. “Virginia, I need you to come with me.” Seeing the look on my face, she hurriedly assured me, “You’re not in trouble, dear. But there has been an accident.”
“An accident?” I asked as we headed out the door and across the parking lot to Kolbe Hall, where Sister Mary’s office was located.
As we entered the door and headed to her office, Sister Mary said, “The train your father was running collided with another train.”
I was stunned. Dad was an engineer for the Central Railroad of New Jersey, and he drove trains all of the time. He had the daily local drag that ran from Lakehurst to Bridgeton and back. He should have been done with his run since it was early afternoon.
“How’s my father?” I asked as we entered Sister Mary’s office. I noticed a lady was standing there in her coat.
Instead of answering my question, Sister Mary said, “Virginia, this is Mrs. Brown. She will be taking you to the hospital. Your mother is already there.”
“Okay,” I said.
Mrs. Brown said goodbye to Sister Mary, and I followed her out to her car. After we got in, Mrs. Brown said, “We’re going over to Saint Johns Hospital in Lakehurst. I don’t know much more than what your mother told Sister Mary. I’m so sorry, Virginia.”
My heart was in my throat, and my stomach hurt. I had noticed that Sister Mary had avoided trying kaçak iddaa to console me by saying everything would be alright. So I suspected that things were quite dire. I stayed quiet and just looked out my window as Mrs. Brown drove through Point Pleasant, Toms River, and finally, drove into Lakehurst.
It didn’t take too long to get there since the traffic was light. Mrs. Brown drove up to the main entrance of the hospital and parked. We got out, and Mrs. Brown walked with me inside and up to the reception desk. The Sister sitting behind the desk looked up with a questioning look on her face, and Mrs. Brown said, “Sister, this is Virginia Hanratty. Her mother is here with her father, and I was asked to bring her here.”
The Sister flashed a sad look on her face before saying to Mrs. Brown, “Thank you. I’ll take it from here.”
Mrs. Brown turned to me and said, “I’ll be going now, dear. Sister will take care of you now.”
With that, she turned and walked back out to her car. The Sister came out from behind her desk and said, “Virginia, I’m Sister Ruth. Please come with me.”
“Yes, Sister,” I said as I fell in behind her. She led me to the small chapel just off of the lobby. When we went in, I saw my mother kneeling in the front row. She was crying, and I ran up to join her. I kneeled next to her, and when she saw me, she dashed the tears out of her eyes, hugged me tight, and said, “Your father is dead, Ginny.”
Normally, I would have bristled at being called ‘Ginny,’ a diminutive given to me since my mother was also named Virginia. Still, I started crying as what I had feared while coming here had been realized. We cried together until Mom pulled back and said, “We need to pray for your father.”
I dutifully faced the cross before me, crossed myself, and started the prayers I’d been taught to say for the dead. I knew my father was going to heaven because he was a good man, but I think the prayers were meant more for us than for the dead.
I thought about my father as I prayed. I remembered all of the good times we had through the years. Dad had been forty-eight, and Mom had been forty when I was born. I had been a late surprise, almost like when Sarah had borne Isaac so late in her life. My parents had given up on having children since they had tried so hard for years to have a child. So when I did show up, they doted on me since they felt that I had been a gift from God.
Dad had always encouraged me to excel at my schoolwork. He was always willing to explain things to me when I got stuck on anything. If I asked him something that he didn’t know the answer to, he told me so. Dad taught me that it’s okay to admit you don’t know the answer. When I did stump him, he would try to figure it out so he could explain it to me. I loved him for that. He wanted me to make something with my life and be all I could be.
I finished up with an Our Father and a Hail Mary before I crossed myself again. By then, I had calmed down and accepted that Dad was gone. Now it was just Mom and me. We’d get by and move on with our lives.
Months later, the official report of the accident was released by the Federal Railroad Administration. Dad had been absolved of any fault since a signal had failed that should have warned him the track was blocked ahead. Without the signal, there was no way he could stop the train in time as they went around the blind curve and saw that a train was stopped in front of them. Despite the use of signals, the brakeman of the stopped train should have walked back down the track and set out fusees and torpedoes to warn anyone coming along the track. The report stated that he had put out fusees but hadn’t gone far enough to give adequate warning, primarily because of the blind curve.
With the insurance payout and Dad’s Railroad pension, we weren’t hurting for money. The house was free and clear, and Dad had invested wisely. However, Mom never got over losing Dad, and it was as if she had died inside that day, too. She went through the motions of living, but she was never the same again. The bright, vibrant woman who raised me and loved me was no more.
When I had graduated at the top of my class from St. Rosalia in 1971, I decided to continue my education at the All-Woman Georgian Court College. It was run by the Sisters of Mercy in nearby Lakewood, only ten miles away. I had been awarded a modest scholarship to attend Georgian Court College by graduating at the top of my class. While appreciated, I hadn’t really needed it since I could afford the tuition. I could live at home while attending classes and didn’t need to pay room and board to stay in the dormitory.
Since Dad’s death, Mom had never fully recovered, and I spent my time taking care of her and keeping up the house. She was in a constant state of depression, sleeping all of the time and weeping when she was up and about. I was at my wit’s end, trying to get her to seek help for her depression. She would just shrug off my attempts and spend a lot of time praying when she got out of bed. I spent a lot of time praying in the chapel at kaçak bahis school, asking God to make my Mom better.
By the time I started my junior year, Mom was bedridden. I had to hire a visiting nurse to look after her while I was at school, and the stress caused me to get my first grade less than an A since I started high school seven years ago. I got an A- in philosophy, and I went home and cried because I was so ashamed of myself for letting things get to me.
If I were being honest with myself, I wouldn’t blame my emotional turmoil only on my mother’s health. Truth be told, I was working through my attraction to women. Unlike my high school and college friends, who were always lusting after boys, I was lusting after girls. I never really looked at a boy and felt anything, not that I ever got a lot of chances since I went to all-girl schools. However, I couldn’t say the same when it came to girls.
Showering after gym class was always torture because I had feelings I was unfamiliar with when I saw the other girls naked in the shower and locker room. My heart would clench, and my breath would catch when that happened, and I had to fight to pretend that nothing was going on. I would try to look out of the corner of my eye, admiring the curve of a breast or the taut core of a girl as they walked by. There were times when I thought I caught another girl doing the same to me, but I was always too scared to follow through and do anything about it.
When I heard the other girls talking about boys and how they felt about them, I realized that I had those same feelings, but toward girls instead of boys. I knew the feelings I had were wrong by all of the teachings of the Church, but I couldn’t quash them, no matter how hard or long I prayed about it. I tried to talk to Mom about it once. When I did, she went into a tirade about how homosexuality was ruining the country. I never tried again to bring the subject up with her.
Three weeks ago, Mom suffered a setback and had to be admitted to the hospital. I spent as much time with her as I could, only leaving her side to attend classes and go home at night to get a few hours of fitful sleep. She became non-communicative and would only speak when the priest came in to pray with her. Despite the doctor’s and nurses’ best efforts, Mom contracted pneumonia and had to have oxygen.
I stood there next to her bed, holding her hand as she struggled to breathe. She had refused to be intubated, and I respected her wishes on that. With all of the machines hooked up to her, beeping and buzzing from time to time, it wasn’t totally quiet. The doctor told me that Mom wasn’t long for the world and that there wasn’t any more he could do for her since she refused to help him save herself.
I looked down upon the frail old woman lying there, wondering what had happened to the vibrant, smiling woman I had known when I was a child. She had been such a happy person, and I know she loved me with every fiber of her being. Now, there was just a husk of the woman I knew as Mom lying there. She struggled to pull in one more breath, and I willed her to continue. Then, with a sigh, as though she was suddenly able to relax and the weight of the world had been taken off of her shoulders, she let out her breath. The steady beep of the monitor suddenly became a continuous tone as I teared up and pled, “Mom! No! Breathe, Mom. Please.”
The nurse rushed in and checked to see what had happened. I let go of Mom’s hand and stepped back to give the nurse room to work. The doctor hurried in and checked on Mom before he turned to me and said gently, “Your mother is gone, Virginia.”
I already knew that but thanked him anyway. Mom had passed, and I was now left all alone. Now I would need to get everything ready for the funeral. I had already planned for this day, so the Van Hise and Callagan Funeral Home was prepared to receive her body. The service at St. Peters would need to be scheduled now, and the plot next to Dad at White Lawn Cemetery, just three blocks from home, would be prepared to receive the coffin.
I went down to the chapel and prayed for Mom. The priest stopped in for a minute, and I prayed with him. As with Dad, the prayers were more for me than the dead, comforting me somewhat. Despite that, I was angry with God for taking my parents away and leaving me alone with my struggles over my sexuality. I asked Him for guidance, and all I got in return was silence.
The following week was a blur as I tried balancing attending classes and getting everything prepared for the funeral service and burial. The Sisters at Georgian Court College were sympathetic to my situation, so I was relieved of attending classes during the funeral. The funeral mass was well attended, and I received condolences from many attendees. I thanked them and smiled, but inside, I was upset. Again, I had beseeched God for help, and again, I got no answer from Him.
Finally, everything was done, and I stood over Mom’s grave, dribbling dirt out of my hand onto the coffin. All of the attendants were church members who had known my parents. They had been illegal bahis members of the congregation since before I was born. I had no family left except for some distant relatives living in other states around the country.
I stayed until the cemetery caretakers had finished filling in the grave and tamping down the dirt. I thanked them before I walked home. When I got home, I undressed, showered, and crawled into bed. Again, I asked God for guidance, and again, all I got was silence. At that moment, I decided that I wouldn’t bother talking to Him anymore if He wouldn’t talk to me.
After finishing my junior year, I decided that I didn’t need the house anymore. I planned to spend my senior year in the dormitory at Georgian Court College. Point Pleasant had been going through a renaissance, and I got a great price on my house when I sold it. My realtor found a nice young couple looking for a place to settle down and start a family. My house was perfect for that, so the sale was closed quickly with little fuss. I put the proceeds from the sale with the insurance from my mother’s death. I started investing it along with all of the money from my Dad’s insurance and investments.
I was well off, and I could have lived off my investments if I were so inclined. But I had big plans. I had been working on a dual degree in Biology and Chemistry. I thought I’d find a job at one of the nearby pharmaceutical companies. Maybe I’d find the cure for cancer and become famous. I don’t know if that would make me happy, but my social life sure wasn’t cutting it.
As soon as the house was sold, I moved my remaining personal items into the dorm. I would be staying in Hamilton Hall, and the Sisters allowed me to move in two weeks early when I explained my situation. I put the rest of the stuff I wanted to keep in storage until after I graduated, got a job, and found a place to live. Until then, Hamilton Hall would be my home.
Each room in the dormitory had one window in the middle of the wall opposite the door. There were two beds against opposite walls set up like bunk beds, but the bottom bed was configured to be a work area/desk where you could sit to do your schoolwork. The top bed was where you slept with a ladder and rail to keep you from falling out if you thrashed around at night.
The Sister in charge of Hamilton Hall, Sister Joyce, randomly patrolled the hallways during the day. She made sure that the doors were open so she could look in to make sure nothing untoward was going on in the room. The main entrance to the hall was locked at 10:00 PM during the week and at Midnight on weekends. If you returned after that, it involved disturbing Sister Joyce to come and unlock the door to let you in (unless you’ve arranged for your roommate to be waiting to let you in). You’d better have a good excuse to give Sister Joyce for being out that late. You were allowed to have female visitors, but men were strictly forbidden. I was a little nervous about the lack of privacy, but you were allowed to close the door when dressing during the day and at night while sleeping, so it wasn’t too bad. However, the communal bathrooms and showers would be an issue.
The main thing I was apprehensive about was that I’d have to share my room with another woman. Being an only child, I’d always had my own bedroom at home, so I’d never had to share a room before. I worried that I wouldn’t get along with my roommate. Then I worried that I’d be attracted to my roommate and how I’d have to live with that. I envisioned being thrown out of Georgian Court College in shame, or worse. As I worried, I almost went back on my vow to ignore God and had to keep reminding myself I didn’t need to go to the chapel to pray.
Finally, the day I dreaded dawned. Sister Joyce notified me that a roommate had been selected for me and would be moving in today, along with many other seniors. I decided to dress nicely to try to make a good impression. I wore a short-sleeved button-down oxford shirt and some lovely Capri’s and sandals to show off my legs and ass. That was about as scandalous an outfit as I thought I could get away with while living in the dorm.
I was on pins and needles while waiting to see who it would be. The halls were loud and bustling, with many students moving in, anticipating the start of classes after the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Since I had already moved in, I’d already taken the right side of the room. As I sat at my desk, I snuck a look at the open door from time to time to see who was going down the hall. Each time someone appeared in the hallway, I wondered if she was the one. Finally, it happened. My roommate appeared at my door.
She had a bag in each hand as she burst through the doorway, startling me even though I thought I was prepared. My first impression was an energetic force of nature had just forced its way into the room. I was stunned by what I saw standing in the doorway. She was tall, probably 5′ 10″, towering over my 5′ 2″ height, with long sandy blonde hair pulled back in a low ponytail. Her blue-gray eyes locked on me, and a huge smile broke across her face, lighting up the room like the sun coming out from behind a cloud. She was wearing a tight pullover top with a princess neckline, Bermuda shorts, and sandals. In short, she was an angel.
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