By Del Starr, a pseudonym; all rights reserved.

What Now?

Once more Dianne moved into her little doll house in Seattle, though it no longer had the feelings of intimacy and security that it once had. And, of course, Grace was still there.

Grace and Dianne argued often. Grace seemed to “lord it over” Dianne, bragging that she was intimate with Dianne’s husband. One day when Grace was at work, Dianne began to snoop, for things just did not “feel right.” She found a small locked box belonging to Grace and pried it open. Inside she found thirteen love letters from Alex to Grace, written during the time she and Alex had been in Missouri and Arkansas. They spoke against Dianne and expressed longing for the time when once again Alex could be in Grace’s arms. If she had not already determined to divorce Alex, this solidified her determination.

Dianne took a job to supplement the income that the Army provided for her and life began a routine. Alex had given her a watch for her birthday that year but Dianne later learned that Grace had picked out the watch and purchased it, sending it to Alex to give it to Dianne.

It was Friday night and Dianne was taking a bath. She had taken off her watch and laid it on her piano. When she finished her bath she went to retrieve the watch and it was gone. She asked Grace if she knew what had become of her watch and Grace told her that since she was planning to divorce Alex, she was no longer entitled to the watch and that she, Grace, had taken it and Dianne would not get it back until she gave up this foolish notion of divorcing Alex.

Sabbath morning, instead of attending church with Grace, Dianne went to Zale’s jewelry where she picked out another watch and put it on a charge account. The watch that Alex had given her was never mentioned again.

From that moment on, Dianne did not attend church for several years. Christianity showed itself in her pious Mother who had the ability to cut her to the bone. Dianne knew that she was far from perfect. Grace didn’t have to criticize and condemn constantly. Dianne gave up on church and God, onvinced in her heart that it was actually her own “badness” that had brought about all the troubles she had experienced. She knew that because Grace told her so.

Dianne met a girl at work who had a boyfriend who was a bartender and though Dianne was much younger than twenty-one, she would go into the bar with her friend where the bartender would never ask her questions. Dianne hated the taste of alcohol so the bartender would pour a very small amount of beer into a glass and fill it with 7-up and Dianne was able to choke it down. She later learned that she rather enjoyed a “loganberry flip” which was loganberry wine in 7-up and that became Dianne’s drink.

Dianne would spend her weekends away from Grace and the doll house, walking the streets of Seattle. She began to meet and date sailors and her life became a round of partying, drinking, movies, and late-night lovers. She didn’t even want to think about a permanent relationship and purposely sabotaged any relationship that began to take the form of permanency. She had given up the idea of divorce, not so much because she had any hopes for the marriage but because being married, she couldn’t marry and that held her in relative safety.

Dianne was now caught between her need for love and the principles that had been instilled in her by George and Ruth.

She met another girlfriend who was much the same as Dianne and they decided to move to California, where the girlfriend’s father lived. Once again Dianne packed and she and her friend drove to Downey, California.

For the first couple of weeks, the girlfriend’s father paid for a motel for them and Dianne and her friend took advantage of it. They didn’t look for work but just partied, found new boyfriends, and had fun.

The girlfriend’s father took a dim view of the situation and brought it to a screeching halt. He took the girlfriend home to stay with him and told Dianne that she needed to work out her own life.

Once again Dianne was alone in a strange town. The only thing she had was her car.

An older man who was staying at the same motel invited her to stay in his place. Dianne was somewhat innocent, even though her life had taken a downward spiral, and the first time that the old man came to her bed, she ran from him. It was totally unexpected and she was in fear of him. From then on, she slept in her car. She got a job, found a new girlfriend, and they moved into an apartment in an exclusive area together.

However, Dianne longed to return home to George and Ruth, so she gave up the job. She didn’t have money but started out anyway. She got as far as Eureka, California when she ran out of gas and money. When the police stopped to find out what her problem was, they contacted her aunt, (Lorraine’s sister) in Crescent City, who immediately came and bailed her out. She stayed with her aunt for a while. Then she went on back to the valley of Oregon where George and Ruth lived and it was there that she was presented with divorce papers from Alex, who by now was stationed in West Germany.

Though Dianne had long ago given up any hope that the marriage could be repaired, the divorce papers carried a finality that once more made her heart sink, but she did not oppose the divorce.

Not long after the divorce was final, the phone rang one day and it was for Dianne. When she answered it, she found Alex on the other end, calling her from Germany. He expressed his love for her and his regrets that their lives had taken the turns that it had and asked if she wanted to try it again. Dianne was flabbergasted but in spite of it all, she still loved Alex and he sounded so sincere that she told him she would think about it and asked him to call her in a few days.

When Alex called again, Dianne agreed that she would, indeed, like to try to make the marriage work. She agreed that if he would send for her, she would fly to him. She began to make preparations to move once more and to obtain her passport. Soon the tickets arrived.

With a heart as light as the clouds, Dianne boarded the plane that would take her to Alex. They would be together again. This time, things would be different.

When she arrived in Germany, though he had been several years in the military, (Dianne was twenty now), they were not married and so could not obtain government quarters. That meant that Dianne had to take an apartment on the German economy.

She was once again excited to be with her husband and proud of him. Their marriage seemed stronger than ever and Grace never was an obstacle to it.

When Dianne had been there about three months, she walked to the base one day and one of the fellows in Alex’s company gave her the mail that had arrived that day. In the mail was a letter with a return address of Oregon from a female correspondent. Dianne opened the letter and inside was a picture of a young boy. The letter said, “Our boy is all boy, I wish you could see him.”

Dianne’s heart sank again. Alex had made no mention of either a woman or a child and she didn’t know what to think. When she approached Alex with the letter and picture, Alex became angry and told her that she shouldn’t have been snooping in the mail.

Dianne began asking questions around the base and learned that Alex had not only this child in Oregon, by a woman he had met in Arkansas, but also two children by two different women in Germany, and that one of the women was now pregnant with his second child. Dianne determined that she needed to return to Oregon.

Alex had other ideas. He was very angry that Dianne had learned these things and he refused to send her home. Dianne was now alone in a strange country where she didn’t even speak the language.

She had no way to provide income for herself and it wasn’t long until the food supply in the tiny apartment ran dry. Furthermore, Alex had discontinued paying rent on it and Dianne had no place to go. Once again Dianne approached Alex, asking for his help in getting back to the United States, and once again Alex refused. Dianne had not eaten in two days, and told Alex that she was hungry. Alex reached into his pocket and took out two marks (equivalent at that time to 50 cents), flipped it at Dianne and said, “Here you go!” He then turned on his heel and walked out of the room.

Dianne was terrified! What was she to do?

Fifty cents would not even buy her food for one day and it was not much better than nothing so Dianne went to the gambling machine at the NCO club and played the 50 cents there. She won $7.50, enough to buy some groceries so that she could eat for another few days.

One of the fellows in Alex’s company took pity on her and bought her a ticket to Frankfurt. He had made arrangements for Dianne to have an appointment with the American consulate there, and when Dianne told the consulate of her plight, he made arrangements to fly her to New York.

In return, Dianne was to accompany a five-year-old boy, the product of a German mother and an American father, who had watched his father kill his mother. Since his father was still living, the child was an American citizen and though he spoke not a word of English, it was mandated that he be turned over to the American authorities in New York. Dianne recalls how, as the airplane began to taxi from the airport, the little boy, with tears streaming down his tiny face, waved and waved, crying “Auf Weidersehn, Auf Weidersehn.” It was a moment in Dianne’s tangled life that made her realize that her life could have been worse.

When she arrived in New York, Dianne was met by two caseworkers: one for the little boy and one for Dianne. She was taken to a hotel for the night and it was determined that she should return to the West Coast. The caseworker attempted to contact George and Ruth but they weren’t home. The next call was to Dianne’s aunt in Crescent City, California, and arrangements were made for Dianne to go once more to her aunt’s home.