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Chapter Six: “Drumsticks” by Pete Loughran
My Dad was a mechanic in the British Army Corps. Dad played drums in their jazz band, too. He made his sticks with scrap wood (just like he made our sticks and picks) so he had lots and he used to toss them to the girls he wanted to meet hoping he’d meet the right girl. Sometimes it worked good but not always. He said once he tossed one to a girl and she threw it right back at him. Hit him in the face. She wasn’t the right girl. There were other girls who were very nice girls but they weren’t the right girl. Then the one time he actually did throw it to the right girl the Krauts dropped a bomb on him.
My Mum was eighteen when she enlisted as a nurse in the US Army. They sent her home in 1945 when she was twenty. That was my fault. But back to the drumsticks.
Dad said the song was Hit That Jive, Jack. It was 1944 and there hadn’t been Krauts dropping bombs on London in a year at least so he never saw it coming. Dad had a big drum solo and he had a place where if he wanted to toss a stick at a girl he would and then he did a trick where he would pull another stick out of the can and flip it up in the air and he would catch it in time for the downbeat. It don’t make sense when I explain it so just try to picture him doing it. Anyway, there were lots of pretty girls there and he tossed the stick to the prettiest girl he’d ever seen and he did the trick only it didn’t work so good because when he hit the drum the building exploded! That’s not how it’s supposed to work. The Krauts dropped a bomb and it landed about twenty feet from the bandstand so if they were aiming for Dad they missed but he still got hurt real bad. The wall landed on him and smashed him on the head and broke his knee and his ankle and he lost a chunk of his calf from the shrapnel so it looked like something took a big bite outta him.
Lucky for him the girl was the right girl and she wanted to meet him. She climbed over the rubble and she pulled all of the burning wood and stuff off of him. And even though she was a lot smaller than him she picked him up off of the ground and she put his arm around her shoulder and she pretty much carried him out of the building, which obviously was on fire. She then carried him to the US Army ambulance and she went with him to the Allied forces hospital and he stayed there for a very long time because he was hurt so bad that they wouldn’t send him home to his mummy in Bootle (which is in Lancashire, where my Dad is from.) He stayed and the pretty girl, who was a nurse, took care of him at the hospital for a very long time and then they moved him to a place nearby where he lived in his own room while he was learning how to walk again.
The pretty nurse spent a lot of time with him and she helped him learn to walk. And of course they fell in love. They made me and because of that the Army said they were gonna make her go home, because a war is no place to have a baby.
Dad loved her and she loved him and they wanted to be together, so he told her he was gonna marry her and he did and they were hoping they would let her stay but it didn’t work out like that. So Dad had to get better so they would let him out of the home and he had to get all the right paperwork so they would let him go to Brooklyn and finally, after seven months, he got to go be with her. He went thirty-five hundred miles across the ocean and he got there right on time, because I was born five days later.
I’m glad he threw that drumstick, because if he hadn’t she might never have noticed him and she might have ran for her own life instead of saving his and he would have died! The drumstick thing worked out pretty well for him. The drumsticks didn’t work out quite as well for me (maybe because the right girl for me was in school to be a doctor at the time and she was thirty-five hundred miles across the ocean) but I did meet some pretty great girls that way…