November 16, 2012

ON THE EDGE: Judy from Jersey

By J.P. Devine
Correspondent

She was tall, Judy was, maybe 5 feet, 11 inches in her bare feet. I confess a life-long passion for tall girls. I called her Judy and she never liked it. Her name was Judith, and she insisted that everyone who knew her call her that, because she wanted to be an opera singer and Judy wouldn't cut it.

Judy was sweet on me and I was the only one who got away with it.

Judy carried her height well, like someone who was always fated to be married in a great cathedral.

She had big red hair and very long legs. It pains me to say it was more than 55 years ago and I can't even remember her last name, but I remember those legs. Isn't that awful?

I write today in memory of Judy, and a Thanksgiving past we spent together, with a clutch of friends somewhere on the Jersey shore. Seaside Heights comes to mind. Maybe it was a bit past there or just before, but I remember seeing the sign for Seaside Heights. Judy's parents had a home there and she sweetly drove six of us on a long ride down in an old Chevrolet. There was Bob, a Broadway stage manager, his girlfriend, a singer friend of Judy's who sold underwear at Macy's, and Charlie Foster, a cowboy actor, who at the time, was my best friend.

I think of all of this today, because it's almost Thanksgiving and because Hurricane Sandy may well have taken Judy's ancestral home out to sea. I looked online at some news shots of the area and it was sad.

I think of all of this today, because it's almost Thanksgiving and because Hurricane Sandy may well have taken Judy's ancestral home out to sea. I looked online at some news shots of the area and it was sad.

There is darkness there now, where once people strolled on the beach and had fireworks displays and barbecues. There is darkness in their homes, the ones still standing, and in the collective hearts and souls of the survivors.

That Thanksgiving we, a band of itinerant players, were treated to a Jersey Shore turkey dinner with all of the accouterments we had long ago given up for a life in the theater. We ate from china plates on a lace tablecloth, trying to keep our elbows off the table and remembering to say "thank you" and "please" so as not to embarrass "Judith."

Judy's mother played the piano after dinner, and Judy sang an aria in perfect Italian. I wish I could remember what it was. I only remember that Charlie, the cowboy actor, fell asleep.

I dated Judy for a few weeks after that, and then she went home for Christmas and on the next Thanksgiving I met she who had auburn hair, and every Thanksgiving after that for the rest of my life has been perfect.

The lights are going on again on the Jersey Shore and homes and lives are being rebuilt. I imagine the old house with the porch swing and the parlor with the piano is long gone, and probably Judy is a grandmother with her own parlor and piano. That would be nice to think. Goodnight Judith, wherever you are. Thanks for the memory.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

 

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