Don is sitting on a bar stool drinking a cold beer in a dark tavern in San Diego, California. He’s a boiler technician in the U. S. Navy and on liberty from his ship. He is so handsome in his Cracker Jack uniform with that thin line of a mustache above his sure, sexy smile. A cigarette dangles casually from his lips sending smoky tendrils into the atmosphere.
Barb is sitting on the stool next to him with her own cigarette femininely perched between two fingers with manicured red nails. She’s gorgeous with her 1951 perfectly coifed, blond hair framing her narrow face. Her smiling lips are painted to match her fingernails. They met in the greasy spoon down town where she waits tables. Two beautiful people looking for someone to share the night.
Barb calls Don and when he answers, she’s quiet. “Don?”
“Don, I’m pregnant.”
They marry and a two-day honeymoon at the Morgan Hotel passes by quickly. When Don’s orders come to ship-out the tension is permeable as they try to say goodbye. They hesitate before they kiss then Don gently squeezes Barb’s shoulder until his emotions take over and he embraces her. Tears stream from Barb’s eyes, but are they of love or fear of being alone again?
On July 2, 1952, after a long and arduous labor, Barb delivers a stillborn boy.
Don requests emergency leave and returns to a woman he has married because of a child, a child that has never drawn a breath. This boy is buried alone, without a name, in a strange cemetery.
All too soon, Don goes back to his ship. Barb continues to work at the café as she grieves alone and wonders again if he loves her.
When Don is discharged from the Navy in 1954, they move to northern California where they have three girls: Deborah (Debbi), Roberta (Berta) and Donna. Donna is just three months old when they move to Meredosia, Illinois and a better job for Don at the Central Illinois Power Service plant.
Two years later Barb delivers another daughter, Barbara (Bobbi). Barb and Bobbi have just come home from the hospital when Barb begins to hemorrhage. The funeral Hearst doubles as the ambulance and carries Barb back to the hospital where she has an emergency hysterectomy. At four-and a half Berta plays “mommy” with Bobbi and does everything she can to take care of her little sister.