julia II, cape cod bay – july 4, 1964 by jmforceton

23 May

On a morning with blue skies and a few high clouds, Alfred and his tall, Madras shorts clad, seventeen-year-old son, AJ, are feeling warm sunshine on their faces, a brisk fifteen-knot salty breeze through their hair, and rolling four foot seas under them, on the foredeck of the Julia II, his well-found, wood, 42’ Friendship sloop, as they sort out lines to fly the jib wing-and-wing with the mainsail for the run downwind across Cape Cod Bay to Provincetown. Alfred’s sixty-four year old, scowling, father is at the iron, six spoke wheel, smoke from his briar pipe drifting forward past the deck hands as a fifty foot Hatteras cruiser powers across their bow leaving a five foot high wake in their path. AJ’s mom, Julia, is home, and will attend the fireworks display over Boston harbor that evening with her fourteen-year-old daughter and friends. The men will have corn on the cob, steaks, and lobsters for dinner on shore, followed by beers, firecrackers, and fireworks from the cockpit of the sloop, in rowdy, crowded, Provincetown Harbor. Alfred will not capture much in his journal tonight, but his memories of the day will freshen entries later in the week.

AJ goes below and turns on his transistor radio. A Hard Days Night, the Beatles new song, out this week, assaults the old man at the wheel. “What is that caterwauling. Sounds like the vagabonds that Sullivan had on his show. What’s Sullivan thinking? A shard dazed knight, doesn’t even make sense. They call this music. Close the hatch before I get seasick.” Alfred smirks as he slides the hatch cover down.

Alfred changes the subject, “So what do you think about the Warren Commission? Hard to imagine one guy could do what he did, alone.”

“Damn right. Then Teddy’s plane crashes flying into Westfield last month, Joe Junior’s plane goes down back in ’44. Bobby’s got to be next. How can it all be coincidence?”

“That’s why I always like investigative reporting, putting the pieces together. You may be right, but there’s no solid evidence yet. I haven’t talked to Bobby since Jack’s wake.”

“Evidence, I say poppycock to that. It’s about wealth and power. They won’t find any evidence. Bobby’s still Attorney General isn’t he; how much is he involved in the investigation? You think Hoover or the CIA will ever tell the truth, even if they knew it? It’ll be a matter of national security, the military will be involved; we’ll never know.” The hatch opens and they hear, Yeah, Yeah, Yeahhhh. She loves you. The old guy groans.

AJ, now in the cockpit says, “So Dad, why don’t we get one of those new Mustangs, or maybe one of those Corvair Monza convertibles. Johnny’s Dad just bought one.?”

“A great idea, but until I make Assistant Editor, we may not have enough spare cash for bus fare to get you to Amherst in September. That’s why. And besides that, if we got a Chevy, it would be a Corvette not a Monza.” More groans from the old man.

Their leisurely run across the bay continues, and the conversation and sporadic music fades as the sail sinks into the horizon.


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