Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Steve/Diana, Don/Lurene
Genres: Challenge, Romance
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
General Summary: 1961 was a very good year.
Chapter Summary: Diana and Steve enjoy lunch with an older couple who have memories of the New Frontier years.
Date Of Completion: August 14, 2008
Date Of Posting: October 4, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2350
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: This fic was written when I was having a pretty bad time of things in RL, and it relaxed me to write this at a leisurely pace, simply enjoying this little world I’d constructed for Steve and Diana and just being happy while I wrote it.
A scene in Chapter One: Mr. & Mrs. O’Reilly was inspired by the illustration, With You, by min_taiwan.
This story is for the 2008 DCU Fic/Art Endless Summer Challenge and the 2008 Wonder Woman Love Fic/Art Calendar Challenge (July). Prompt: Ocean.
This series is an umbrella title for various DC couples enjoying time by-the-sea. The entire series can be found here.
NARRAGANSETT, NECCOS, AND FENWAY FRANKS
Yet they had been given the freedom of getting behind the wheel.”
Dr. Serina Hatch
“The American Woman
In Postwar America”
Diana was pleased at the comfort of her dark-blue ‘pedal-pusher’ shorts that ended just above the knees. Her short-sleeved pale blue shirt was light cotton, and she had pulled her blond wig into a perky ponytail. Her bracelets were covered by tennis wristbands, the soft cloth white with red and blue stars patterned around the wrists. Slightly-scuffed white sneakers completed her ensemble.
Steve was wearing a dark-green pair of shorts, longer than a modern version, and a light-green short-sleeved shirt. He wore sturdy sandals, comfortable for his feet. He put his glasses case in his shirt pocket, wearing his sunglasses. His wallet slipped into his pants pocket easily.
Grinning, they held hands and started walking.
Diana loved exploring the shops. She never ceased to be amazed at the prodigious amount of things manufactured in Man’s World. On Paradise Island, items were created for utilitarian use, and the objects created for beauty alone were lovingly-crafted, not mass-produced.
Still, ‘kitsch’, as Steve called it, was an indelible part of American culture. And there were clever gems among the plastic, Diana delighted at the necklaces made from seashells.
“How lovely.” She held up a string of classic fan-shaped shells, bleached white by the sun.
“You really like it, love?”
“It is simple yet beautiful.”
“Then it’s yours.”
Delight lit up Diana’s face, and she sighed happily as Steve placed the jewelry around her neck after purchase.
“You spoil me, love.”
He laughed. “I’ve just begun.”
She kissed him, his eyes shining with happiness.
They continued browsing, Steve explaining old-fashioned items such as Slinkies and hula hoops and what he called ‘pop beads’: plastic beads for children, easy to pop together or pull apart. He laughed when he saw the board game, Candy Land, and fondly recalled playing it with his sister.
“Wow, these toys bring back a lot of memories. They’re all still popular today, though the kids like video games better than board games.” His eyes lit up. “Hey, a propeller cap from Beanie & Cecil!”
“Beanie & Cecil?”
“Yeah, it was this really cool kids’ cartoon, but like Rocky And Bullwinkle, could be enjoyed by adults, too. Very satirical.”
“So it was about two little boys?”
“Actually, it was about a little boy and his sea serpent.” He grinned at her raised eyebrow. “Darling, it’s postwar, Baby Boomer imagination. Don’t try to figure it out.”
They browsed in another section of the gift shop, then headed for an antique store. The small shop was crammed with curious items, Steve explaining those objects that puzzled Diana, and she was drawn to a glass case filled with jewelry. A wink of gold caught her attention, and she examined the piece closely.
They spent another hour browsing, then Steve patted his stomach. “Hungry, darling?”
Diana nodded and they began looking for a place to eat.
A small restaurant by the harbor looked promising. They went inside, the place crammed with diners, and the harried hostess said, “A table out on the deck just opened up.”
“Perfect.” Steve put a hand on Diana’s lower back, indicating that she should go first.
The deck was filled with round, white tables and striped umbrellas of different colors, each table except one occupied. Diana and Steve were shown to a table in the corner of the deck, the hostess quickly setting down menus and bustling off.
“Pretty busy.” Steve opened the menu.
“Either the food or the prices are attracting them.”
They gradually decided on their orders, looking at the view of the harbor and declaring it spectacular. They chatted about what they’d seen in the shops.
Fifteen minutes later Steve frowned. “They must really be backed up.”
“Yes.” Diana wished she could get a glass of water.
“Oh, my! Apologies, folks. Darned prices have everyone all excited.” A very young waitress suddenly appeared, hazel eyes bright as she poised pencil over pad.
“The haddock sandwich, please, and substitute rice for the French fries.” Diana closed the plastic menu. “And a glass of water with a slice of lemon.”
“What dressing would you like for your salad?”
“Great.” The girl scribbled quickly, reminding Diana of the Flash. “And you, sir?”
“A lobster roll with onion rings on the side, Italian dressing on my salad, and I noticed you’re offering Narragansett beer?”
“I’d like some of that.”
“Good choice, sir.”
“I know that they went out of business in ‘81 but started up again a few years ago. I’m glad you’ve got it on the menu.”
“We stocked up, sir. Plenty still left.”
The waitress took the menus and hurried away.
“Narragansett? That sounds like an Indian tribe,” said Diana.
“It is. They’re based in Rhode Island where the beer was brewed from Day One.”
“So it is a regional brew, like Hood is a local ice cream company.”
Steve nodded. “Like the State Line potato chips we had yesterday, or the Polar soda you saw in the stores.” Steve smiled. “My dad drank Narragansett beer all the time while listening to Red Sox games on the radio in the summer.”
Diana was pleased at her Beloved’s happy memories. “What are other New England things?”
“Oh, Necco wafers and brown bread that was cut round and sold that way, and the A&P supermarkets where you’d get green stamps for a certain purchase amount, then you could buy dishes or lawn furniture or anything, really, using the stamps.”
“And postwar culture was consumer-oriented?”
“Very.” Steve smiled as their waitress brought their drinks. “People went a little crazy. They wanted to spend. They’d gone through fifteen years of Depression, where there was no money, and the War, where there was money but nothing to spend it on.”
“Excuse me.” The hostess appeared at their table. “Would you be amenable to sharing your table? I apologize, but we’re so backed up…”
Steve and Diana exchanged a look, then Diana said, “Certainly.”
The hostess brought over an elderly couple, Steve standing and shaking their hands, Diana doing so while seated.
“Don Kettering,” said the husband, holding the chair for his wife Lurene. His brown eyes sparkled as he said, “Quite a gimmick this town has. Lurene and I were delighted when we heard about it. Brings back a lot of memories.” His silky white hair was neatly combed, and he was wearing a short-sleeved white shirt, tan pants, and penny loafers.
Lure’s white hair was stylishly-coiffed in period fashion, and her outfit was a light-green short-sleeved shirt and dark-green pedal pushers. Yellow straw sandals finished the ensemble.
“What a pretty bracelet,” Diana admired the glittery yellow jewelry.
“This is a genuine 1961 bracelet.” She winked. “Meaning I’ve had it since then.” Lurene put her napkin on her lap “So, how are you enjoying 1961?”
“I find it fascinating. So different.”
“That’s for certain.” Lurene smiled. “Take it from one who lived it, honey. You’ve got it better today…some of the time.”
Diana cocked her head. “That is an interesting statement. How so?”
“Well, the obvious pros column is our greater rights today. Back in ’61, a woman couldn’t obtain a loan or get one of those newfangled things called credit cards without her husband co-signing.”
Diana’s eyes widened. She knew of Man’s World inequality, but for even such little things?
“Occupations were pretty limited.”
“Ah, yes, the basics of teacher, nurse, or secretary.”
“Pretty much, though to be honest, women in power are pretty much torn down today. Back then women had no illusions about how far they could go. Now you get a glass ceiling.” Lurene adjusted her bracelet. “Still, we were better off than a lot of women in the world. Even when cars started to show up on the roads, there were more women drivers than you’d expect, and by 1961 just about every female was expected to drive, which gave us the freedom of the open road. Independence, too.”
Diana nodded. “I have noticed in old films that women drive even the largest cars.”
“Yep. Sometimes you’d get a scene in which a woman is driving and the man is the passenger. Usually it’s the other way around, but that simple little thing, driving, gave women in America at least some serious steps toward equality. Look at the societies today that don’t allow women to drive. It limits you, and makes you dependent on men for even the simplest trip to the market.”
Steve and Don were discussing Cold War politics. The waitress appeared and the Ketterings ordered, falling back into conversation easily after she left.
“So, Jack, what do you do?” Don asked.
“I’m a pilot for Northeast Airlines.”
“Hey, that’s great!”
“And you, sir?”
“I used to be a top executive at the Shredded Wheat company of Niagara Falls.”
“Oh, my dad loves Shredded Wheat.”
Don laughed. “It’s All-American fare, my friend.”
The waitress brought Don and Lurene’s drinks, Don clinking glasses with Steve. “Ah, Narragansett beer!”
“It couldn’t have been easy to work your way up.”
“Let me tell you, son…”
“Lurene, why do you say times are better now…but not completely?” Diana asked.
Lurene drank her glass of beer. “We’ve got more independence now, but this is also a cruder time. It could be annoying to have to wear a hat and gloves when leaving the house, but you were treated like a lady. A gentleman wouldn’t dare use four-letter words in mixed company, for example. Society was far more civil then.”
“But was it worth the inequality?”
“No, but you always lose some of the good with the bad.”
Diana looked thoughtful. “I suppose that can be so.”
Lurene tilted her head. “I detect a faint accent. Are you native to America?”
“No.” Diana smiled. “I am originally from Greece.”
“Oh, how delightful! You must be living here now, though? Or just vacationing?”
Lurene glanced at Steve, who Diana knew looked like the All-American man.
“No, I live in America now.” Diana smiled again. “I am very happy.”
Lurene beamed. “Good. Always nice to see a young couple happy.”
“Very,” Diana said serenely.
Their meals arrived and the conversation turned back to Cold War politics, drawing the women in this time.
Don said, “People or our generation remember JFK for more than his womanizing. The younger generation, sad to say, has a cockeyed picture of the man. He was a philanderer, big time, but a smart guy. For all his shortcomings, he was the perfect man in the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis, for starters.”
“I agree,” Steve said. “There have been some Presidents since then that scare the crap out of me in the same situation.”
“You’re right.” Lurene speared a cherry tomato from her salad. “Restraint is necessary. Going off half-cocked is dangerous.”
“True, diplomacy is essential.” Diana added a tomato slice to her sandwich. “It is always better to talk first.”
Don waved his fork. “Exactly! All this shootin’ from the hip we’ve been getting lately is stupid. You need cool heads.”
“It is always easy to get into war. The trick is to try and avoid it as much as possible,” Diana said.
“Exactly again.” Don looked at Diana shrewdly. “Do you work in politics or the military, young lady?”
Diana smiled. “I have been involved in both fields.”
“I knew it! See, Lurene, I can spot a person’s occupation a mile off.”
“Yes, dear,” Lurene said fondly.
Steve and Diana exchanged amused looks.
“Well, I can say Lurene and I were happy that Jack Kennedy was in office in those days. Why, the Berlin Wall went up during this year and could have sparked World War III!”
“Conservatives would say he should have pushed.” Steve took a bite of his lobster roll.
“Bah, they’re always cryin’ about something.”
Steve grinned and sipped his beer.
“Man, I miss this beer.” Don took a sip of his own. “When the Red Sox were on the radio or TV, Narragansett beer was a sponsor. Ah, the lazy days of summer.”
“Good ol’ Fenway Park and Fenway Franks and Hoodsie cups.”
Steve laughed. “They still play in the ol’ ballyard.”
“It’s a classic. They’ll be celebrating one hundred years in 2012.”
“Are you a baseball fan, dear?” Lurene asked Diana.
“Oh, I enjoy feats of athleticism, surely.”
Diana’s comment and too-innocent expression caused Steve to choke on his beer.
Lurene grinned. She sipped her drink, then pointed to Diana’s necklace while Don pounded Steve’s back. “What a pretty string of shells, dear.”
“Thank you.” Diana looked down at her necklace. “I have but to admire it, and my husband obtains it for me.”
“Watch out there, Jack boy, otherwise you’ll give us other husbands a bad name,” Don winked.
Grinning, Steve said, “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Hush, Don. Let Jack here take care of his wife.”
Steve and Diana laughed, the Ketterings smiling, too.
“You’re a better husband than JFK.” Lurene said.
“Thank you. Though I still admire him as a President.” Steve smiled at Lurene.
Back at the cottage Diana said, “That was an interesting lunch. Lurene and Don are fine people.”
“Yeah, I enjoyed talking to them.” Steve was unbuttoning his shirt, getting ready to take a shower.
“They said there is a series of lectures at the college tonight about 1961.”
“Already got the tickets.”
Diana paused from putting the apples they had bought on the way home into a bowl.
Steve stood in the bedroom doorway brandishing the tickets and a smile.
Diana dashed to him and pulled him into an embrace, Steve laughing.
Diana pulled back and looked into her lover’s eyes. “How do you always know what I need or want?’
“A gift, I suppose.” Steve gazed lovingly at his Beloved.
She kissed him.
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