Bill took me for a ride today, I told him I did not want to see him anymore. Honestly, he is sure one persistent guy. Told me he liked me very much and said he’d see me later.
There’s been a prowler around the block and he’s been to every house down to the O’Malley’s. Boy am I scared, he’s even been over to Mary Alice’s and Billie Jean’s house. Oh boy am I scared.
Monday August 11, 1952
Went into downtown El Monte tonight with Mary Alice and got a coke at Thrifty’s. Some exciting evening. Also she told me all about what she did to Joe… and what he did to her. Oh man I’m glad I never went that far. No wonder why she is so hurt that he left her.
Went to The Centennial Dance tonight, came home with Cecil and a friend of his. Cecil kissed me goodnight… AAK AAK…how horrible! I mean don’t get me wrong, Cecil’s a good looking guy, but his kisses are just not up to par.
Sid and some other guy came down tonight too. Heard Billie Jean just had her baby on Monday, her baby is a boy and she named him Daniel Michael.
Friday August 15, 1952
Well seems like Bill can’t take no for an answer….back again and asked me for a date for tonight. I REFUSED. Me and Mary Alice went up to The Centennial Dance again tonight.
Saturday August 16, 1952
Bill was over today and asked me for a date for tonight. I REFUSED. Me and Mary Alice went up to The Stomp and then went up to The Ship afterwards with a couple of guys. Bill was up there with some witch.
Sunday August 17, 1952
Bill took me to the beach today and showed me a pretty good time, the water was real warm. I guess Bill is OK. He asked me if I was his girl again but I told him to “cut the comedy”. He took off tonight with Glenn up North to Sacramento, he’ll be back on Thursday.
Monday August 18, 1952
Worked hard today. Went to bed early. Daddy’s vacation starts as of today.
Tuesday August 19, 1952
Cecil came down tonight, asked me to go out with him tonight. I REFUSED.
Born: August 11, 1952
Nine long months ago on a sultry Southern California November evening, 15 year-old Billie Jean abandoned herself into the arms of 20 year-old Donny…in the ultra-romantic backseat of his car. That night, sweet Baby Daniel was conceived by a troubled young girl looking for love, and a young passionate man who was ever at the ready to provide his “services”. Donny would also be the man who would steal away her virginity. But was it true love? Hardly. Billie Jean was just another one of his conquests, and being that he was still a legally married man, his intentions were not in Billie’s favor. Perhaps in the perfect world Billie would have been strong enough to take a page out of Vilma’s own playbook and tell Donny “I REFUSE!”
Two years earlier, when he was 18 years old, Donny joined the military right out of high school like many young men did in those days, and was sent overseas to serve his tour of duty in England. Already a budding alcoholic himself, he quickly turned to liquor and carousing the nights away with his military buddies in this foreign land. It was there where he became sweet on local young woman and likely married her on one of those alcohol fueled nights. After his tour of duty, he simply abandoned the girl and returned to his parents’ home, where he landed a job as a rookie El Monte Police Officer…still married. Oh, and he conveniently left out this important factoid to his new conquest Billie Jean.
After discovering their son got Billie Jean “in trouble” it was Donny’s parents who jumped into action and made him sell his brand spanking all-new-for-1952-Chevrolet to pay for the maternity home fees. As the time drew near for Billie Jean to have her baby, there was much talk between the two families of the best course of action for the unruly and unprepared pair.
Meanwhile at the Maternity Home...
After he was born however, little Daniel was whisked away all too quickly to the nursery under the assumption this child would be put up for adoption. The good nuns at St. Anne’s Maternity Home didn’t want the mothers getting too close to their children of course, all that natural bonding stuff would happen and it was believed it would just cause much more emotional detriment for the young mothers.
The tale of two Cafeteria's
During her months hidden away at the maternity home, Billie Jean was put to work in the small Cafeteria serving the nuns, staff and the other pregnant mothers. A far cry from another more well-known cafeteria called Clifton’s, where just a few years earlier, she and her best buddy Vilma would often hop on the local Pacific Electric Red Car Trolley from the El Monte station and tromp through downtown L.A. on an adventure all on their own, shopping at the Five & Dime stores and then stopping to have lunch at the grand Redwood Forest eatery. Now, those more innocent of days were lost forever, and slopping food on trays didn’t seem so glamorous.
Throughout her stay, one of the nurses on staff instantly took a liking and interest in young Billie Jean, and in turn, Billie Jean gave her extra pieces of bacon on her plate whenever she would come down the cafeteria line.
After baby Daniel was born, this mysterious nurse would steal into the nursery late at night, retrieve baby Daniel and bring him to Billie Jean’s room. Billie Jean stayed up all night with the baby, playing & softly cooing to him. Now she finally understood how to nurse him, finding relief from her engorged milk-filled breasts she was so fearful of that one day in the shower. Those laborious screams in the night now over, her fears turned to joy in just being with her child. Like clockwork, in the wee hours of the morning the nurse would come to gather baby Daniel and return him to the nursery. Their secret bartering system was safe with each other: more bacon on the plate for more time spent with the baby.
Billie discovers true love
Billie still not knowing how this would all turn out, had this time to ponder her young life. Having to quickly grow a bit in maturity, she did discover one big thing: through Daniel she finally experienced a pure and true love, a love like she had never known before. Oh she loved her dearly departed mother alright, but this was so different! She couldn’t resist Daniel’s beautiful swimming pool baby blue eyes, wispy blond locks and chubby rosebud cheeks. He looked so much like his father. And the way that mother and child would look into each other’s eyes on those secret nights when the nurse would come to deliver her tiny special package-- well they just needed each other dang-it! This love was unconditional.
The Grand Plan
Billie Jean had decided she wanted to keep her baby! But how? Donny’s well-meaning parents stepped in once again to save the day. They told Billie Jean they would take the baby into their home, and forced Donny to get an annulment from his sham marriage, naturally so he could then marry Billie Jean. Since she was almost 16, all they had to do was wait for the annulment to go through. To Billie Jean’s ears, this sounded like a swell plan. She could come home, escape from her own alcoholic father, keep her baby and have a real marriage, protecting her from the scandal of her un-wed motherhood. She was also “pretty sure” that she loved Donny… and that he loved her too.
A word about Guardian Angels
Since hearing this account of her life from my dear friend Billie Jean, I have often liked to think that our bacon lovin' nurse was one of her Guardian Angels. Sent from on high for a special purpose, her late night lawlessness bucking all the maternity home’s strict rules, taking a kind interest in one girl’s life, bringing together mother and child forever, all through the enchantment of BACON! Hey, God does work in mysterious ways!