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. . . Just Building Castles In The Sand—Troy Donahue & Dorothy Provine

They were looking for a place to sun, in complete privacy—away from the hustle and bustle, so they traveled an extra half hour to the private Zuma Beach. They chose a spot where they could watch the waves break silently against the shore, washing the different colored shells up onto the beach.

Then, as they lay quietly, not moving or talking, a sea gull, with wings spread wide, flew overhead. It caught the eye of the handsome young man with the bronze body, blond hair and blue eyes, as he lay on the sand with his back to the warm sun.

“Hey look at that,” Troy Donahue exclaimed, as the gull flew overhead with the ease of movement that can come only with a lifetime of experience.

Dorothy Provine lifted her big straw hat which had fallen down over her eyes. She squinted and, for a moment, she and Troy watched the bird fly out to sea till it was just a dot on the horizon.

“It’s mild and peaceful here, huh?” Troy asked, waiting for Dotty’s reaction. “Kind of reminds me when Evy and I would go down to the docks in Bayport and sit for hours in the sun, waiting for a fish to bite.”

“Evy?” Dorothy asked. She’d been letting the sand trickle through her fingers into a little mound and now she began to pat it into shape, though Troy couldn’t tell yet what it was going to be. He wondered, from the way she asked that question, if maybe she was jealous. He’d seen Dorothy in the Warner Brothers’ commissary, lots of times, and finally he meandered over and introduced himself. Now, this was the fourth time they’d been to the beach together.

Troy laughed at her question and explained, “Evy’s my kid sister. We used to sit on the docks, with nobody else around, and it seemed as though our thoughts could be heard for miles around . . . Evy was like my sounding board. She was only six, at the time, but she was very bright. I could talk to her about almost anything. I still can. Sometimes she thought I was crazy when I told her I wanted to be an actor. She liked the idea of wearing a uniform and hoped, just like my mom did, that I’d go to West Point. But, at times, she could get excited over my living in Hollywood and her coming out to visit me when I would be working with people like Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne.”

Always in trouble

“I have a kid sister, too,” Dorothy said. “Did I ever tell you about her?” Troy’s talk about his sister had started her remembering things she almost thought she’d forgotten. “Patti was the aggressive one. I always liked what she did, because she had the nerve to do anything. Me? I was afraid someone would come and bite me if I opened my mouth.

“I followed Patti—no matter what she’d suggest. My poor Mom. She even had to call the cops one day. Patti and I had disappeared. She searched high and low for us, but we weren’t to be found. We’d made some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, stolen a box of Granny’s peanut brittle cookies and hid in our tree house waiting for the stars to fall down to earth. You see, I had this theory that after the night was over, the stars lined up, one by one, and found their way to earth to sleep. So, Patti and I were going to find out if it were true. The top of our tree house slid back and we could see the whole sky covered with little lights. I don’t think either one of us blinked an eyelash, all night, waiting for the stars to descend. But, somehow, we didn’t see my theory come true. We must have fallen off to sleep—and that was that! The police found us, sleeping soundly, around five in the morning. My mother didn’t even yell at us. She knew it was no use.

“For two days, life would run smoothly. Patti and I would go to school in Seattle, but, by the third day, we were restless and off on another project. I would usually bring home the stray little kids who wandered in from nowhere and feed them my grandmother’s cookies. . . . People always intrigued me. I don’t know why but you know, even today I have the strangest group of friends.”

“I always like being by myself whenever I could,” Troy admitted. “Even though I played football in school and participated in school functions and was always surrounded by kids.

“Can you believe it, people used to tell me their problems. It’s funny, I got tagged a ‘PLP’ ”

“What’s a ‘PLP?’ ” Dorothy asked.

“You oughta know that,” Troy said “You’re a Phi Beta Kappa. . . . It’s Public Leaning Post!” Troy answered. “It seems, something you have inside, just draws people with problems to you. Some kids, I’m sure, never realized I had my own headaches. You know, when my dad died, I was only fourteen and the head of our household. It was hard for a while. I used to go and sit by myself. Funny, I liked being alone. It gave me a chance to to think and read. You know, I’d like to write short stories some day.”

“Hey, me too,” Dorothy said. “When Patti was out cavorting by herself, I liked to stay home reading. My mother thought I’d be cross-eyed one day. . . Hah! I don’t even wear glasses!” she laughed.

The sun seemed to be directly overhead. Dorothy removed her straw hat. “Whew! It’s hot,” she said. “It feels good.”

Troy turned over on his back. “Let’s go swimming and cool off?” he suggested.

“I’d rather not,” Dorothy answered, drawing back a little.

“Ah, c’mon. It’s so warm. We’ll cool off,” he said. A gleam of apprehension shone in Dorothy’s eyes. “What’s the matter?” Troy teased softly. “Afraid?”

“Heck! It’s just . . . ju”

“Just what?” Troy asked, concerned.

“Well, it’s just that every time I see water . . . can you believe it, I can’t forget the time Patti and I almost drowned!”

“You’re kidding,” Troy laughed.

“No. I’m not! Honest. Patti and I always liked to prove who was better than the other. I told her I could swim better than Florence Chadwick. She said she could—so we set out to prove it. I was nine at the time. Patti was only eight. We swam three miles out in Haller Lake, and we were somewhere out in a never never land when Patti got tired and started dropping under. I was so exhausted, I could hardly keep myself above water, too. Somehow, I managed to hold Patti up and, for about two miles I did a crawl—and I mean crawl-back to land. I really thought we were going to drown.”

“Don’t worry,” Troy said, “I can take care of you. I was on the swimming team at the New York Military Academy—really. I’ll protect you if you go under!”

“How gallant, Mr. Donahue,” Dorothy laughed and, with that, Troy picked her up and running toward the water, he threw her in.

Several minutes later, they plopped back on their blanket, still laughing. Dorothy’s hair was wet and straggly. She took out her brush and some pins and began fixing her hair.

“Sometimes I want to cut all my hair off and let it fly wildly and not worry if every hair is in place!” she laughed.

“Then why don’t you?” Troy queried.

He was Juliet!

“Guess, because I’m sentimental. I’ve always had long hair. Then it’s an advantage when I have to play different parts too.” And she turned and laughed gaily. “You know, one day, when I was a kid and we were putting on shows in the neighborhood, I needed a mustache, so I cut off a piece of my pony tail. It always came in handy.”

“I did my first school play at the Academy,” Troy joined in. “It was an all boys school, so the guys had to play girl’s parts. I almost cracked up when six foot three inch me had to play Juliet!

They both laughed hysterically. The mound Dorothy had started to build, earlier, had taken shape now, and Troy reached over to help smooth the sand to castle. “Funny thing, though,” Troy continued. “It was while doing a couple of these plays that I decided I wanted to act and after I injured my knee and couldn’t if go on with a professional military career, I thought, ‘Why not! Acting can’t be that , tough!’ ”

“Well, I always knew that I’d be an actress some day,” Dorothy interrupted. “My mom used to be a radio personality, but when she married, she gave it up. I always loved to sing and dance around the house and, after school, Patti and I would dress up in Mom’s clothes and put on shows for just each other. Patti’s married now but my youngest sister Suzie, who’s thirteen, says she wants to be an actress, too.

“Besides, I felt like a million different people when I was on stage. I was no longer shy Dorothy Provine, who died a million deaths when she had to be with a lot of people. I was somebody else. It was a great escape.

“Then when I went to high school, and after school, I did some modeling. I started out by doing commercials on our local TV station. That’s when I really knew I wanted to act. I remember getting paid for my first commercial. It was for Almond Roca candies. They sent us a whole year’s supply. Boy, was I glad. I hated to eat meals, but did I love sneaking a candy bar or cookies. I still do.”

Dorothy sat upright, putting the straw hat back on her head. “Can’t sit in the sun too long with my hair uncovered. The sun changes the color.”

Troy rolled over again, ran his hand through her hair and lay his head on Dorothy’s lap and they tried to sleep. Then, suddenly, Troy said, “Boy, did I have a rough time getting started. Did you?” he asked.

“No. I was lucky. When I graduated from the University of Washington, I left immediately for Hollywood. The first day I was here I got an apartment. And—”

“Did you have any money?” Troy again interrupted.

“Oh, I’d saved a few hundred dollars from my modeling, commercials and acting jobs—enough, anyway, to last about six months or so. But, on my second day, I got myself an agent who sent me out on an interview for a television show. Before I knew it, I was standing before a camera. Guess I was really lucky. I’ve been working steadily ever since—except, of course, when I’m home recouping from one of my accident prone days. You know, as a kid, I couldn’t climb a tree without falling out of it. And even today, somehow doors manage to fall in on me or a boom hits me on the head. Things like that keep happening to me,” she laughed.

“Wish it had been that easy for me!” he sighed. “For a couple of years, I walked New York’s pavements till my soles’ soles were worn out! But it was the same old story. Everyone wanted someone with experience. . . . Need I say more?” Dorothy shook her head to show she understood. Troy continued. “Finally, a friend of my dad’s offered me a job with a film company, and I jumped at it. Left New York and headed for California. Knocked around for another year or so there, but couldn’t even get arrested. Wow! What luck I had. And then, when things finally looked good and I got this offer to do a screen test for Columbia Pictures, I got into a car accident and wound up on an operating table instead of on the set!”

Were you in love?”

A long, low whistle interrupted his trend of thought. Dorothy, immediately, looked up from under her hat. A handsome young, bronze-skinned man was staring at her. She turned as red as a beet!

“I hate when men do that!”

“Ah, c’mon. You know every girl loves it!” Troy chided.

“Oh no they don’t! And, besides, I’m not like every girl. Sometimes I think I’m still afraid of men. I didn’t even start dating till I was seventeen. I just couldn’t get along with boys. I always had secret crushes, but I never did anything about it. When my girlfriends would ask me to double or triple date with them, I’d always accept. It seemed to be more fun going out in a group, than being by yourself. The boys I went out with, never seemed to understand. They didn’t know why I wanted a career. They thought a girl’s place was in the home . . . There seemed to be nothing to talk about. I guess that’s why I stayed by myself so much.”

“Were you ever in love, Dorothy?” Troy asked, interested.

“Oh, there were boys here and there, but no one serious. I was kind of skinny and straggly-looking when I was a kid in high school. My mother didn’t think make-up was good for the skin, so I couldn’t use it. Most of my friends did and looked very attractive. Guess boys didn’t find me too exciting. . . . Were you ever in love, Troy?” she asked suddenly.

“Who ever knows when love really hits you? I’ve always found I needed a girl to help me. When I was young, it was my mother. Then it was my kid sister Evy. There was a girl in high school and, when I came to California, there was Judi Meredith. Gee, she was lots of fun. I’ve sort of gone steady lots of times. I even asked Nan Morris to marry me. We’re kind of still seeing each other, but somehow I just can’t make the marriage scene . . . Sometimes I wish I were a farmer in a midwestern state. I’d probably get married tomorrow, and raise a half dozen kids. But, getting married before I’ve made it, well . . . I don’t know, Dorothy, it’s kind of scary. I’m really confused. Guess that’s why I come out to the beach. I feel all alone and so peaceful here. It’s the only place where I can come and think clearly.”

Let’s do it again

“Me, too,” Dorothy added. “It’s kind of like being on your own private island, with you as master and creator of whatever you want.” She paused for a long moment. “But, you know something, Troy?” she said looking up at the sky, still wondering if perhaps there was any truth to her childhood theory about where the stars went. “When I come out to the beach, because I want to be alone, I love thinking about the future, wondering what’s it going to be like, building castles in the sand.”

Troy picked his head up from her lap. The waves were getting higher and higher and the tide was moving closer to where they lay.

“Build enough today?” he asked.

Dorothy laughed. She stretched lazily to reach over to her beach bag and fish around in it for her watch. “Gosh, it’s five o’clock,” she exclaimed. She smoothed the sand castle with her toes. “We don’t want anyone else moving into it,” she laughed. She stood up and brushed off the sand. “I didn’t realize I’d been talking for so long.”

“Guess that’s a woman’s prerogative,” Troy teased. “It’s been great fun though—honest. Let’s do it again.”






1 Comment
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    22 Nisan 2023

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