Pamela Makes It Perfect—June Allyson
I had two wedding anniversaries to my credit when I met June Allyson Powell, and she was still a starry-eyed bride.
But we clicked from the moment of that first meeting, for we had one extremely important thing in common.
June wanted a baby more than anything in the world, and so did I. Now, of course, we have even a stronger bond in common—our daughters.
There is nothing more beautiful to see in our town these days (except, of course, the picture of my own nineteen-month-old Missy trying to stretch her little toes to reach the pedals of her new tricycle), than the glow which surrounds Junie and Dick whenever they are in the presence of their little Pamela.
Babies are magic to my mind; they make good people better; they make good marriages perfect—they’re vital to any full life—even a life as filled with success and honors as June’s. Our marriage, for instance, and the Powells’.
Years ago, when I read that June and Dick were married, I couldn’t wait to meet her. George and I had known Dick for some time, and we were very fond of him. And I had seen June in “Best Foot Forward” and thought that she was charming.
Dick was a guest on my radio show one night, a few weeks after their marriage. I was delighted when he asked George and me to have dinner afterward, to meet his new wife.
June drove down to the broadcast studio to join us, and she was standing in the wings when Dick and I came offstage.
There was an awkward moment when June and I came face to face. We were both done up to the teeth for our big dinner date, each of us in her best dress, which, incidentally, had nicked our individual budgets for quite a bit. There was just one little hitch. It was the same dress!
I stared at June and June stared at me while Dick blandly proceeded to introduce us. I guess men just don’t notice things like that.
June started to giggle and I did, too. Dick looked at us as though he thought we were tetched. And then he caught on. “We’d better get out of here fast,” he said.
And we tore for the parking lot, laughing like crazy. The whole evening was like that.
Later, June and I marched into the Players Restaurant with our two handsome husbands, by now willing to pretend that we had planned to get ourselves up as twins. But we couldn’t stop laughing.
We went for a drive after dinner. George and I just that day had picked up our new convertible.
We drove up the steepest of the Hollywood Hills, we said to look at the view, but really to show what our fine new ear could do, and midway, it stalled dead. Dick and George were out in the street, muttering over the motor, sweating and swearing while June and I sat in the back seat trying to look sympathetic.
It was a wonderful beginning for what was to become one of my fondest friendships. We’d all had such fun that we invited the Powells to our house the next Sunday night for supper.
I had let the help off for the evening, it’s always more cozy that way, and June and I cooked. We had a ball. Junie can cook! Almost as well as she can eat. Even Dick watched her with amazement that night. You wouldn’t think such a mite could put away so much food.
I offered to show June around the house. It was all very gay until we got to the very special room George had built upstairs. It was the nursery.
“So far,” I told June, “strictly on hope.”
“Oh, me, too,” said June, her happy little face suddenly solemn. “I want a ‘baby more than anything in the world.” ‘We talked about nothing else all night.
Both of us were certain, absolutely certain, that we would make absolutely faultless mothers. We had it all worked out.
By a miraculous coincidence I discovered during the next few days that maybe George and I were going to have a baby. I rushed off to my doctor on Friday. He said it was too soon to be sure.
Sunday night, just one week after the exchange of confidences, our phone rang.
“Din—ah!” June Powell’s voice came accusingly over the line. “All that talk, land you knew all the time.”
“Knew what?” I gasped.
“That you were going to have a baby. Winchell just announced it on the air. Is it true?” she demanded.
“I . . . I really don’t know,” I faltered, but I can find out.” At this, the old Allyson giggle broke us up. I telephoned my doctor. “Is it true,” I said, “what Winchell says about George and me?”
He laughed. “I couldn’t make a liar out of Winchell . . . yes,” he told me.
“George, George,” I shouted, “it’s true. He says it’s true.”
George telephoned Dick Powell to confirm W.W.’s scoop. June came out the next day with a present for the baby. She would.
Of course, I couldn’t talk about anything else but my big news. Until I saw that June’s crinkly blue eyes were filled with tears. Then I tried to change the subject. I think June started begging Dick that very day to agree to adopting a baby.
“I’ve just got to have a baby,” she said, “I can’t wait.”
I think Dick may have demurred at first. June was so young, not much more than a child herself. But June was not to be put off. Very soon, the Dick Powells were on the waiting list of a famous adoption agency in the South.
Junie came to all of my showers, in wonderful spirits. She was going to have a baby, too. Richard had promised.
And then our Missy was born and I didn’t see June or Richard for awhile. The first time was at a party at their house, when Missy was a few weeks old. June was a perfect hostess, as usual, but I felt there was a certain sadness under her gaiety that night. She sat for a while curled up in a big tufted armchair, Patrick, her poodle, in her lap. And she seemed far away, lost in her secret thoughts. She explained it to me afterwards, when we were alone for a moment. The gossip columnists had been wagging their tongues about her marriage; she and Richard had been quarrelling, they had said. It wasn’t true.
“We have our spats, of course,” Junie told me. “All married people do. But we never quarrel. . . . why Richard is the sweetest, the most thoughtful. . . .”
But that wasn’t what was worrying her. She and Dick were secure in their marriage; they needn’t care what the gossips said. Except, and this was what really hurt, June was afraid the rumors would hurt her chances of getting a baby. I could have cried. I know the helpless feeling you have when anyone writes something about you which may jeopardize a relationship or a situation. George and I have been through it. We like all the newspaper people we know, and I don’t think they would print those things without checking, if they really understood what damage just a few idle words can do.
All I could say to June was that I was sure the agency wouldn’t pay any attention to malicious gossip. Her chances, I said, were as good as ever. Five more long months went by, though, before June’s wish came true.
The agency called. They had the perfect baby for the Powells. A little girl, just a month old, she had reddish-blonde hair, and crinkly blue eyes, like June’s. She would arrive by plane, with a nurse, in eight days.
June was in the middle of the production of “Little Women.” But she and Dick worked frantically nights and on her Sunday off to get the nursery and equipment ready for their new daughter.
June was working when the baby’s plane arrived, and it broke her heart that Dick drove out to the airport alone.
I have never seen anything like June that night. She couldn’t sit still. She couldn’t get out a whole sentence.
“We’re so lucky, she’s so perfect, so darling, so utterly dear. . . .”
She was too excited to notice that it was Dick who phoned out for extra bottles and supplies, that it was Dick who helped make up the formula and instructed the new nurse. June was almost afraid to touch her little girl, afraid she might break her.
After Pamela’s arrival, June’s and w friendship turned into an endless competition. Missy had three teeth. Pamela’ first one, you could feel it, sharp as any thing, under her gums, was coming through.
Pamela had a six months birthday and June pasted a bow in her soft fuzz of hair with Scotch tape.
“Oh,” I said smugly, “Missy has lots of hair.”
Pamela said Ma-ma and Da-da wit she was only ten months old.
Missy, who was four months older hadn’t tried anything more difficult than “goo.”
“But,” I said, “she can fasten and unfasten the clasp on my bracelet. She has excellent motor control, wonderful coordination. She’ll probably be a fine tennis player, a dancer. . . .”
At eleven months Pamela started to walk! Missy was just taking her first steps, too. I had to agree with June that her baby was as much of a genius as Missy.
June started planning Pam’s christening party while her daughter was still in her bassinette. She had never wanted anything half so grand for herself. Her own childhood, I know, was hard, there wasn’t much money, and for two long years she was in an uncomfortable brace as the result of a back injury. The big moments in her own life had been impressive only in the sense of her own inner happiness. Her marriage ceremony, for instance, was simple and unostentatious. But for Pamela things were going to be different.
She and Richard invited everybody they knew to the church christening and to a reception afterward at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Dick, as a surprise, had engaged Don Loper to make Junie’s dress for the christening, an enchanting full-skirted brown taffeta with a yoke and round collar of white lace.
Pamela was divine at the christening. Everybody else was tired and nervous from all the elaborate preparations, but Pammie took it all in stride. After the ceremony, when the photographers converged for pictures, Pamela smiled like a little trouper right into the cameras. She allowed herself to be moved from one person to another without protest; she obviously loved all the fuss. And she slept contentedly all the way home.
A few of us went out to dinner afterward. I watched Dick’s face as he looked at his wife. He was so proud.
“Wasn’t Pamela perfect?” June sighed.
She was. And so were her parents.
Everything is perfect, now that there is Pamela.
—BY DINAH SHORE
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE MARCH 1950