"Too Much of a Good Thing"

York, PA

Back in 1955, after enlisting in the Army, finishing basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C.,, transferring to the Army Security Agency, sent off to Fort Devens, Mass. (near the quaint New England town of Ayer, Mass.) for specialized training, and settling in to New England barracks and social life, my buddies and I discovered some of the mysteries with regard to the local culture: we experienced driving to “Ghost Hill,” where one could stop at a rural intersection, put one’s gearshift in neutral and coast up an incline in the road repealing the law of gravity; that a soft drink was called “tonic”; a milkshake was a “frappe”; and pleasantly learned that with all the women’s colleges in the area it was a “target-rich” environment. Quite a bit for a young warrior 19 years of age to digest. Also, we quickly acquainted ourselves with the many dance halls located around Boston and Lowell, Mass., along with close-by Fitchburg, N.H.
One of my barracks chums thought he was in love after an evening of dancing and small talk with one of the local sweet young things and wanted (needed) badly to see his latest heartthrob soon and often. One glitch was that he neglected to learn her full name and knew her only as “Mary,” and no matter how hard and often he tried, he couldn’t find her. A few of us decided to help with the search. She was hidden in plain sight!
All New England’s demographics showed that Massachusetts was second only to Rhode Island in U.S. Catholic population and numbered around 44 to 50 percent where countless offspring are named after saints. Going back to the same dance hall, we found not one but dozens of Marys but, alas, never the Mary we yearned to find. There was just “Too Much of a Good Thing!” Try finding a particular girl named Mary in the Boston area! We never did!

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