Venial Sin

By Bernard Lehrer

In late 1943 I was number 10 of a class of 21 at Groton, Radio Engineering School. I made RT2 upon graduation. 

Waiting for an assignment I was temporarily stationed at the Coast Guard Base at St. George, New York doing desk work. Being just a Ferry Boat ride from New York City I regularly visited the USO "Music Box Canteen" on 5th Avenue where the girls came in four hour shifts. We could sit back and have them serve us goodies and dance the Lindy to our hearts content. 

I became involved with a 5th Avenue debutante who threw a huge New Year's party for all of us in her upscale apartment on 5th Avenue. A Navy man challenged me to a drinking contest, one shot of everything on the bar in a huge tumbler. Of course I had to take him up on it. I had to crawl to the space behind the couch in the living room.  I was AWOL and again put on report.  But that's another story.

Orders came through for me to report to Seattle pending transfer to Alaska and the Aleutians.  I managed to get a leave so I could visit my relatives in Los Angeles enroute. Rumor had it  there was some wild action on Vine Street and decided to look see. My aunt wisely told me to leave most of my money with her before leaving. 

Sitting at the bar a lady became  very friendly and I assumed she was just being patriotic. She said her girlfriend had a Marine in tow who just came back from the Pacific loaded with back pay and we could continue the party at his suite of rooms at old Hollywood Hotel. We managed to sneak the ladies in while the desk wasn't looking had the bell hop bring us a couple of bottles of booze. 

There were two bedrooms separated by a bathroom. After joking and drinking we each retired to a separate bedroom and I commenced chasing the girl, who was coyly resisting me. After a short while I became exhausted and fell on the bed where, I believe, she relented. My memory is cloudy on what happened immediately afterwards. 

The next morning the ladies were gone. Our pants were turned inside out and empty. The Marine was very casual about it in spite of losing his whole stash. I made it down to the street and stood on the corner. I must have  looked like hell standing there because no more than three minutes passed and the Shore Patrol had me in tow. They took me to the Hollywood Police station where the girl on the second floor took the report and issued me temporary identification. 

She said that in Los Angeles alone there were 600 filings like this each day. 


Next "Rosie the Riveter" in Seattle.  But that's another story.

Bernard Lehrer is an attorney in Ventura, California..


Return To Coast Guard Stories