Then the music played

Donald Kennedy Gillespie

Editor’s note: This is the second portion of Chapter Two of the book “My Dear Jen,” written by Rosamond Gillespie Burns and George H. Burns III. This is another of a continuing series, which takes readers back to the struggles of World War I.

Soon the band resumed with the haunting love song, “My Melancholy Baby.” Elsie’s friend introduced Jen to Don Gillespie, a handsome 5-foot-10 fellow with sandy blonde hair and deep blue eyes. He led her to the dance floor and they began a sensuous fox trot as the vocalist sang, “Come to me, my melancholy baby. Cuddle up and don’t feel blue.” Jen closed her eyes as Don drew her softness close to him. Her heart burst with a new found emotion as they danced cheek to cheek, the warmth radiating between their bodies.

They did not want to part and have another fellow cut in and break the spell, so Don suggested they leave the building and go for a walk along the beach. Carrying their shoes, they walked barefoot across the cool sand to the water’s edge. The moonlight made a silvery path across the water reflecting on Jen’s lovely face. Don drew her body close to him and began kissing her neck, her closed eyes, and softly on her moist, waiting lips. She felt a rising passion within her.

“I knew at that moment that this was the one, the man of my dreams. I fell for him right away. Holding hands we strolled along the beach for a long time until I knew I had to leave before Pop caught me out again. Returning to the hall I bid Elsie a goodnight and told her that Don was escorting me home on the trolley.”

“I discovered that Don lived on 95th Street, only seven blocks away from my home on 88th Street.

“Don wanted to get off the trolley and escort me to my door, but I explained that it wouldn’t be a good idea, since Pop might be waiting for me on the front porch. Going out dancing was sin enough, but to come home with a suitor would bring down even a greater wrath upon me. We planned to meet the following evening. After I walked home from the trolley, I went right up to bed. Thankfully, Pop was not home yet.”

“I laid awake for a long time reliving what had happened on the beach. I felt the warmth within me. Don was exciting and comfortable to be with. He was the one, the one who opened up my heart so I could express true passion and love for another.”

The next day Jen did the usual chores around the house with more enthusiasm than usual, anticipating that in the evening, she would be with Don.

“I dressed in my prettiest dress and hat and boarded the trolley to our meeting place, a small Italian restaurant several blocks away. As I entered the restaurant I noticed that Don was already there. He had chosen a table near the back of the room surrounded by ferns and bathed in soft light. He stood as I came towards him and, with a mutual hug, we sat down. Don took my hands into his as we gazed into each other’s eyes. It was undeniable. The chemistry was there and strong. The evening was spent getting to know each other. When I found out that he was Catholic, I knew there would be extra problems to overcome in our courtship.”

“We dated as many times as I could slip away. Sometimes we went to a club called Doc Creases frequented by tough guys from New York City. One night there was a shoot-out and Don had to flip over a table to protect us from flying bullets!”

“The love we felt for each other was undeniable and grew to the point where I knew that Don was the man I wanted to marry. He was very handsome and smart with a personality and charisma that drew people to him. I was anxious for my family to meet him. I knew that when they got to know him that they would like him, regardless of his religion.”

Jen invited Don to Sunday dinner hoping that the family would accept him. Previously she had informed her parents about Don’s background.

His heritage went back to Ireland in the 1800’s when his grandparents John Gillespie and Mary McFadden, his grandparents parents, were married in 1830. Donald Kennedy Gillespie was born on November 5, 1890 in Mount Vernon, New York to Daniel Gillespie and Mary Tierney Gillespie. He has a younger brother, Jack. Don attended P.S. # 108 and graduated from the Borough of Brooklyn on January 31, 1905. He was an excellent student and an avid reader.

Unfortunately, Don and his brother lost their mother when they were only ten and eleven years old. Their father did not want them brought up by a step-mother, so he never remarried. The young boys were raised by a series of aunts who continued their upbringing in the Catholic religion. Their father, an absentee parent, became a heavy drinker.