My father, Ambrose, Richard, and even Noah, watched me load my bags into the back of Frankie’s Coupe DeVille. Frankie was older than the yard. He began his career when my grandfather built the business and stayed when my father took over. Nobody but me called him Frankie. He had to drive to Boston to retrieve parts for a boat repair. The parts had been lost in transit, twice, and Frankie wasn’t taking any chances on a third time. It just so happened that his mission coincided with my scheduled departure to college. I leaned out the window, as far as I could, and waved until we crested the hill and I couldn’t see them anymore. I was sadly excited and relieved to have Frankie’s solid comfort in the driver’s seat beside me.
College was not at all what I had hoped for. I wasn’t as giddy from freedom as the rest of the kids my age. I did not adapt well. The girls were silly and helpless. The boys were wastrel bores who had nothing to teach me. I could drink most of them under the table and work harder than all of them combined. The environment was strange, a landlocked, bucolic little place, with a bunch of stuffy brick buildings interrupted by orderly quads and greens. For a short while I thought I might learn something useful. I lived for breaks and summer vacation. I couldn’t get my bags packed and my thumb stuck out fast enough to get me home to the yard and the people I cared about.
My father, using Ambrose as a conduit, hoped to establish me in the sales office. I was having no part of it. I spent three quarters of the year trapped inside and I was not going to spend my summers confined to an office. Ambrose told me, “Lucy, you can’t live your life in the yard, there’s no future in it.” It was too late. From their examples, I’d learned to plot my own course.