Summertime, 1962, my Dad was sitting on the living room floor, in front of the TV, with the usual bottle of Miller High Life, big ashtray, and pack of Winston cigarettes. He was committing the sacred act of routing for the Cincinnati Reds.
I asked him if I could call Marilyn Monroe and talk to her. He told me to get the phone book, and he'd show me how to find her number. I came back from the kitchen with it, and sat down on the floor next to him, knowing not to speak until the next commercial, as to not interrupt the game.
During the commercial, he opened the phone book and demonstrated how to go about it, by finding himself. He said, "When you look up a person, you start with the last name." He showed me how to leaf through the pages until we found the letter 'S,' and then we found the listing column with all the people named 'Spencer.' His right index finger guided us to his name. "See here? 'Spencer.' Now, you look for the first name. Start at the letter 'A,' and keep looking until you find my name. Here it is, 'Charles.' Now go accross. See our address? '7787 Dubois Road, Carlisle.' Now follow the dots all the way to the right of the page, and there's our number. '746-6680.' See? Do you understand?" I nodded my head with excitement, because I knew at that moment that I had the power to find anyone!
He said, "Now -- show me how you'd find Marilyn Monroe. I turned the pages until I found the letter 'M,' looked for the listings for 'Monroe,' and guided my left index finger down the column, looking for 'Marilyn.' It wasn't there, but there were several 'Monroes' listed.
"Well, I guess you're going to have to call all of these numbers until you find her," he said. We went to the kitchen and began to set up my project for the afternoon. I climbed into my brother's high-chair, so that I could reach the rotary dial on the wall phone by the table. With the phone book spread open, he handed me a pencil. I was to start with the first person on the page named 'Monroe,' and if it was the wrong number, I was to cross off the name, and go to the next one.
He reminded me to be very polite and always say 'please, and thank you.' That way, if I called the wrong number, they wouldn't mind that I'd disturbed them.
I dialed the first person named Monroe. The thought of actually speaking to Marilyn, made my fingers shake nervously, and I could hardly dial the number! Listening to the ringing signal, I inhaled and held my breath, getting ready to speak. From that split second between the person picking up the phone and saying, "Hello," I thought that I was going to faint! The voice was of an older woman. I began my search by saying, "Hello, is this the Monroe residence?" "Yes it is," she said. With my most proper voice, I asked, "May I speak to Marilyn, please?" She laughed and said, "No, little girl. Marilyn doesn't live here. You've got the wrong number." I thanked her, said 'good-bye,' hung up the phone. After crossing off the number in the phone book, I would dial the next number, and get the same results.
Each time I hung up the phone, I'd yell, "She wasn't there, Daddy!" He would yell back, "Well try the next one, honey."
From the high-chair at the kitchen table, I could see my dad sitting on the couch, through the doorway that separated the kitchen from the living room. Although he was watching the game, he would giggle every time I asked for Marilyn. The person on the other end of the phone would laugh, too. I failed to see the humor in it.
During the commercials, he came into the kitchen to throw away an empty beer bottle and get another cold one out of the refrigerator. He would say, "Did you find her, yet?" Then he would look at the column in the phone book to see how many names were marked off, and tell me what a good job I was doing.