The story so far:
It was a brisk, early morning that day in 1936. Angelina was in the tiny, brightly painted lavatory, perched on the edge of the oval tub, lost in another world as she brushed out her golden hair with the wooden handled, coarse hairbrush. Her mother's rap at the door brought her back to reality. "Hurry on, now. If you're late, you will lose your job! Your lunch is on the landing." Angelina stood before the chipped mirror on the wall and sighed as she resorted to abiding by her mother's prompting. She had taken a job at the tuna packing factory a few miles from home to help support the family when she was just sixteen. It had been two years since she began her job and she knew she would never get an opportunity to go back to school after so long and at her age. Times were hard with wars and poverty abounding and every member of the family was expected to do his or her share to keep food on the table and shelter overhead. She quickly placed her neatly ribboned hair under the netting and quietly desended the staircase so as not to awaken the younger children in the household. Her mother met her at the bottom step and handed her the lunch of thickly cut meat on homemade wheat bread and an apple. "That's my girl," she beamed. Angelina grabbed her wool coat from it's place near the home's entranceway and proceded out the door.
The sun was just rising and the air was crisp against her cheeks. As she walked on, she daydreamed of getting an education, marrying a wealthy man and raising her own family. She wanted to run in any other direction but knew others depended on the fifteen cents a day she would earn at the factory. Nearing the shore she could smell the salted sea and just over the horizon caught a glimpse of the tuna fleet heading in towards the wharf. Her heart jumped as she realized that their homecoming meant far more work and money and ran excitedly the remaining way. The times the fisherman came home were always good times in the communtity. People celebrated with food and partying in the streets. The grocers could collect on three months of credit from the families, mortgages could be paid, families reunited and there were always an abundance of fascinating stories to be told about the dangers of the vast ocean wilderness.
The factory was buzzing with joy as she slipped her belongings into her small metal locker with no lock. Donning a freshly starched apron and thick rubber gloves, she joined her coworkers and friends on the lines. "Did you see the boats?" the girls were excitedly whispering to eachother. Their ages ranged from twelve to twenty-one. All were daughters of the fishing crew. All had similar families and stories to tell and all looked the same in their dresses, aprons, white shoes and hair nets. The beginning of the work shift was announced by a loudly blaring buzzer, but was cut short by a matronly voice bellowing from the upper level of the building. "The fleet is in!" it exclaimed. "Anyone who wants an extra shift can see me at break. If we get a good haul, each girl working twelve or more hours will earn ten cents more a day!" The girls cheered as they began to scale the hot steaming tuna on the steel tables before them. But the excitement was not limited to just the work and wages.....they all knew that this trip would bring in more than fish. Many young men recruited from the eastern seaboard would be about....young, eligible bachelors to dance with at the parties and bring them flowers....tanned, strong men with a future bringing with them the possibility for love.
She took her lunch with two other girls, nearer to the docks then the rest, and seated themselves on a sparse patch of grass. She wanted to be near the happy voices of the returning fisherman and smell their rich cigars on the sea air. The wharf was filled with cranes and large bins. Thousands of pounds of tuna poured into them and with each fill, cheers rang across the water's edge. In the near distance, a group of young men tossed about nets at one another and wrestled eachother to the ground. Their playfullness and laughter was contagious to the three girls as they watched and ate their meals. In their embarassment for being caught peeking, they lowered their heads and giggled. The sun blocked out over them as the shadows of the boys fell upon them. "Mother of Mary!" one of them exclaimed. "You ladies are the prettiest sights we've seen in a season!" The girls blushed at the comments of the admirers. They boys introduced themselves. Dominic was tall and strapping with a thick lock of wavy brown hair. He looked to be all of seventeen and had a winning smile that made her insides melt. Salvadore was thin and muscular and the sun glistened on his bare back. His hair was black as midnight and he sported a mustache. She guessed him to be about twenty. Sophie was about twenety-one. The oldest and wittiest of the group, his boyish looks seemed in line with his personality. He seemed to have more fun with this than the others and she felt put off by his brashness. She, Genevieve and Mary returned the introductions. The small group sat together and chatted for a while as the girls offered to share their meager meals. Sophie continually grinned in her direction making her feel uneasy as he refrained from contributing to polite conversation. His thick, slick, black hair and stunning blue eyes did not play to her affections.
The lunch horn blared over the streets and the girls excused themselves to return to work. "Will I see you at the festival?" Sophie asked her. Genevieve gently jabbed her in the side with her elbow, giggling. Angelina, however, had nothing to say and turned away, blushing indignantly as her co-workers followed. teh other girls waived at the boys as they fell out of sight. Watching as they walked away, Sophie made an announcement to his freinds. "I'm going to marry that girl!" he proclaimed. "Which one?" Dom asked. "Angelina...my angel, Angelina...." Sophie sang out, one arm outstretched in her diredtion and one hand over his heart. They laughed and slapped him on the back. "Oh. really?" Sal chided. "What about that little senorita back home?" "Who?" Sophie quipped, as he winked and grinned broadly.