My father adored her.
He joined the Navy in 1940 with dreams of becoming a pilot; he had his flight training in Jacksonville, Florida.
After successfully completing flight school, he flew transport planes for the US Navy during the war, hopping between Miami and Rio every few days.
Before he married my mother, he lived in a small house in Miami with three other US Navy pilots and a chimpanzee named Violet (she’s a whole different story), a charismatic group of flyboys who spent their evenings in the bars and nightclubs of Miami, slamming down drinks, appreciating the women and listening to jazz and swing bands that toured the area…Basie, Goodman, Dorsey, etc.
And then along came Ella Fitzgerald.
The first time he heard her sing, my father was transported.
He spent an entire night at a little table in a nightclub, smoking Chesterfields, sipping Manhattans and listening to a voice that left him speechless.
When she took a break between sets, my father (emboldened, I’m sure, by the alcohol), approached her, asked if he could buy her a drink.
She said yes.
He never could remember what she had to drink; he remembered her eyes and her laugh and her voice.