Hawaii, between the world wars, was truly a Garden of Eden. Blessed with a gentle climate, cool breezes and sandy beaches, Hawaii was a choice duty assignment for the officers and men of the United States Navy.
Lieutenant Tommie Massie, an Annapolis graduate and a young submarine officer, found it so, but his child bride Thalia (whom he had married when she was 16) found it a bore. To her, the life of a Navy wife was suffocating and meaningless and she had grown tired of the endless gossip and bridge games which filled the lives of her friends.
Thalia Massie was the daughter of the wealthy and socially prominent Fortescues of New York. Her mother, Grace Bell Fortescue, was related to Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone. Her father, a war correspondent and successful Broadway playwright, was a cousin of Teddy Roosevelt.
In 1931, after Thalia and Tommie took up residence in Honolulu and Thalia had done the usual sightseeing required of all new arrivals, she settled into a life which she found increasingly boring and meaningless.
One evening in September, Tommie returned home to their rented cottage in the hills above Honolulu and told his young wife they were going to a party at the Ala Wai Inn, a new night spot one of the officers had discovered. Thalia reacted to this announcement as though she had been told she needed dental work. “God, no, Tommie! Do we have to?” she begged. “I couldn’t stand it”. She pleaded a headache, but Tommie insisted that a night out would do her good. The discussion soon turned into a nasty argument with voices raised in anger, until Thalia in resignation muttered, “Oh, have it your way!” She changed into a party dress determined to have a dreadful time.