Screen Album
Fall 1943

THEY were saying goodbye to him, and the words weren’t phony. The lump in the throat was really there. Hollywood knew Uncle Sam was getting a man. Not that we’d win the war just because Payne was in it; not that the services weren’t full of as good and better guys—he’d be the first to say that. Just that he had some convictions and a hell of a good right arm … A lot of things must have crowded his mind, as he packed, as he put away one life, prepared for another. Maybe he thought of his Bond Tours and how swell people were. Maybe he remembered the last day of “Hello, Frisco.” The gang toasting 1943 and Victory. And Johnny. Singing “Auld Lang Syne.” Even a big strong character feels like crying, a time like that . . . You can be sure he thought about Julie. Even if his marriage to Anne didn’t work out; even if there’d been a lot of ache in the whole business, you couldn’t regret too much. Not when you thought of Julie. Oh, you’d spanked her on occasion; she was no angel, but she was all the kid you wanted . . . Mom was rare, too. She made good, comfortable thinking . . . So gather up the memories and get on your way . . . . “So long,” said Hollywood. “See you soon,” said Mom . . . On his way . . . Now, Johnny’s won his flying cadet’s wings; he’s ready for the fight. A mag recently asked for some pictures of him in his flyer’s uniform. He protested. He was just a man doing a job like other men. He stood there and argued. Ah, kids, do we love that guy!