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Rose Fenny

Eddie Birdlace

San Francisco


Eleanor Roosevelt

Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

"If someone dumps on me five pounds, I dump back fifty - all right?"

Edward Baines
KNOWN AS : "Birdlace"
"Corporal Birdlace"
"Bird Shit"
FATHER : Unspecified
MOTHER : Unspecified
SIBLINGS : Unspecified
BEST FRIEND : Rose Fenny

Born Edward Baines Birdlace on November 26, 1944, Eddie's family relocated to Missouri when he was sixteen-years-old. Upon their arrival, Eddie decided on a military career for himself and tried to join the Air Force. Eventually though, he would choose the Marines after hearing that Eleanor Roosevelt had described marines as "over-sexed, over-trained, underfed, underpaid killing machines."

Eddie has a tattoo on his right hand, which he calls his "blue bird of happiness" and he describes both himself and marines in general as "jar-heads". In November 1963, he was shipped out by the military to Okinawa and Eddie was hoping that he would soon be posted to Vietnam where he believes, his group can become "advisors." Indeed, he expects to be back home within a matter of a few months.

Lining up to attention in alphabetical order during ITR training, Eddie Birdlace became friends with three other marines - Benjamin, Berzin and Bill. They soon took to calling themselves "The Four Bees."

Looking for fun on their final night in San Francisco before being shipped out, this close group of marines organized a dogfight contest. Eddie initially experienced difficulty finding a suitable date but whilst taking shelter from the rain in a small café, he overhears the waitress, Rose, practicing her singing and guitar playing. Determined to bring the ugliest date to the party and win first prize, Eddie invited her along.

Rose, who is never invited out, was extremely pleased to attend the party. However, she is surprised by how differently Eddie behaves in the company of his friends and she particularly objects to his heavy drinking. With the contest actually fixed, Eddie didn't win first prize but did receive $26 and an honorable mention when Rose was sick in the toilets. She soon learns about the dogfight competition.

All in all, it was an extraordinary night for Rose - it is not only the first time that a boy asks her out but also the first time that she punches someone in the face.

With the party over, the other three marines go off to get their tattoos. In a symbolic gesture of comradeship the Four Bees had all decided to each have a bee tattooed on their arms. However, Eddie spent the rest of the night trying to make up for the way he treated Rose and would miss out on getting his tattoo.

After an intimate evening together, Rose gives Eddie her address, hoping he will write. But back in the influence of his marine friends, both her address and the memories of their enjoyable evening together are quickly discarded. Instead, Eddie boasts that he spent the night with a thirty-two-year-old Officer's wife, much to the delight of his companions.

Eddie Birdlace eventually did get posted to Vietnam. The regiment in which The Four Bee's served was posted to the Chu Lai area of South Vietnam in 1966. They were soon attacked. Of the original Four Bees, Eddie Birdlace was the only one to return to the United States alive.

Eddie returned to Rose's café when he arrived back home for an emotional reunion with her. But his very first port of call when he got home was to visit a tattoo artist. He knew exactly which design he wanted - a bee.

He got four of them.

"Oh, hey - my apologies.... I'm not used to being around ladies."

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