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Story 3: Life Goes On


"This is a first in the history of academe," Dean Hutchins said with a chuckle. "I don't believe a chair has ever before been occupied by the person in whose *memory* it was created. After all, when the Roy Hinkley professorship was endowed, its namesake was presumed lost forever in the S.S. Minnow disaster. Instead, we've been fortunate enough to welcome him back into our community.

"So I am pleased and honored -- and not a little surprised -- to be able to present Dr. Roy Hinkley as the new Roy Hinkley Professor of Sciences."

Roy Hinkley -- very much alive -- approached the lectern to thunderous applause, shaking the dean's hand. "Speech! Speech!" came the cry from his students and some of the younger faculty members.

"Thank you, Dean Hutchins, and thank you all," said the man known for so many years only as "the Professor." "In all those years away from civilization, I dreamed of returning to the university and resuming my research and my teaching. I never dreamed of being so honored.

"In those dreams, I saw myself alone with my work. Instead, I have been blessed to share this moment with a beloved companion: my dear wife, Mary Ann."

Mary Ann sat on the platform beside the dean, beaming. The Professor looked so handsome in his academic robes, and she was close to bursting with pride. As her husband continued his speech -- after a loving look at her -- she thought back to that last year on the island.


It was during their honeymoon that she had spoken. "Roy?"

"Yes, my love?"

"Sweetheart, I don't know when we'll be rescued, but I know one thing. Well, actually, two. I want to be with you forever, and I want to go back to school. Someday I want to work with you. I've learned so much from you, and I want to learn more."

"Darling," the Professor exclaimed, "it's what I've dreamed of! We don't have to wait until we're rescued. We can work together here on the island. I'll teach you all I know."

Mary Ann surprised both herself and the Professor in the weeks that followed. Steered into practical courses in high school -- home economics, business math -- by a family that couldn't afford to send her to college, she'd never had a chance to discover what her mind was capable of. With her husband's guidance, however, she began to display an incredible head for science and a photographic memory -- and an intelligence to rival his own.

"Mary Ann, this is amazing," said the Professor, surveying a paper of chemistry equations she had just completed. "You are the brightest student I have ever had."

"Are you sure you aren't just a little prejudiced?" she said, smiling. "Being in love with me, and all?"

"No!" he said. "Absolutely not. You're a farmer, Mary Ann. What happens to a seed that lands on rock -- barren, cold rock?"

"Nothing. It can't grow there."

"Exactly! We'll never know -- it will never know -- how tall it can grow, how beautifully it can bloom, what rich fruit it can yield. But transplant it to fertile soil, and that potential is unleashed. Your intellect is like that seed. For years it lay on rock. Now it's in the soil, and it's flourishing. I am astounded -- and thrilled."

"Oh, I'm so glad," said Mary Ann. "I was worried that I wouldn't be able to be the partner you've dreamed of. But maybe I can."

"Forget maybe, my love," he said. "You're already there."


It was Mary Ann who persuaded the Professor to reattempt a rescue effort that had been aborted by Gilligan years earlier: a phosphorescent dye marker to be launched on a raft to attract the attention of passing ships. She suggested some changes that would make the marker more durable -- and less palatable to Gilligan.

It worked. A freighter saw the signal and alerted the Coast Guard, which came to the castaways' rescue. They were going home!

The seven never forgot those heady moments: the triumphant entry into Honolulu Harbor, the bands, the crowds, the tearful goodbyes. They knew, however, that this wasn't the end. These friendships forged over years would never die, and they would have many reunions.


The Professor, Mary Ann by his side, was welcomed back to the university with open arms. The current holder of the Roy Hinkley professorship graciously relinquished it to its namesake.

Thanks to all her husband had taught her on the island, Mary Ann was able to obtain her college diploma by taking a battery of tests, and was ready to study for a graduate degree in botany. Inspired by the Professor's herbal formula that had saved their marriage, she had decided to pursue her studies in the medicinal properties of tropical plants.

The degree could wait, though. Stronger than Mary Ann's desire to continue her education right away was the couple's dream of starting a family. Two years after their rescue, Mary Ann gave birth to their first child, a girl. Remembering their long wait for this moment, they named her Patience.


Just when the Hinkleys thought life couldn't get any better, it did. An international pharmaceutical firm bought the Professor's herbal contraceptive formula. While the infamous Pill was enjoying great popularity, there was an enormous market for an all-natural alternative. All things natural, organic and herbal had become incredibly popular while the castaways were away.

The Hinkleys were suddenly wealthy -- not Howell wealthy, but free of worries about how they'd finance schooling for Patience and any future children. They invested most of the windfall but used part of it to buy a small farm about three miles from the university, where Mary Ann raised vegetables and chickens and kept the students well supplied with fresh produce, eggs, and home-baked bread. They converted a spare bedroom in the old farmhouse to a lab so that Mary Ann could resume her studies and stay home with the baby.

Mary Ann juggled her schoolwork, child care, and farm chores with an amazing ease. "Dearest, you're working too hard," her husband cautioned once. "No, Roy, I'm a farm girl," she replied, smiling. "It's in my blood."


When Patience Ann was 2 years old, her parents announced that she would soon have a little brother or sister. Both, it turned out. One June day, the family welcomed twins: a boy and a girl, whom the Professor and Mary Ann named in honor of their castaway friends. Their son was called Jonas Gilligan Howell Hinkley, and his twin was christened Eunice Grant Hinkley. Patience, who had inherited her father's intellect and her mother's sweetness, was the perfect big sister.

Patience was 7 going on 8 and the twins were 5 when they first accompanied their parents to Hawaii for the annual S.S. Minnow reunion. In the past, they'd been left with Mary Ann's relatives in Kansas. For the first time, the twins met their many namesakes and were instantly taken with them. The feeling was mutual.

One quiet afternoon during that happy reunion week, the Professor and Mary Ann sat on the beach, watching Eunice and Jonas play in the sand. Patience -- who since kindergarten had insisted on being called Patty -- was off gathering seashells.

Little Eunice had been wearing a thoughtful expression all afternoon. Suddenly, she ran up to her parents.

"Mommy, you said I was named after Mrs. Howell. But nobody calls her Eunice. Mr. Howell calls her Lovey. Can't I be Lovey too?"

Mary Ann smiled and hugged her daughter. "Yes, I like that. After all, you are *my* Lovey."

Her brother wasn't far behind. "And I want to be Skipper, like Mr. Grumby. Nobody calls him Jonas."

"Yes, of course, sweetheart," said Mary Ann, making room in her arms for the little boy. "You look like a Skipper."

The newly nicknamed pair ran off, pleased and satisfied. The Professor chuckled.

"What is it, my love?" Mary Ann asked, taking his arm.

"Well, you know a father has dreams for his son. I was just picturing the Nobel Committee presenting its latest prize winner in chemistry, Skipper Hinkley."

"And he receives a congratulatory call from the United States' first woman commander in chief, President Lovey Hinkley," said Mary Ann, grinning. "These things have a way of working themselves out."


The Hinkleys' little farm had become a favorite hangout for their students. The Professor had a retinue of graduate students -- including Mary Ann -- assisting him in his research. And Mary Ann was teaching several sections of undergraduate botany.

The young people came for help with their coursework, for the always-stimulating conversation, for Mary Ann's cooking, and for the warm family atmosphere.

The best times came late in the evening when the books were closed, the children were in bed, and the Professor and Mary Ann shared stories of their years on the island. Always, the same name came up again and again: Gilligan, Gilligan, Gilligan.

"Remember when the space capsule was passing over, and we spelled out SOS with flaming tree trunks?" Mary Ann would say.

"Yes, and Gilligan kicked over one of the logs, and it ended up saying SOL," the Professor finished. "One of the astronauts was named Sol and thought it was for him!"

After a long evening of such stories, Larry, a New Yorker working on his master's in physics, asked, "So is this Gilligan dude still alive?"

"Yes, of course," the couple said in unison.

"Man, if I'd been there," Larry joked, "I would have killed him!" The others chimed in with their own quips. "And eaten him! A nice change from coconuts!" "Nah, look at that picture -- no meat on those bones!"

Laura Jean, a sweet blond undergraduate who wanted to be a marine biologist, hadn't joined in the "why didn't you kill him?" chorus. "I would like to meet him," she said softly, gazing at the photo of the castaways on the mantel. ``He sounds so funny."

"Me, too, and Mr. Howell!" said Bryan, a Ph.D candidate in chemistry. "I want to find out why he thinks 'Hahvahd' is so great." Bryan had gotten his bachelor's degree at Yale.

"Roy, why not?" Mary Ann said suddenly.

"Why not what, dear?"

"Why not have the next Minnow reunion here? The students would love to meet our friends, and I'd love to show the house off. You'll all be around this summer, won't you?" she asked the group, and all nodded yes.


In July, all the castaways converged on the Hinkley home, and the students finally got to meet the people they'd been hearing so much about. Mr. Howell brought a few bottles of his prized "bubbly" for a belated celebration; that spring, Mary Ann had received her Ph.D.

"So should we call you Professor and Professor now?" asked Ginger.

"No, I'm not a professor, just an instructor," said Mary Ann. "We are Doctor and Doctor now -- but I'd rather you call me what you always have: just plain Mary Ann."

After dinner, Mary Ann and 9-year-old Patty served the traditional castaway reunion dessert: coconut cream pie.

``You know, when we were rescued,'' said the Skipper, helping himself to seconds, ``I never wanted to see another coconut again as long as I lived. But I'll always make an exception for Mary Ann's delicious coconut cream pies.''

``Oh, but I didn't make this one, Skipper,'' said Mary Ann. ``Patty did.''

``She did? Sweetheart, this pie is every bit as good as your mother's.''

Patty blushed. ``Mom's a good teacher,'' she said shyly.

``Or maybe it's in the genes,'' said the Professor, putting one arm around his elder daughter and the other around his wife. ``Say, Tim, there's a thesis topic for you.'' Tim was one of Mary Ann's undergraduates, a double major in biology and psychology. ``Is coconut cream pie-baking talent determined by heredity or environment?''

``Hey, there's an idea,'' said Tim. ``Patty, will you be my guinea pig?''

``Sure,'' said the girl, ``as long as you don't have to, uh, dissect me or anything.''

``No, I'll just need your blooood!'' said Tim in a Count Dracula voice, leaning toward her with mock menace. Patty shrank back and shrieked in feigned terror, then dissolved into giggles.


The beer, wine, lemonade and island stories flowed late into the night. Suddenly, the Skipper realized that his little buddy was missing.

``Where's Gilligan?" he demanded.

``And where's Laura Jean?" asked Bryan, who was scheduled to drive her home.

``Hmmm," said the Professor. ``I wonder ..."

``Stop wondering, darling," said Mary Ann, peeking out the window at two distant figures walking by the garden. ``They're fine."

Nobody was surprised when a few weeks later, Laura Jean announced that she was transferring to the University of Hawaii. It had a great marine biology program, she explained, a little too eagerly. Mary Ann and the Professor smiled. It was about time their ``little buddy" found a special buddy of his own.

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