Author's Note: This tale was written as a little gift from the heart. I wanted to add to the stockpile of the many well wishes and congratulations being given to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the debut of what I fondly feel is one of the greatest TV shows in history – Gilligan's Island! It was my intention to mirror the lighthearted and comical nature of the characters and the show, as best possible with limited writing skills. I'm sure I have not captured everything exactly right, so please remember that, as with any gift, it's the thought that counts!
CHAPTER 1 – ANOTHER YEAR
Every one of the castaways knew what day it was, yet no one wanted to speak of it. Not one of them had the heart to face the fact that yet another year had passed, and they remained stranded, there on that uncharted desert isle. They had been there for such a long, long time…
They had learned to manage well over the years and, for the most part, their spirits remained high, and hopeful of a future rescue. Individually, they each tried to appreciate what they could pinpoint to be positive aspects of their isolated home, despite their longing for a return to their former lives. The Professor missed the interactions with his colleagues and students, and little things about civilization, like the hustle and bustle at the reference desk at the library on a Saturday night. Yet their current location and status afforded him a plentiful source of botanical specimens to catalog and study, as well as the time to do so. Mary Ann was still missing her family terribly of course, but admitted to herself that, there on the island, she was able to experience a certain type of independence that she could never have back on the farm. Gilligan too missed his family, and often talked about his friends from home. However he was able to find adventure on the island, no matter where he went, and he had come to know every inch of it very well. He had befriended many of the island's animal inhabitants and was always discovering new things that brought him joy, such as neat rocks and nifty bird's eggs.
Others were more expressive about their desire to get off the island. Mr. and Mrs. Howell were able to convince themselves from time to time that they were really on some type of vacation of sorts, just without the servants. However, Mrs. Howell greatly missed the social interactions and functions of high society, and Mr. Howell would get his spirit set aflame morning after morning as he was able to listen to the rise and fall of the stock prices on the daily news, but was powerless to participate in the market. Ginger, while being sure to practice her acting craft as best she could during their tropical exile, yearned for a return to Hollywood and her adoring fans. The Skipper kept focused with his ongoing duties, but was quite vocal about the things he missed back home – particularly mentioning his longings for a thick, juicy steak that he knew could be found back on the mainland.
Nevertheless, no matter what their personal levels of contentment were there on the island, they all functioned reasonably well until this one particular day of the year rolled around. It fell over them like an oppressive blanket of sadness, and until it passed, it was as if they were all moving in slow motion.
Everyone sat around the table at breakfast that morning, chatting with one other as they would on any other day. Although the content of the banter seemed normal enough, the discouragement in the air was palpable. With the radio playing in the background, they talked of everything under the sun except what was really on their minds. The Skipper was rambling on about repairing the lobster traps, and Gilligan just kept saying, "… yes, Skipper… yes, Skipper," absentmindedly in reply. He was listening, but his thoughts were elsewhere. Ginger and Mrs. Howell were caught up in a conversation regarding the length of a hemlines deemed proper for a formal occasion, yet neither invested much energy in defending their differing opinions, as they both knew that it really didn't matter anymore. Mr. Howell was talking to the Professor about the possibility of an upgrade to his disintegrating bamboo polo pony. As he droned on about creating one that would actually move, the Professor indulged him but, as he sat with an elbow on the table, and his head resting on his hand, he was really only hearing words at that point, and didn't have the heart to begin to contemplate what feat of engineering might be attempted to make such a dream a reality.
Mary Ann had just placed a dish of cut up pineapple on the table and had sat down between the Professor and Gilligan when the radio broadcaster began speaking about a day in history.
"Quiet everybody!" directed the Skipper. But, aside from Gilligan, who snapped out of his silent revelry and turned his head toward his captain, no one paid heed, and conversations continued on.
"I said QUIET!" the captain bellowed in his loudest and most commanding voice. That got everyone's attention at last.
"Sorry folks, but the news is on," pointed out the Skipper in a calmer tone.
The Skipper dialed up the volume knob, and all quieted down just in time to hear the tail end of the This Day in History portion of the day's broadcast. Together they all listened as the radio announcer continued:
"Today also marks the anniversary of the fateful trip and subsequent loss of the tiny ship, the S.S. Minnow. It was operated by the well-liked and notably brave and sure captain, former Navy man, Jonas Grumby, and his one man crew. The ship set sail from a tropic port in the Hawaiian Islands, and embarked on what was to be a three hour tour. Many ships have vanished over the years due to the rough weather that appears suddenly across the waters of the Pacific. However, the search for this particular vessel continued notably longer than normal due to the extensive media coverage revolving around its disappearance. The five person passenger list included the famed multi-millionaire Thurston Howell, III and his socialite wife, Eunice "Lovey" Howell, as well as the beautiful, former Hollywood starlet, Miss Ginger Grant. In other news…"
The Skipper reached over and clicked off the radio... All the castaways sat in silence. The air felt as heavy as their hearts. No one felt much like eating after that. Even Gilligan, normally a veritable bottomless pit at mealtimes, pushed his plate away in sadness.
"I can't believe it's been another year…" bewailed the Skipper, rolling his eyes skyward.
"Another year gone on this blasted island! And the very idea! Thurston Howell, III, a captain of industry, the Wolf of Wall Street, reduced to a mere matter of trivia! Shocking!" thundered Mr. Howell.
"There, there Thurston," Mrs. Howell said, patting her husband consolingly on the cheek with one gloved hand while pulling out one of her finely embroidered handkerchiefs from her handbag with the other. She dabbed her eyes delicately.
Tears ran down Ginger's face as well, as she voiced her lament over the death of a career that came far too soon. "I can't believe I'm just a has-been now, 'the former Hollywood starlet'." With her head in her hands, she burst into a full sob, thinking to herself that she would give anything to see those bright, sparkling lights of Hollywood again.
"They didn't even mention me," Mary Ann whimpered weakly as she started to cry.
Or me, the Professor thought to himself as he just sat silently with downcast eyes. He managed to reach over and rest his hand on Mary Ann's back in an attempt to console her as she wept into her napkin, but he was so caught up in his own thoughts that he had no words of comfort to offer.
The Skipper looked around the table at the sullen men and the crying ladies, feeling completely responsible, yet at a total loss. He was out of ideas, and he too had lost heart. "I'm so sorry folks. I just don't know what to say…"
Gilligan felt crushed as he watched his usually valiant captain slide into such a pit of defeat. Mary Ann's cries were growing louder beside him, Ginger was collapsed in sadness across from him, and Mrs. Howell's delicate dabbing of her handkerchief was not keeping up with the flow of her tears. He felt his heart would break. There had to be something that could be done to raise their spirits. But what?
Think Gilligan, think! I've got to think! He stared down at the table, his mind spinning wildly and furiously. Finally, it came to him.
"I know, I know!" Gilligan cried out as he rose to his feet, wringing his hands with excitement.
"You know what, Gilligan?" asked the Skipper weakly.
"I know something that we can do that will cheer us all up!" he said with a smile, thus catching everyone's attention. "Let's have an anniversary party!"
"Gilligan! That has to be one of your dumbest ideas yet. Can't you see how upset everyone is? No one wants to have a party to celebrate being stuck here on this island for another year," explained an irritated Skipper.
"No, Skipper you don't understand. I don't mean an anniversary party for us being marooned. How about we change this day into a different anniversary?"
"Gilligan, my boy, what ahhhre you talking about?" questioned Mr. Howell.
Everyone else was also staring at him quizzically.
"How about we each pick something important that happened in our lives, something really happy… maybe something that nobody else even knows about, and we can pretend that this day is the that it happened. We can have a big party tonight, and then we can all tell each other what anniversary we are celebrating. C'mon, everybody. Whadda ya say?" he pleaded hopefully. "It will get our minds off the shipwreck, and it will be fun!" explained Gilligan, urging the group on with his most enthusiastic tone.
Pausing thoughtfully for a moment, the Skipper soon replied, "You know, Gilligan, that's not such a bad idea." Then, turning to address the seated group he asked, "What do you think, folks? Shall we give it try?"
"Well, it would certainly provide a welcome distraction from the more somber reflections of the day," agreed the Professor.
Mary Ann had been looking up at Gilligan, proud of him as usual, and her cheery smile was returning to her face. "That sounds like a wonderful idea Gilligan, although I really don't have anything big to celebrate," she said slightly hesitantly.
"That's okay, Mary Ann. We are all going to pick something small and personal. It doesn't have to be big," was Gilligan's encouraging reply, directed to Mary Ann, but repeated for the benefit of everyone at the table.
"All right then. I'm in." Mary Ann replied with a smile, standing up with determination. "And I'd be more than happy to make some special dishes and pies for the occasion!" she added with a chipper voice.
"I'm in too," Ginger declared, having dried her eyes and regained her normal countenance. "Oooooo! This is so exciting!" she exclaimed with a small squeal of delight. "It's just like the premier of a new movie! I'd be glad to give you a hand, Mary Ann," she offered, then continued, "and I've got just the perfect dress in mind to wear." Ginger clasped her near perfectly manicured hands together in excitement as she began to mentally travel through the high points of her career, wondering what "anniversary" she might pick.
"Girls, I can certainly aid with the food preparations. I'll head into the jungle and gather some herbs to add to our salad," announced the Professor with a beaming smile, inwardly surprised at how quickly his own enthusiasm was building. He even came up with an idea for a small "invention" of sorts that he could fabricate by the end of the day that he thought would add to the festivities.
Mrs. Howell had definitely brightened up upon hearing the first mate's suggestion. "I think it's a maaaaarvelous idea, Gilligan!" she declared. "Oh, I just adooooore planning parties! Come Thurston, I have a million things to do!" she said, standing, and giving her husband a little tug on the arm.
"Yes, Lovey dear. Let's head back to our hut." Then of course adding in one of his usually witty quips, "I'll check to see what's left in my private stock to help us all get in the spirit of the occasion, if you know what I mean," he said, laughingly.
"Well, all right then!" declared the Skipper, smiling heartily as he saw the sadness of his passengers turn into excitement as they planned on ways to implement his first mate's idea. "Gilligan and I will be sure we have plenty of fresh fish and lobster for the celebration. Come on, Little Buddy, we've got a lot of work to do!"
Off they all scattered, each to their own tasks and own thoughts, ready to spend the day with their chores and their memories.