I Remember When…..

I remember when I voted the first time.  It was for John F. Kennedy when he was elected in 1960.  I was less than 2 years out of high school.  I was employed at Dexter Shoe Shop in Dexter Maine working on an industrial machine sewing the backs Bowling Shoes and Ice Skates.  What a fun job. This was the good ole’ days when men were king of the world, and could get away with anything.

My immediate supervisor, let’s call him “Mr. Wonderful” wanted to date me. He would ask me which rink I was going to go roller skating every week.  I would tell him one and go to the other one.

Being a good catholic boy he was thrilled that the Pope would now be running the country because Mr. Kennedy was catholic, too!  I voted for John Kennedy in spite of the fact that he was Catholic.  Everything went well, he was elected and was an okay president.  Besides Jackie was a woman we all aspired to be!

There have been other presidents or their wives that did not inspire me at all.  What I liked about Kennedy was his clever sayings: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

I had been trying to get a raise because I was fast with my hands and could do a case in record time.  The management decided they would “time” me to, in their words see speed of  my “piece work” to determine how many pennies per piece  I would get.  Well, Mr. Wonderful came up behind me and with a stop watch in his pocket proceeded to time me.  Of course, I could tell that he was doing it so I did a lot of movements with my hand and didn’t accomplish any great amount of pieces zigzagged.  He would sake his head and walk away.  As soon as he was gone I wizzed through the rest of the day.

Mr. Wonderful was starting to annoy us girls by touching us, I told him in very plain English never to touch me.  I was on my way out of the plant because I was talking “Union”.  The treatment that the women put up with was wrong on so many levels.

One day Mr. Wonderful came up to the woman beside me and put his arms around her and grabbed her breasts.   He came over to me with the same intention, I told him again do not touch me.  Guess he didn’t take me seriously because I attempted to give him a vasectomy without the benefit of any anesthetic with my shop scissors.  I would have at least scarred him if he hadn’t been fast enough with his hand.  I still have those scissors.

The foreman walked me  to the door and said, “Your services will not longer be needed.”

I Remember When…

I remember my first airplane ride.  It was exciting, and mind boggling.  Here I was a mere 19 year old, living the carefree life of a single woman on her own, living with two other single women.

The year was 1959.  I was working on my first job in Hartford, Conn. as a keypunch operator for the huge hourly wage of $1.15 an hour.  Whoo Hoo!  I had no allusions that the guys across the file cabinets that separated our work place made that amount.  Remember when women made 50% of what men made, don’t believe it, it was a lot less.

My two room mates were waiting for Prince Charming to ride up on his White Charger and pick them up in his muscular arms and carry them off to a life of luxury in his castle. Right!

I had no such allusions.  Where I came from there were horses, but they pulled plows.

Room mate #1. Was going to flight school to become a flight attendant.  She was a tall willowy, well groomed; the neatest person I had ever met.  We lived in a three bedroom railroad apartment.  She always looked great and could straighten up the apartment in mo time and it looked as good as she did.   I borrowed one of her blouses once and it had a ring around the collar that made me sick.  Evidently she wore everything, including her undies until she had everything dirty enough to package it up to send to her Mother in Maine, who washed, ironed and starched everything except the undies and shipped it back to her.  The kicker was that she cold go to school (paid for by her parents) but couldn’t fly until she was 21.

I was crazy to wash everything by hand, hang it out on the clothesline and iron all day Saturday or Sunday to be ready for work Monday. My Mother would never do that for me.

Lesson learned!  Never borrow!

Room mate #2.  We married her off as soon as we could.  She actually washed her clothes, but she wore her rubber girdle for weeks before washing it.  Which I didn’t care about, but she hung in in the bathroom to dry.  You get the picture!   We made sure to leave her alone with her boyfriend, made intimate dinners for them with candles.  She got pregnant.  We were bad.

We started working at Hartford Fire Insurance Company in the Spring.  It was our first job and when it came to Christmas, we realized we weren’t going to get to go home. We hadn’t accrued any vacation time.   So we called in sick, and booked a flight from Hartford  to home, her in Vermont and me in Maine.   It was what is now called a “Red Eye”.

Had a great time!  BTW our flight cost $17.00 and it included dinner.  BTW I know what the did with the coach class seats.  They are now First Class seats.  The flight attendant could easily push her drink cart up and down  the isle.  The isles between the rows of seats were wide; we could walk by  the the cart to the bathroom.

When we got back to work, we discovered that our apartment was called and when we didn’t answer we were in deep doo doo.

Someone should have told us that we couldn’t go home for Christmas and also didn’t get the summer off.

I Remember When…

Being a young woman in the 50’s wasn’t an “equal” time.  Damn, I was devastated when I learned that I couldn’t pitch for the New York Yankees. I survived that disappointment and many more.   I tilted at some windmills and others I just accepted or worked around.

Life on the farm was hard in many ways, but in others it was fun.  I never understood that “woman’s work” was inside when I had to work outside too!

Yes, living in the country meant that you got up earlier to walk the proverbial mile to the school bus and then 8 long noisy bumpy miles to school.   Usually we arrived before the school was unlocked, which meant we stood around stomping our feet to stay warm.  It wasn’t so bad for the boys as they wore dungarees.  Since we were “ladies” we were not  allowed to wear dungarees.  After much protests we finally were allowed to wear pants to school, but had to take them off during classes.

All summer we worked in the garden, helped haying, and fed animals .  We had chickens and even though it was fun gathering eggs, the hens often took offense at us stealing their eggs and pecked us.

Our well was only about 30 0r 40 feet deep and was located about that far from the house. Every summer it ran dry.  We always had a bucket of water by the pump to prime it or you wouldn’t get water.  We kept a couple of metal milk cans to haul water for us and our animals, when the well went dry, we loaded the milk can in the back of the car off we went  to our back-up water source.  It was an artesian well not far from the house.  It was really just a hollowed out place in rock only about 3 or 4 feet deep.  It never went dry and the water was clean even though it had no cover over it.  We caught a small fish and every year dropped it in the well, as long as the fish was swimming we drank the water.  Doesn’t sound sanitary, but I am still alive.

This is a picture of me with two of those cans:

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That’s Mon and Dad priming the pump.  BTW the milk cans were empty.  I was strong, but not that strong.

There used to be a row of Maple trees across the road that every year we tapped for the syrup and cooked it to make Maple Syrup.  I can almost taste those big thick pancakes with fresh home churned butter and smothered in real Maple Syrup.  We did a lot of fishing on Moor pond in the background.  Bass and Pickerel in the summer and winter.

One summer I swam across the lake and back. My brothers were bragging about them swimming across it and I took the challenge and started my swim.  Mom was mad (and probably worried about me drowning) that I was swimming alone and she sent the boys after me with the boat and told them to make me swim back.  That was the one and only time I swam it.

I learned many things the hard way.

I Remember When …..

Life was in the slow lane, but was good.

I remember the time I went to “the ole swimming hole” on my bike (peddle power only) and decided  to give my girl friend a ride home.  Remember we only wore shoes during school, so I was barefoot.  She was on the seat and I stood up peddling.

We came across a rise in the road and started down, my foot slipped off the peddle, and I fell  on the road, she fell on top of the bicycle on top of me.

Up over the rise came a BIG car (they were big then) and slammed on his brakes so not to hit us.

The nice man jumped out of his car to make sure we weren’t hurt.  He got my friend and the bike off me to discover that my ankle was bleeding profusely, the sprocket had  cut my ankle.

I was told by my Mother “Do not take a ride with strangers” and no matter what he said I said, “NO.”

He begged and pleaded to het me to let him help me.  But if you knew my Mother, you knew her word was LAW!  There was no way I was getting in that car.

Finally, over all my objections and after a lot scratching and hitting , he got me into his car.  My friend told him where I lived and he took me home.

I was taken to “Ole Doctor Taylor’s office” and he did the stitches in his office.  No emergency,  or hospital!

I was supposed to be on crutches all summer long , we were so poor, my Dad make me a pair.  I was so ashamed of them that I would conveniently “forget” them and hobble around.

I was also told not to go swimming in Lake Wassookeg Lake so not to get infection if the wound, however I “fell in” on nearly every occasionally got near the water.

I remember hobbling like crazy trying to stay out of Doc Taylor’s eyesight on Fourth of July.  I neglected to bring my handy dandy crutches, and Doc Taylor knew ALL of his patients.

Those were the good old days.  It is so sad that we will never see them again.  Now it is a Corporate Medical Business!

 

I Remember When…

I remember when buying a new car was not a knockdown drag out fight to the death of your entire savings.   You took pride in your “vehicle of transportation” and could have it paid off and enjoy it for years before it needed tons of work.

We never had a “new” car when I was a kid.  My Dad maintained it forever, until our poor car had congestive heart failure and died and not matter how hard my Dad tried he couldn’t save it.

Usually there was only one or two dealerships in a town and 2 or 3 garages.  You could change your own oil if you were handy.   It didn’t cost an arm and a leg to have it done.

BTW, none of the cars came with seat belts.  There were no child seats.  We drove just as fast as we do now, and our biggest distraction were lighting cigarettes, and hollering at kids.  Nobody ate food in the car unless it was a sandwich brought from home.

Next time I’ll tell you about my first brand new car and about my first used car.

I Remember When…..

Now try not to faint, but I remember the Fourth of July celebrations that were small, but fun.  Lots of food vendors and we used to buy Lobster “all you could eat” for $1.00 a plate.  That’s right one dollar.

Of course the wages were considerable smaller.  Although not that smaller.

My Step-Dad worked on the Railroad making peanuts for hard labor.

My husband’s family used to go down to the coast and purchase a washtub of Lobster and bring them home for a big cook out.  We always dipped them in hot melted butter with a touch of lemon juice.  Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Now go eat.

I Remember When….

Going shopping was only to get flour, sugar, salt, beans, salt pork and sometimes a “store bought treat”.  The operative word is sometimes.

We lived on a farm and grew everything.  We had a garden that was at least one acre and my Mother canned everything!  We always had chickens….so we had fresh eggs.  We raised at least one steer….so we had meat, btw that was canned too.  We had a cow….so we had milk, butter, and cottage cheese.

Until I was an adult, I never went to a restaurant for dinner, never had spaghetti, Pizza was unknown, and an Ice Cream Sundae was a dream.

Don’t feel sorry for me, everyone was paddling in that same canoe.  I wonder sometimes if America evolved too far from that simple life.