By Levi Clancy for לוי on
pages 000 - 001
|PUNCHING THE CLOCK|
Punching the Clock
ILLUSTRATED BY DORIS JEAN
pages 009 - p 010
|Punching the Clock|
§1 - Entering Aircraft
“Aircraft workers wanted. You, too, can be an aircraft worker. Join the thousands who are helping win the war. No age limit,” read Tillie from the Herald Express.
“Here‘s jobs for all of us. You, Marcie, and Leona, having been teachers, will no doubt get office jobs.”
Leona grinned, “Oh, Marcie no doubt could get an office job. She would be as easy on the boss's lap as on his eyes.”
“Thanks so much, but you know I always am the good first impression and you the lasting one.”
“Dinner's ready,” called Jessie from the kitchen. “Get your plates and help yourselves, and remember, if you have any cracks to make, either keep them to yourself or make out the menus for the week.”
“Mom, you know you're a swell cook. Twenty years in a restaurant helps a little. No doubt you'll get a good canteen job.”
Tillie helped herself generously from the kettle, and with her mouth full said, “I'm just a plain housewife with a husband in the Air Corps. What do you think I'll get?”
“Oh, there must be dozens of things you can do,” said Leona comfortingly. “Let's leave these dishes to keep the breakfast dishes company, and rush down to X----- and apply. Get the bus schedule, Tillie.”
“Well, where is it?”
“I'm sure I don't know. Marcie cleaned house this morning, and after that, you know, we can never find anything until things get normal again.”
“Oh, well, fiddlesticks!” said Tillie, “the bus will come sometime, so let's just get ready.”
She unzipped her rose taffeta house coat and hung it carefully on a hanger, and pushed manfully on the sliding closet doors that always stuck.
Tillie Foster's small, round face showed the disgust she felt as one of the doors left its sliding track for the ninety-seventh time. Tillie didn't look all of her thirty-four years. Her softly rounded flesh was still pink and pretty. Her hair was thick and black, and closely cut to a well shaped head. She buttoned her tailored white silk blouse, and as she smoothed the skirt of her blue suit over her hips, she made a neat, trim figure. The very picture of a competent business woman.
“We are always ready first,” said Marcie's plump, little brown haired, blue eyed mother. “I suppose a woman past forty should do her hair up, but I guess it's vanity that makes me want to show that it curls naturally. It's my best feature, although my complexion is good for my age.”
Big, grey eyes studied her mother, as Marcie patted the naturally red hair, which had only a trace of the curliness her mother flaunted in the face of those who need permanents. She skillfully applied make-up to her cheeks and lips, and said, “Mom, you'd look so much younger and prettier, if you would use rouge.”
“You know your mother never uses the ‘red stuff,’ laughed Leona, showing a beautiful set of white teeth.
“You two girls hurry and forget my coloring, I know I'm pale and tacky-looking, but I never keep you waiting for me.”
“Oh Mom, you know you're not tacky-looking. You'd be distinguished and pretty if you would only spend a little time on yourself. Ever since Father died last fall you seem to have lost interest in everything. If you don't stop your crying fits soon you will have to wear glasses. Now there's only you and I left in our family, and I'd die if anything happened to you.”
“I know, Honey, I should be more thankful for those I still have, you and my almost-a-daughter, Leona. These last three years that she has lived with us, make me feel that her name should be Northup, too. And now we also have Tillie. I'm so glad you came to live with us when your husband left for the air base at Miami.”
Leona's hazel eyes made a last minute inspection of her pretty young face and blonde hair in the mirror. She stretched her five-feet-five inches of slim figure as she reached to the top shelf in the closet for her blue purse.
She said, “Say, Tillie, I'll bet you'll never forget how we met you, Marcie and I, will you? I can see you as your packages flew in every direction. You should know better than to get in the path of two girls on their way to the mail box. Try a train next time; it's easier. But we did pick you up and dust you off a little. I remember I got a letter from Eddie that day.”
“Oh, for the wonders of love!” sarcastically commented Marcie. “You're just fascinated by his title -- Captain Edward Hartman of the Ferry Command, at your service. Ahem!”
“Marcie, don't tease Leona, and hurry up both of you. I am sure I see the bus a couple of blocks up the road.”
So in a whirlwind finish three minutes later they stood neck and neck at the bus stop.
“Fifty million other people must be having the same idea as we, look at that bus load,” panted Tillie.
The orange and silver bus emptied most of its load at the Government Employment Building. The crowd pushed Marcie, Leona, Tillie and Jessie up the steps and into the big bank-like building with its high ceiling and marble floor.
“Well, let's take ourselves a bunch of these questionnaires and separate to get busy, this looks like an all day job,” suggested Leona.
People crowded the tables, all writing furiously and anxiously on paper after paper.
Sometime later Leona and Jessie came over to the table where the other two were still frowning over their answers, and said, “Good-by you two, guess we're out of luck here. We have to go out to Plant I Employment Agency; they said maybe out there they would have something for us. See you later. If you get home first warm up the stew.”
Tillie and Marcie were the first ones to arrive at the little auto court home. Tillie sank tiredly into the only comfortable chair and with a scornful look around the tiny apartment, said, “I'm surely tired of these Motel Apartments. I feel just like there isn't enough room to draw a deep breath in them. Marcie, do you think we shall ever find a house?”
“I think so, honey, some day we will go out and do nothing but hunt for a house. Just now, I'm even too tired to mind the hills in this ‘day coach’, as our landlady so quaintly calls our day-bed.”
“Say, Tillie, tell me what happened to you when you were interviewed by that ‘tall, dark and handsome’. Did he give you a break?”
“No, but I gave him the works when he told me how incapable I was after fifteen years of managing a house, balancing a meager budget, and holding a husband.”
“Applause for you, Tillie! Now, tell me exactly what happened, and how you told him off.”
“Well, when I went through that little gate and took a chair, I found a most convinced man, that women have no place in Industry. (‘Tall, dark and handsome’ to you.) His eyes sped over my questionnaire in a most competent manner, ‘Hmm, I see you haven't worked for a good many years. Your last job was a beauty operator in Iowa; that means you are not used to working routine, and it might be difficult getting into the swing of things!”
“By that time I was so mad I didn't even care if I got a job or not, so I said, ‘the Hell I don‘t know how to work. If you had followed my schedule the last fifteen years you‘d think you had been on a roller coaster, as for handling a job, I guess any woman who can mend her own light fixtures, ironing cords, washing machine, fix her own plumbing, keep a neat house, cook, figure budgets and sew, can sort a few nuts and bolts and get them in the right boxes.’”
“Then he grinned as he said, ‘Not bad, not bad, Mrs Foster, I think you will do. I surely wish all the applicants had more of your spirit.’ Then he gave me a job, on something called a Hydro Press machine. What did you get?”
“Well, for one thing, I have to make a special trip to G-------- tomorrow to have an X-Ray taken of my chest. I guess I should have waited to apply until my cold was all gone. Anyway they made me a timekeeper. After my interviewer looked my application over, he looked me over too. I held the worn spots on the elbows of my old fur coat close to my sides so they wouldn't show, and tried to look as appealing and efficient as I could.”
“Oh for the love of mud, Tillie, I hear Mom and Leona coming, and we haven't warmed the stew. I hope to goodness they don't step in that wash water, the people in court three must have washed today. Throw wide the door in welcome and let's hope they, too, have jobs.”
Leona spoke as she came through the door, “I'm as tired as a contenstant in a walkathon, and hungry as the last person in line before a cafe.”
“This has been the longest day of my life, and that is fitting, too, for I have had to live it all over for the benefit of twenty-seven people, not including the doctor and oculist.” Jessie spoke tiredly.
“Come on, Mom and Leona, let's eat, and you two give us a detail account of your adventure in aircraft.”
“O.K., remember you asked for it, and so, here it is. Mom and I walked the chalk line into a small room that was filled with eager applicants. Everyone was sitting, who could find a seat, the rest of us stood around, and ran for the chairs when someone called to be interviewed. So we sat and sat for what seemed to be, and was, hours. Mom was called up once but it was a false alarm, or I should say false hope, as she only had to furnish a few more details. Then the loud speaker spoke again, and requested all of us to leave the room so it could be swept. Of course, after the rushing business conducted there, it did need a slight brushing up.”
“Everyone was friendly and interested, one of the ladies heard me call Jessie ‘Mom’, and she asked me what work my mother expected to do, where we come from, in fact, she was nearly as inquisitive as the questionnaire. I didn't mind, however, so I gave her our history; how I always called Jessie, Mom, and how we three, Marcie, Jessie, and I came out here from Minnesota together, and how we were now four, as another dear friend, that's you, Tillie, was the other side of our four square. I hardly had all these outlined before the speaker called, “Leona Lynn’.”
“The receptionist told me I was to have my medical first, so I sat in a pew-like seat with a long line of fellow hopers. When they got around to me I found it was an eye test first. The test was a cinch. I looked through a telescope sort of thing at a background that had squares with and without dots in them. The nurse was lovely, she always gave you a second choice. Mom said when her turn came that she looked out the door as if she were counting the eyes yet to be examined. Then I went in to see the doctor and his two aides. There were about eight women sitting on folding chairs minus their blouses. I joined them. We no sooner got seated in line than a nurse came along with a thermometer for each of us. She went down the line jabbing a thermometer into each mouth like pins in a pin cushion -- Pop! Pop! Pop! After a session with the measurer the nurse took them all back. Then we were handed a paper cup and guided, one at a time, to the rest room and told to bring back a specimen. One woman came back with her cup brimming over. The nurse looked at the cup with a look of, how shall I cope with this situation, and said, ‘I don't want to wash my hands in it, I only want a little bit in the bottom.’ I thought of how I had run the water ten minutes before I got an urge.
“Then we were told to remove all our clothes except our slips to prepare for other examinations. The girl in slacks next to me was so embarrassed because she had no slip to keep on, but as they gave you a sheet to cover with, no doubt her modesty is still as strong as before. After removing our paper shoes we lay down on a shelf against the wall of a cubby hole room. After I had Oh'd and Ah'd according to the doctor's instructions, while he thumped my ribs like one does in testing a watermelon, I was informed I was passable. So then I passed down the line of twenty-seven windows. At the first, I knew my job was to be a General Installer. At each of the other windows, I either promised to buy bonds, to join the Buck-of-the-Month Club, take out Insurance, or showed my Social Security card and my Birth Certificate, and received a set of company books on safety rules and regulations. Then I climbed the stairs to the Identification Bureau.”
“So you are buying bonds, and joined the Book-of-the-Month-Club, too, Leona,” said Jessie.
“Not Book-of-the-Month-Club, Mom,” explained Leona, “Buck-of-the-Month-Club. That means you give a dollar a month to help charity, U.S.O., Community Chests, etc.”
“Oh, for goodness sake,” exclaimed Jessie, “Is that what that woman said? I thought she was talking about a book a month and I thought that was so nice, I joined before she hardly mentioned the name. But this way it's even better. I probably won't have any time to read anyway, now that I am working. By the time I got to the Identification Bureau, I was so tense that the finger print man had to say ‘relax’ over and over again. Then after I had partly washed, and partly wiped the black stuff from my hands, they took my picture. I'll bet that will be a scream and the guards will have a laugh every day, that is, if they are more observing than the guards who passed the man who showed Hitler's picture instead of his own. Then I got tool checks and a badge, and say, Leona, were the people who went in with you proud of their badges? The crowd I was with surely wore theirs like they were medals for bravery. After we all signed our passes, we were definitely in, we belonged. Now tomorrow, I can walk up to the gates, show my badge and pass, go inside, punch a time clock and start a nice filing job. The guide who conducted us around on a tour of the plant, explained where each of us would belong, and showed us our departments. He stopped at a tiny room that he called office number ten, and said, ‘This is where you will work, number 736.’ Guess I'm the lucky one to get such a nice easy job. Then he stopped before a rack filled with cards. They looked like penny post cards only longer. A name and other information was printed at the top, and the card was punched full of holes, something like a player piano roll, only the holes are all the same size. Then he said, ‘this is your time clock’, but I guess the clock was inside the square black box. When you push your card through the top slot it records the time on your card under ‘In’ or ‘Out’.”
“So you got a man for your guide, Mom,” remarked Leona, “well I had a girl, and they said she had been on the stage at one time. Boy, she strutted ahead of us like a damn majorette, proud as a peacock, and with all or most of its colors. All she lacked was a baton to swing, as she pranced along showing us all the benches of tired, amused looking workers.”
“Now that I think of it, Mom, how did you manage to put the names of eleven children in your mother's family on the four lines of the questionnaire?”
Jessie laughed, “I just put the names of the first four down. I thought if that was the most children one family should have, I wasn't going to tell them my folks didn't have children according to regulations. How did you fare writing the names of the fifteen children in your family on your four lines?”
“Oh, I filled the four lines; then I turned the sheet over and wrote the names of the other ten on the back. I didn't count myself. I guess Marcie didn't have a bit of trouble writing herself down as one full complete family for you, eh Mom?”
“Well, clock punchers,” yawned Tillie, “It's after twelve and those who work must first have sleep. It's our turn on the ‘day coach’ Jessie. Sweet dreams you lucky people who will enjoy the comforts of our inner spring.”
§2 - Blisters, Dirt and Noise
Forty-five minutes before change of shift the four new beginners each grabbed a paper sack containing a sandwich and some fruit from the kitchen table, for Tillie had seen the bus rounding the corner. They were breathless as they climbed board, and the bus sped on with its load of aircraft workers.
"Just look at that ant hill of industry," said Leona, as she and Jessie left the bus bearing the other two on to their work at a sister plant, a couple of miles from Aircraft Plant I.
"It surely does look like an ant hill just now, with all those people rushing out and all those in the new shift moving up to the gates. We have plenty of time; let‘s just stand here and look at everything. You know we can never live the first day in aircraft again."
"It‘s a huge building and I think the camouflage is wonderful. See the brown, green, and white shaded spaces; and all these color divisions, make the factory buildings look like a number of small buildings set on green and brown earth.“
“Oh, Mom, look at all the little houses they have built on top of the plant. I wish we could have one, that would solve our housing problem, and living so near the plant we need never be late.“
“Well, maybe, but i am afraid even if we lived here we would be in a terrific rush in the last ten minutes. We are that kind of people, I guess. Anyway, I heard those houses were made of canvas and someone said some soldiers were stationed up there.“
“‘Photography prohibited‘,“ read Leona, looking at the high woven wire fence surrounding the plant, “I‘ll bet that fence keeps the nosey people outside.“
“Yes, Honey, and you too, if you forget your badge and pass. Just see that notice, it‘s a funny one. It says the Government is not responsible for any damage caused by drippings, that means if the glue and chicken feathers part company and drip through the wire netting of the overhead camouflage on your new slack-suit, you will have to do something about it, not Uncle Sam.“
“Mom, there is the little house where we can buy bus tickets, but I guess it‘s mostly for people who live farther away than we. Doesn't all this remind you of a big fair? The hundreds of cars parked and moving, the voices booming out of the loud speaker. They call it the P.A., Public Address, I heard yesterday.“
“It most certainly does have the requisites of a fair. Let‘s stop here, and see what this girl has on her table to sell. Aren‘t these plastic heart necklaces beautiful?“
“Yes, Mom, and see they have little gold airplanes on them. I‘d like to have either a red or a white one, or one of those bombers to wear on my coat. Do you think Sis back home would like a couple of airplanes to wear in her ears?“
“I don‘t see why she wouldn‘t, dear, but now we must move along. Here‘s a man selling Victory lunches and candy, and two negro women selling luscious chicken and dessert pies. Why, Leona, there‘s even a man selling balloons. See, there‘s a man buying a Mickey Mouse for his little boy or girl at home.“
“Oh Mom, he isn‘t buying it for his little boy or girl at home. He is buying it for the little boy inside himself. See, there he goes up to the gate, gay balloon and all.“
“Look, Leona, the other shift is off duty and look out, too, or some of these bus catchers will knock us flat. Is that music I hear? Oh.[,] it‘s the Good Humor Man.“
The blue and white collar of the Good Humor man was at the corner, a modern Pied Piper as his music drew a crowd of grown up boys and girls whose dusty throats needed the gentle, creamy coolness of his ice cream bars.
A horn sang sweetly the opening bars of “Sweet Adeline,“ and immediately there began an impatient fanfare of car horns as one stalled car held industry‘s procession. They passed the bomb shelters, a row of cell like buildings made of iron and cement with about a six inch square air hole near the top. Each shelter is divided into two parts by a partition. Here and there is a toilet in between the narrow structures.
“I hope we need never use hese [sic] bomb shelters in earnest, don‘t you, Leona?“ asked Jessie.
“Yes, I certainly do hope that,“ Leona replied; I can imagine how cramped and miserable we would be crowded into one of those shoe boxes all night. Anyway, I feel sure no Jap or German will ever be able to come that close to us. Thank God for our Coast Guard, our Army, Navy and Air Corps protection. I intend to work hard here to show I‘m back of them, or if necessary even at their side fighting all the way.“
“You spoke for all American women that time, Honey. That‘s how we all feel. Should we meet at lunch time and eat together at either the Canteens inside the gate or those eating places across the street from the plant?“ asked Jessie. “Yesterday a lady told me that one of those places is a sort of Cafeteria and Automat combined. Along the inside walls are rows of small openings with glass hinged doors. The food is placed inside from the kitchen and the customer on the outside removes his selection. There are hot compartments for hot foods and cold ones for the cold foods. Let‘s try it some day, shall we? It‘s called, The Speede-Feed.“
“Oh, Mom, of course we want to et together, but I‘m not sure where tonight. For a while let‘s try the inside canteens and then those outside places. I‘ll meet you when the lunch whistle blows at gate three canteen. Bye, until then.“
Three minutes after the going home whistle had called the new shift to work, Leona and Jessie met at gate eight, and as they ran to catch the bus at the corner, Jessie was hoping that the other members of the family would be on the bus too.
The four fagged girls (you are always girls at the plant whether you are eighteen or sixty) draped themselves on the furniture fifteen minutes later.
“Mother dear, how‘s your job,“ asked Marcie; “Did you manage to keep the files all straight at the office today?“
“Office!“ exploded Jessie, “you should have seen the filing I did. They put me at a stack of steel things they called parts. Then a man they called a group leader sent me after a Bastard File. You girls know how I feel about swearing, so I told them at the tool crib I wanted an illegitimate file. Did they laugh? They certainly did, and I was mad, but I got the old raspy thing and went back. All day long I filed and filed, and every once in a while the group leader would come up and tell me to get a different sort of file. I never knew there were so many kinds of files, a rat tail, a swiss rat tail, a half round, a smooth, and each of these had different lengths, four, six, eight, ten, twelve inches, and a Vixen, no doubt a relation to the first file that I used. I also made the acquaintance of a sharp little gadget called a hook scraper, and I used these things all day standing in front of a vice.“
“Oh, I got oceans of help, everyone who had been there over three days came over to show me their system of filing. However, the right way according to the experts, seemed to be, drag the file over the surface to be smoothed with gusto, but never drag it back again, it ‘doesn‘t cut‘ on the return trip. Yes, I have a very lovely job, I‘m a filer. How‘s timekeeping, Marcie?“
“I guess I had the idea I was a very big cog in the wheels of Industry, when I put on my black silk suit, and went to begin work today. With that negative X-Ray I knew I could show I was as healthy as I felt. They took me upstairs to the large timekeeping office, and I was ignorant enough to imagine that I was going to work there. I sat there and wondered which of these desks I would have, and if I could ever learn to do the things I saw being done.“
“Of course, the typewriters were all familiar objects; I could feel at home working on them. I thought there didn‘t seem to be any hurry about my starting, and from then on, my importance there began to shrink. Finally, they remembered me. A man came and said he would show me my section and my desk. As we passed along down the factory, I saw men look at me with a pleased grin, and the whistles were loud and meaningful. I said to my guide, ‘Why do they whistle so? I look like a lady, don‘t you think?[‘]“
“Yes, that is the trouble, too much so. But don‘t worry, it‘s really a compliment.“
“I could hardly believe it when we stopped in the noisiest place I ever heard and he said, ‘This is your section‘. However, I do have a desk, one right out in the middle of things, like an island set in a rushing river and me stranded on it.“
“I was then introduced to my boss, Mr. S----. He has the kindest eyes, and already I feel sure he is one of the few men who never makes passes at girls. He looked at my neat black suit and said, ‘Who said you could wear a dress?[‘}“
“I stammered, 'Why, the man who hired me I think.'"
“Mr. S---- said, ‘I‘m sorry, he was wrong, you‘ll have to wear slacks‘.“
“I said, ‘Shall I go home and change?‘ (still thinking I was somewhat important.)
“‘No,‘ he said, ‘you can just observe today, also, where is your hair net?‘
“‘Hair net, must I wear a hair net too? I have it up now in a tight roll.‘
“‘So I see, but I am afraid you will have to wear one anyway, these rules and regulations are for your protection, and although you will not be working on any machinery, you will be going around it. Here are some numbers of orders you will have to memorize.‘ Handing me a booklet of numbers, he said, ‘I hope your decimal system is good, as in here, we go by that, for instance one o‘clock p. m. is thirteen and so on up to twenty-four. Each hour is marked into ten minute periods.‘
“Mathematics again, just as I had begun to think I had left all of that behind in the school room. That finished my importance. I felt as lost as ‘Alice in Wonderland,‘ and as small as she did after drinking the reducing liquid. I hate numbers and I am sure I‘ll never learn the rows and rows of figures he gave me. Guess I‘ll find another job and quit at the end of the week. How did you fare, Leona, as General Installer?“
Gentle Leona blew up like gas with a match near by. “General Installer! a lovely high sounding name, wouldn‘t you say! A General is the head of an Army, isn‘t he? But my kind of general, means like, generally speaking. Nothing special, just covering a lot of territory. In plain every day down-to-earth and no fancy language, I‘m a riveter. ‘Rosie the Riveter,‘ that‘s me, and Marcie if you think you have noise where you are, come over and see me. I know none of you have ever been where riveting is done and I‘m afraid words fail me to explain the noise. No use telling me that it is noisier than a boiler factory for none of us have ever heard a boiler factory. We have only heard they are the acme of noise. Where I work or will when I know how, you get up to your neighbor‘s ear and scream if you need their attention. Sometimes today I envied those deaf and dumb people who work there because, if you are deaf, noise is no bother, and if you are dumb, you don‘t have to wreck your vocal cords telling your neighbor to pass the wrench, please. You can wave one of your hands around here and there and work with the other, thus satisfying your desire for a chit chat, and the company‘s desire for production.
“I sometimes wondered if it would be easier to have a perfect bedlam of noise for a while, then a period of calm, or as it is now, a steady pounding, jarring, beating and hammering of hundreds of rivet guns. I knew why they called them guns when I heard their gun-like reports. They made us drill holes in metal as close as we could to a mark, then one of us got a rivet gun to shoot rivets into these holes, and the other held a bar against the hole on the other side, the bar was called a bucking-bar and it takes plenty of skill and strength to do either job.“
“Tillie, you are the last to tell all,“ said Jessie, [“]but I‘ll bet you have the best work of all, the rest of us seem to be the proverbial square peg in a round hole. How does your job fit you? What happened?“
“Well, Jessie,“ said Tillie, “you didn‘t ask for this, but take it anyway. I looked up at the flag as I left the heat of the valley and entered into the cool, electrically lighted building and I said, ‘A Salute to you Old Glory‘, with your stars from the skies, and your red, white and blue symbols of courage, purity and freedom. I never knew how much you meant to me until this war began, and my husband enlisted. Here I am, and here I work until peace comes.‘ I‘ll be some of the people thought I was just a screwball standing there at attention.
“I don‘t suppose you saw the Hydro Press at your plant so I‘ll explain it as clearly as I can. It‘s a big thing, made of tons of iron or steel in the shape of a square. Parts are shaped in it. The parts are placed in about the center and pressed something in the manner of a lemon in Grandma‘s old fashioned squeezer.
“I was informed proudly that we had the largest press this side of the Mississippi before D----- plant got a larger one. I tied up the parts in bundles after the parts were formed. A boy from Indiana who says he is a farmer and looks like a poet helped me a lot. He showed me how to tie a Susie Q knot and I tied and tied.“
“Then what?“ asked Leona.
“The machine goes round and round and I tie and ie. Then the machine goes around and I tie and tie again,“ answered Tillie.
“Well, for Pete‘s sake! What a job, don‘t you get dizzy?“ inquired Marcie.
“Maybe I would if I kept my mind on that, but as it is I get so interested in the goings on about me that I forget to get dizzy,“ said Tillie.
§3 - Sunday
The girls didn‘t fit into the factory routine easily. It was all so new to them. At the end of the second week Marcie said to Leona, “Time-keeping is sort of fascinating, but I sitll don‘t like figures. If the head of our department, Mr. S-----, wasn‘t so patient and kind I‘d quit in a minute. I‘ve always liked to meet new people but I surely meet plenty at one time now. My memory fails when it comes to remembering about a hundred faces and just as many names.“
“Well,“ said Leona, “maybe you think my job is a snap. I can tell you . . .“
“Please don‘t,“ broke in Tillie, “I can guess what you‘d say. I‘ve heard gripes by the thousands since I started at X-----. Let‘s decide where we are going today instead. Beautiful! Beautiful Sunday, and all ours.“
“We haven‘t been to Hollywood yet. Let‘s go there,“ suggested Jessie.
“Just think,“ said Leona, “how long we‘ve been here and yet we haven‘t even had our pictures taken with Mickey Rooney or Deanna Durbin, to send home to the town paper like some of our home town friends have done. ‘Miss B------- is the twenty-fifth to the right of Deanna at the table‘.“
“I wonder how they get those pictures,“ said Marcie. “Do they buy the food that we always see them sharing with some movie star?“
“Oh,“ said Tillie, “they no doubt go up and stand around just as some photographer snaps the camera.“
“Well, are we going or not?“ asked Leona. “That‘s the question.“
“Of course we‘re going. Let‘s all wear our suits. Hurry up and get yours on, Leona, and wear that new white blouse with the blue roses in it,“ urged Marcie.
“Those aren‘t roses,“ remarked Leona. “They‘re dahlias.“
“Well, I never saw a blue dahlia either, but they look beautiful,“ answered Marcie.
“Doesn‘t Jessie look nice in her suit?“ asked Tillie, as they stood at the door to go.
“She certainly does, and that jabot on her blouse is ‘most becoming‘ as the saleslady said.[“] “Let‘s go,“ urged Leona.
“I suppose you‘ve been to Hollywood lots of times, Tillie, and sat on the benches and watched the stars go by,“ said Jessie.
“Yes, I have several times, and before we go,“ suggested Tillie, “hadn‘t we better decide what you want to do and see. There‘s Earl Carroll‘s beautiful girls and refreshments, Florentine Gardens, Palladium, Ken Murray‘s Blackouts, Seven Seas, Brown Derby, Jade Room, all night clubs. Any number of Movie Theatres, among them the Egyptian and Grauman‘s Chinese.“
“Oh, let‘s go to the Brown Derby,“ said Leona and Marcie together.
“I‘d like to see Mary Pickford‘s footprints,“ said Jessie dreamily. She wanted to see how they fit her feet.
“We can do both of those things,“ said Tillie, “beside that, take in a movie or dance at the Palladium afterwards. Tommy Dorsey is there.“
“I heard Tommy Dorsey in Minneapolis,“ said Marcie, “but he‘s good enough to hear again and again.“
Four thumbs were in the air as the four girls stood at the mail box near the road. The prosperous looking, middle-aged man stopped his swiftly moving new Cadillac, and burned off a quarter‘s worth of hard to get rubber, as he put on the brakes too fast.
“We‘re off to Hollywood to see the stars,“ they told him as Marcie took the front seat and the others took the back. Either Marcie or Leona always rode in the front seat when they hitch-hiked. They were the youngest and there‘s something about riding beside a pretty young thing that gives a man that even if he is going to L.A., Hollywood is a sweeter, if a longer way home. Why even sometimes the driver of the car would take them around through Griffith Park, or up to the Hollywood Bowl.
“Where do you want me to let you out?“ asked their erstwhile chauffeur.
“If it isn‘t too much bother,“ said Marcie, “you can let us off at the Brown Derby.“
“Which one?“ asked the driver.
“Why is there more than one?“ asked Jessie. “At home in Wadena we‘ve always heard ‘The Brown Derby‘ so we thought there was only one.“
“There must be five or six Brown Derbys,“ he said.
“And each one has Al Smith‘s hat in it?“ asked Jessie.
“You guessed it. They all have,“ he answered.
“Well, the nearest one will be just fine,“ said Tillie.
“That‘s on the next street.“
“Goodbye, and thank you for the ride,“ the four chorused as the man left them at the door of the Brown Derby.
Standing in front of the windows the girls gazed at all the little Wooden Derbys. They saw what was advertised as the Brown Derby Al Smith had thrown into the presidential ring. After a discussion somewhat like a football huddle the girls decided on a cocktail before dinner in that part of the building given over entirely to drinks.
Jessie felt like a minus quantity as they sat waiting for a waiter to take their orders. Softly she said, “I feel I should order something as I am taking the room a customer might use, and I don‘t drink.“
“Well, ask the waiter to give you something made of fruit juices if you feel you are in the way just sitting,“ said Marcie.
The overworked waiter listened half heartedly as Jessie told him, “I never drink, so I‘ll take something mostly fruit and juices.“
The waiter eyed her appraisingly. “Old fashioned,“ he said briefly.
“Well, I guess I am“ agreed Jessie, “most everyone drinks and smokes nowadays and I do neither.“
“Oh Lady, I didn‘t mean your morals. I was only mentioning a drink. I think an old fashioned will suit you to a T.“
“Yes, maybe it will. I‘ll take one.“
The girls and Tillie ordered and after a long time the waiter came back with a tray full of glasses.
Jessie thought her drink looked lovely with a cherry and lime floating around in it. She wondered how cherry and lime juice would taste combined in a golden liquid.
If the cool looking drink had been liquid fire Jessie couldn‘t have opened her mouth for relief any faster. She said as she pushed the glass away, “That‘s all whiskey or I‘ve never smelled my uncle‘s breath. I will always remember to make the first taste a dainty sip hereafter. That finishes my drinking career, from now on, black looks or no black looks, I am going to sit unconcernedly and say, ‘nothing, thanks. I don‘t drink.‘ I learned about liquors from him.“
“Why my feet fit her prints perfectly,“ said Jessie, as she stepped into the impression in the cement under Mary Pickford‘s name.
“Yes, and they are quite a bit too big for me,“ said Marcie, as she stepped into them after Jessie.
“Her celebrated feet aren‘t the smallest here by any means, some of these look like baby feet,“ said Leona.
“Yes, no doubt they borrowed the baby‘s shoes for a few minutes to beat Mary,“ said Tillie.
“Which is it, a movie or a dance?“
Tommy Dorsey was the three to one favorite, so they went to the Palladium. Soldiers and sailors liked the girls‘ looks. That‘s the reason they missed the bus home and had to resort to their thumbs again.
“People will soon be calling us the hitch hiking four. I used to think it took nerve to get two a ride. Now we go in a drove,“ commented Marcie.
A nice young man in a convertible came along. He drove by as if he were sizing up the crowd, then he stopped and opened the door and the girls got in.
“We certainly are lucky,“ said Leona. It‘s so late we were afraid we weren‘t going to get any ride. Or perhaps the kind we wouldn‘t like.“
“I don‘t generally pick up girls,“ said the man, “but when I saw you had an older lady with you I changed my mind.“
“That‘s the time you can thank age and not beauty for a ride,“ said Jessie.
“Where were you girls until so late?“ he asked.
“Oh, we went to the Palladium and forgot the time,“ said Tillie. “I was showing these people Hollywood.“
“I hope you showed them the Florentine Gardens. I work there.“
“No, I didn‘t. We‘ll do that next time,“ promised Tillie, [“]and look you up too.“
“Do just that,“ he said as he let them out at home. “Wasn‘t he the nicest young man?“ asked Marcie, as they unlocked the door.
“Yes,“ answered Jessie, “but he‘s married, he said.“
“Well, who cares? I don‘t want to marry him or any other man,“ snapped Marcie.
“For goodness‘ sake, Marcie, be more quiet. Our neighbors will hear, or by the grumbling I hear, they have already. We‘ll catch everything tomorrow.“
“Well,“ said Leona, “as long as we are going to get called down anyway I may as well have a bath. This is one time they won‘t get all the hot water.“
“I‘m after you, Leona,“ said Marcie, “let‘s look for a house tomorrow.“
§4 - No Hot Water
Tillie and Marcie met at the bus stop homeward bound after work.
“Marcie, I do believe you are thinner than before you went to work. Do you really feel well?“
“Sure, I do, Tillie. I guess I‘m just not the fat kind. No appetite, but I‘ll really eat tonight. I can hardly wait for that steak with mushrooms that Leona promised to make.“
“Let‘s take home a box of vanilla ice cream for that pineapple upside down cake,“ suggested Tillie.
Marcie agreed, “Mom will like that.“
As they rounded the corner the two girls met two young men on the right side of thirty, headed the other way. They greeted the girls with a pleased to meet you expression on their faces.
The girls answered briefly and simply. “Hi, Hal! Hi Art!“
“Where you all goin‘?“ drawled one, affecting a southern manner.
“Home, and that in a hurry. Three inch steaks and mushrooms are calling us there,“ spoke Marcie over her shoulder heading for the market.
“Steak? Did you say steak? Hear her Art. How did you gals ever save up enough red stamps to get T-Bone steaks?“
“Oh, we have friends in our town. They love our fetching ways. We get anything we want,“ bragged Marcie.
“You do? Then how about an invitation? We like steak. Afterwards a dance or show?“
“Nope, not tonight, but sometime bring over your red stamps, and we may feed you.“
“Thanks. I‘ll bet your steak is horse meat anyway.“
“That‘s right, Hal, spoil my appetite,“ complained Marcie. “Good-bye.“
“See you tomorrow,“ called Hal as the girls entered the store.
The ice cream was in a softened condition as Tillie and Marcie placed their offering on the small table in the kitchen.
“It would be hard to place four people in a
smaller kitchen unless they were put in spoon fashion,“ complained Leona, as she tried to crowd between Marcie‘s chair set at the table and the sink against the wall. “A house, a house. My kingdom for a house.“
“Someone told me today of a five room house for rent over in Hollywood,“ said Jessie.
‘[“]Is it furnished?“ asked Tillie.
“Yes, it‘s furnished, but the rent is awfully high. Sixty-five dollars a month. I didn‘t think we could pay so much.“
“I would rather have less to eat and have a house. You would too, wouldn‘t you, Tillie?“
“Why don‘t you speak for yourself, Marcie?“ Tillie laughed. “You should know my weakness.“
“Mine, too,“ and Jessie piled the ice cream high on a huge piece of pineapple upside-down cake. “I love to eat. Remember that teacher of yours, Marcie, who wrote in your autograph book that eating candy was her hobby? Well, I always thought that was a funny hobby, but if her conception of the meaning of the word hobby was correct, and teachers can‘t be wrong, eh, Marcie, then my hobby is eating anything good; not just candy.“
Leona looked dejected, “Well, I guess that house is out. I don‘t think we will ever find one. It seems like everyone in the country is house hunting.“
“A boy at the plant who is house hunting for his family, who will arrive soon, said today that he though[t] the people who had houses out here must have been born with them,“ laughed Jessie, “and I think that‘s about right.“
“Let‘s all ask everyone we see at the plant tomorrow about houses. Maybe we‘ll have to buy one,“ said marcie. “But what will we use for money unless Mom stops saving to pay the mortage on the house at home, Leona, for her hope chest, Tillie saving for bonds, and I for university tuition and all go in together and buy a home on installments.“
“No hot water again,“ complained Leona from the shower. “Honest to goodness, “those people in court one never leave us any hot water. It isn‘t bad enough that we must walk around on tiptoe, talk in whispers, give up our radio programs, because they work a different shift, now they must take baths at the same time and get all the hot water. I‘m so desperate I‘d go out and steal a house. Want to go along, anyone?“
“Not tonight,“ refused Tillie. “Maybe tomorrow. Say I‘ve just had a big bright idea. How about one of us marrying a house. I can‘t, of course, being already married, but any of you three can, and I can live with you.“
“I want a nice big house awfully bad,“ said Marcie, “but not that bad. However, Leona has
a hope chest. Let‘s find her a house with a man.“
“Marcie, you old meanie, you know I‘m practically engaged to Eddie, and as much as I‘d like to marry a house for all of you to live in, I‘m afraid I can‘t.“
The three looked at Jessie who looked away, her eyes filled with tears. Her heart was still filled with a big ache. No use asked her. Jessie had a house back home, plus a mortgage.
“Well, I guess we will just have to get down on our knees and pray for a house,“ said Leona.
Marcie‘s lips dropped poutingly, then twitched upward as she said, “that reminds me of our land lady at the Moonrise Courts, with her ankle length skirts and her old maid curls. Remember that old refrigerator which refused to work the day before we moved there? I can hear her yet as we asked her for the ninety-seventh time to fix it. ‘You know, dear folks, the Lord wants some people to have certain things, and some people not to have them. Maybe the Lord doesn‘t want you to have a refrigerator. If He did, you would have one.‘ Imagine thinking the Lord decided who is to have a refrigerator and who is not. Anyway we decided to move. That was only our third move. When we moved here it made the fourth. I feel like a checker sometimes, always on the move. Oh, I forgot to tell you, Tillie, that landlady got married and Mom wanted to go over
and ask her if she asked the Lord if He wanted her to have a man. It wasn‘t really a man she got though. It was a grandpa of about sixty and she was only twenty-eight.“
§5 - Rest Rooms
|Chapter 5 - p 051|
“Do you suppose,“ whispered Leona, a few days later, “that the folks on the other side o this paper wall have left us a teeny, weeny bit of hot water? If they have, I‘ll take a country school teacher‘s bath and go to bed. I‘m so tired. This bathroom reminds me of our rest room, always full of girls.“
“You should visit our rest rooms,“ said Tillie, as the four in various stages of undress were resting comfortably after their day‘s work.
“Why?“ inquired Jessie briefly.
Tillie answered, “We have a new matron now. A kindly, quiet, and very neat little person called Rose. You‘d never know the place. When she actually works, nobody knows -- once in a while if you go upstairs right after our shift whistle
|Chapter 5 - p 052|
blows you may meet her sweeping down the stairs, or washing basins in the lavatory. But that‘s a rare sight. Usually she sits neat as wax, talking to this girl and that as they drop into the chair beside her for a few minutes before going back to their tasks, giving you the impression you‘re actually visiting in her own parlor with all the time in the world. There‘s always fresh supplies of towels, soap, and whatever you need on hand, however. The bowls, walls, floors and lavatory are clean: evidence that Rose is very much on the job.
“The old girl in charge before Rose was terrific. She talked loud and long -- about herself and swore constantly at everything and everybody. When she didn‘t have one leg in the tall waste paper basket stomping down paper towels, so it would hold more han it was supposed to, before she had to empty it, she would be out in the sitting room, skirts pinned up about her hips, splashing and squeezing her wash rags around in the air so there was never any peace. The girls say they used purposely to go up at different fifteen minute periods to check and see if there was any time around the clock when the place was settled down, and not all the couches pulled from the walls at the same time, or some portion of the walls and floor not wet with slippery suds.
“So Rose came like a benediction to the place,
|Chapter 5 - p 053|
and we are grateful for the atmosphere of calm and peace she created.“
“Well,“ said Jessie, “I have only seen three of whatever number of rest rooms we have in our plant. When I started out to find the first one on my first day of work, I got lost both going and coming back. That was one time I saw a great deal of the plant without official permission. That room, I‘ll call it No. 1, was the largest of the three, and has four fountains where you can wash. I never saw a washing up fountain before, and at first I didn‘t know enough to stand on the water hose that circles the base. Pressure sends the water out in a spray somewhat like our shower if court No. 1 isn‘t using it. A container for soap powder is fastened above the spray. Then, of course, there is a big mirror which has always been so covered with girls faces everytime I was there that I couldn‘t even see if I had my own face or someone else‘s.
“There are several vending machines stating--Kotex 5c, Hollypax 5c--and under the first one is a sign: ‘If you don‘t need the safety pins, we do. See the matron.‘ I‘ve often wondered if she gets any of the pins, safety pins now being prized possessions. Big cans are always full of paper towels in spite of the plea: ‘Use as few towels as possible. Paper is scarce.‘
“Of course, the most important things after
|Chapter 5 - p 054|
the mirror are the toilets. I always liked No. 1 rest room best because on the back of the door in each stall is a hook to hang my apron on, and it‘s really private. You never see anything of your neighbor except her feet and maybe her slacks around her ankles. Once some old timers took me across several sections to a tiny rest room. It had a cot in it and looked so enticing I never dared go there again. However, the rest room I use now is between the other two in size. It has only one mirror, a folding chair, two of the usual vending machines, three or four paper towel containers, a couple of barrels for trash and about six stalls. The stall at the end is the most interesting. It has a coat hanger in it, and wash cloths hanging from it. One day there was a mysterious silk undergarment hung up there. While I sat there, I tried to decide to what gender it belonged. I still am not sure. It was large enough for either sex, and of apricot colored rayon. The crotch had a center piece in it that may have been an uplift for men or rubber protection for women.
“These stalls are parted from each other by a partition that reaches from about the middle of my leg to my shoulders, and as I am only about five feet you can guess how that hides some women. Oh, it‘s a nice cozy, chatty place. You can look over and see your neighbor, or if the other
|Chapter 5 - p 055|
five are standing up, you can see them, too. One day, I was sure a nudist had wandered in there, for when I looked over the top, there she stood, bare as “September Morn,“ and not nearly as pretty.
“Most of us go to the rest room once in our shift. Quite a number go twice to wash. Once before lunch, and once before going home, and some go several times. Some stall around, or even take a nap sitting on the throne using the nice soft roll of toilet paper for a pillow. Two of the women I know always go up--the rest room is across the building and up a flight of stairs--and come back at the same time. They are always on schedule, too, same time every day. Here comes May, and there, crossing over to meet May, is Fay. I called them twins one day, and Fay laughed and said, ‘Yes, we are the Feenamint twins.‘
“I enjoy our rest room not alone for the relief, but because it is a sort of Grand Central Station; crowds always arriving and crowds leaving.
“As you leave or arrive you can see a picture someone has cut from a paper and put up near the door. It shows a woman of about sixty, a good, strong, mannish looking type. She is saying, ‘Rest room, Hell! I ain‘t tired. Where‘s the can!‘ Some people read it again and again, and laugh everytime.“
|Chapter 5 - p 056|
“Say, let‘s all go to bed,“ said practical leona. “I know I wasn‘t half as tired after my first day‘s school teaching as I am tonight.“
“Maybe you think I‘m not tired,“ said Marcie. “Pull off the bedspread.“
“Yes, Marcie,“ said her mother. “I can see you‘re tired. You look thinner than ever. Come on, Tillie. Let‘s go to bed, too.“
|Chapter 5 - p|
§6 - First Aid
|Chapter 6 - p 057|
Jessie unlocked the apartment door and the four defense workers dragged themselves through and deposited their tired bodies on chairs.
Leona held her head back and said, “It surely feels like someone is bucking rivets in my head.“
Jessie looked worried, “You certainly don‘t look well, Leona. You have lost so much weight; why don‘t you ask for a different job?“
“That‘s what I‘ve been telling her for the last two weeks, but she is so easy. Guess she is afraid to ask for a transfer,“ Marcie said.
“No, I am not. I‘ll ask for one; just you wait. I know I can‘t stand this much longer,“ answered Leona.
“Oh, Mom, you have been to first aid. What
|Chapter 6 - p 058|
is wrong with your finger?“ asked Marcie with concern as she saw the bandage on Jessie‘s finger.
Jessie spread out the five fingers of her right hand palm upward. A bandage ringed the forefinger. Callouses showed plainly at the base of the last two fingers. Across the tips of three were small white blisters and a big blister in the center of the palm.“[This quotation mark does not belong there.]
“Oh, Mom,“ cried Marcie, “what a hand! Blisters on nearly every finger.“
“Not blisters, honey. Pearls of service,“ said Jessie.
“Well, how about the cut then. What can you call that?“ asked Marcie.
“It is nothing, only a little cut, but if the group leader sees a drop of blood, he chases you off to the first aid. First Aid is nearly as popular as the rest rooms. I‘ve never been there yet when it was empty, and I was there plenty of times in these first few weeks. But I got hurt more than this today.“
“Where else did you get hurt, Mom, and how?“ asked Leona, looking Jessie over for bruises and seeing none.
“Oh, you can‘t see this, and it happened today when the group leader gave me a sort of shears to use called a Dutchman‘s snips. I have seen men use tin snips, but they are only big scissors.
|Chapter 6 - p 059|
These things are different. One is called right hand, and one left hand; but they look the same to me. A broad, sharp beak that turns up on the ends, and has a stiff spring in the handle. The group leader said the way to use them was to put them on the line to be cut, then squeeze-relax, squeeze-relax. When you squeeze the snips cut, when you relax the handles fly apart something like a nut cracker, only with greater force.
“Well, today I was squeezing and relaxing and on one of the squeezes, as I held a wing vane up to my breast, the darned old snips pinched me, then I know how the woman who got her tit caught in the wringer felt. It hurt pretty badly but it was funny, too, so I went over to my neighbor, a pretty, plump blonde, whose life won‘t begin until next year if that celebrated book is right, and I said, “Say, if I tell you something, you won‘t tell, will you?“ She promised, so I told her. She laughed and said, ‘Oh, that is nothing; that has happened to me lots of times.[‘]“
“Speaking of accidents,“ said Marcie, “there seems to be an epidemic of them in my section these last few days. The punch press claimed two fingers from a girl, the band saws and pin routers weren‘t far behind either. Cuts and fingers missing seem to be part of the day‘s business.
“There are two kids of accidents, the careless
|Chapter 6 - p 060|
accident, and the circumstantial accident. The accidents from carelessness are the biggest percentage and problem, in spite of all the warning signs, safety rules, and regulations, there has been and always will be accidents. They forget to wear their eye shields or goggles, and if they do wear them, they dangle from their necks like necklaces or adorn their foreheads. I would like to put up a sign that would read, “Careless people cause accidents.“
[“]Well, I can‘t blame them,“ said Jessie, “Goggles make my head ache.‘[“]
“They wouldn‘t if they fit you, Mom,“ said Leona. [“]Get a pair made especially for you.“
“Indeed I won‘t,“ said Jessie. “I hate drilling, and the fast motors make me positively ill.“
“You must be on the wrong job, Jessie,“ said Tillie. “Why don‘t you do as you want Leona to do; change to something else?“
“Oh, it‘s too hard to get a transfer. Some of the girls have been trying for a year and they‘re still there. Of course, here is the case of Lena; she tried for three months and then one day she had the good luck to see something she shouldn‘t, so she got transferred quickly.“
“Why don‘t you see your lady counsellor about changing your job?“ asked Marcie. “Mom, she helps many people.“
“I never knew she cared about whether you
|Chapter 6 - p 061|
liked your job or not,“ said Jessie. [“]I heard her talk today and I thought she was mostly interested in how many baths we took. She said if we took a bath every other day before, we should take one every day now. If we took one a day before, now we should take two a day. Sounds like she means now we will get twice as dirty so we should be twice as clean.“
“Surely wish that lady would talk to Sally at our plant,“ said Tillie. “The group leader asked me a few weeks ago if I would gently hint that she needed a bath. I told him I would bring a bottle of deodorant if he would present it, and he said he would. So I took it and he gave it to her. I think she must have used it all up as the last few days she has been odorous again. He didn‘t pull any punches; he said, ‘We can give you a deodorant, but we can‘t go home with you and give you a bath; it‘s getting so bad around your bench it smarts my eyes.[‘]“
“That‘s telling them,“ cheered Leona. “He should have had Iris in his class at that lecture.“
“Yesterday Mary said to me, ‘Look at Iris‘s ear.‘ I said, ‘I have been looking at it for a week.‘ In one of the creases was not just a little smudge of dirt; it lay there so thick that I am sure you could have removed it all in one big piece. Mary said, ‘I guess she forgot to wash her ears.‘ ‘Yes, and that‘s not all she forgot to wash as you will find
|Chapter 6 - p 062|
out if you get closer to her,‘ I said.“
Jessie said, “I know that some of the people at the plant work harder and bathe less than before. We always know when one of the men in our section goes by even though we have our backs turned, the waves of perspiration sweep over us like the tide at the beach. It reminds me of a school boy Marcie was teaching English to. She tried her best to tell him it was not polite to say [‘]sweat]--perspiration was the word to use, but he stubburnly said, ‘Well, teacher, ladies may perspire, but men sweat,‘ and I agree, they really do.[“]
“Talking about First Aid,“ said Tillie, “I heard a joke and it‘s a true one.“
“Tell us at once, Tillie,“ commanded Leona. “We love jokes.“
“Well, it seems one of the men at the plant had a cold last night so he went to First Aid and told them he felt a cold coming on, he had a fever and a headache. It was nearly time for him to go home so the nurse gave him several pills and four to take home, with the instructions, ‘take one every hour.‘ The next day he asked for a short time card as he wanted to go home. He said, “‘I didn‘t get any sleep last night because the first four hours after I got home I sat up to take a pill every hour; the next four hours I sat up to go to the bathroom every hour, and now I‘m dead for
|Chapter 6 - p 063|
sleep and want to go home‘.“
“Tillie, you and the girls surely look dead for sleep yourselves. I‘d be profoundly grateful if Marcie and Leona were looking better, first Marcie loses her appetite and now Leona loses hers.“
“Mom,“ said Marcie, “my appetite says it might go for someof that potato salad in the ice box, cold milk, and some of those delicious looking cookies Tillie made to send to her husband. How about it, Tillie?“
“Just one apiece then,“ grudged Tillie. “I didn‘t make many and burned a pan of those. Guess we‘ll have to leave the dishes as usual. I never had so little time before in my life; it‘s hurry to go to bed so you can hurry up to go to work, and it‘s hurry from work so you can go to bed. I even sleep in a hurry now, and as for eating, I can‘t even eat slowly on Sundays when I have all day to do it in. I just bite, chew twice, and swallow once and then it‘s up to my stomach, poor thing,“ and she patted hur tummy.
“You‘re surely right, Tillie,“ said Leona with her eyes on Marcie who was unpinning her badge. “Hey, Marcie, how come you got a dot on your badge. Does that mean you belong to a secret society?“
“Yes, Lee, quite right. I belong to the invalid society. At first I wondered why everyone was
|Chapter 6 - p 064|
concerned over me, always asking me if I was married. Then I heard that a lot of pregnant girls wore them. I was mad clear though. I‘m going to lose this old pregnant badge someday. I‘m getting tired of people looking me over calculatingly, as if they were trying to decide whether I had thickened any place, and I[‘m] not even married.“
“Oh, Marcie,“ said Tillie, “that‘s silly, you know that lots of the girls and men, too, have dots in their badges. It doesn‘t mean a thing except that the dotted badge wearer can‘t do heavy work, and you light weight, you know you couldn‘t do hard work.“
“Over at our plan the people who can‘t stand, or can‘t lift, or have some physical ailment have red behind the number on their badge instead of a dot,“ said Leona.
“I never saw so many people who have physical ailments in one place in my life before,“ said Jessie. “This was has brought out the lame, halt and blind, and they are doing their share; you can tell Hitler they are. Men without an arm, or even minus both, without a finger or fingers, one leg gone, or both, blind girls and boys with their seeing eye dogs, the dead and dumb, all these are fitting and forming the parts of airplanes that will soon be flying over the sea.
“What burns me up, isn‘t a dot in a badge, it‘s
|Chapter 6 - p 065|
the way some man with his long permanent flying in the breeze comes up and shoves a few hairs, that wouldn‘t even make a good spit curl, under my bandana, and says, ‘I‘m sorry, Jessie, but you‘ll have to keep your hair out fo sight. It‘s one of the rules of safety, you know.‘ I suppose he‘s afraid I‘ll get my file caught in the stuff and warp the file.“
“It is rather trying,“ said Tillie, “but of course it is a rule.“
“I understand that around any machinery,“ said Jessie, “but in bench work you aren‘t apt to get your hair caught.“
“They tell some pretty gruesome tales of girls who have had their hair caught in machinery, part truth and part propaganda, no doubt,“ put in Marcie. “Well, anyway, I‘m going to wear that old pregnant badge in the ocean and some fish will have it for dinner some day.“
§7 - Air Raid Alarm -- Ice-Capades
|Chapter 7 - p 066|
The girls were awakened about three o‘clock Sunday morning.
“What‘s that awful noise?“ cried Marcie jumping out of bed and tunring the light switch with no results. Then she headed for the door. “It sounds like the fire siren.“
“It surely is a fire siren,“ Tillie said, as Marcie flung open the door. “Maybe it‘s a fire close to us.“
“Listen to that P.A.,“ exclaimed Jessie. The girls lived close enough to the plant to be able to hear the sounds plainly but not understand the words.
“It must be the plant, but I can‘t see any sign
|Chapter 7 - p 067|
of fire over that way,“ said Leona. “Maybe it‘s an air raid.“
“Everyone at the plant has been expecting one anytime now,“ said Marcie, “but I hope it‘s not that.“
Jessie said, “Somehow a person seems to associate dark nights and dark deeds, but this night is beautifully starlit.“ Just then giant lights searched the sky and found the airplane, a silver speck.
“It looks about as big as one of those little airplanes we wear on our coats,“ stated Leona.
“It certainly does,“ agreed Jessie. “Look, the plane has moved out of the light. Now I see why enemies might pick out a starlit night. The lights that flicker on and off might be mistaken for stars.“
“Look! LOOK!“ cried Marcie, as as the search light found a new mark. “That must be the new ship, the ‘Constellation,‘ it‘s so big.“
“No, look, it‘s spreading into a V; it‘s a formation. Let‘s count how many airplanes are in it,“ suggested Millie.
Leona had been busy counting. “Twelve planes and all flying together as one. Isn‘t it wonderful?“ she asked.
“Yes,“ said Jessie, “wonderful and so comforting. Wings over head, as a mother bird spreads her wings over her brood, so does Uncle
|Chapter 7 - p 068|
Sam‘s eagles spread their wings over us.“
“You know,“ said Leona, “I never look at an airplane but I always of those boys in Ellendale College, who were once our pals, and now many of them ar [sic] flying planes like those up there. Some of the best of them are missing in action.“
“Let‘s go in before I start to cry. The air raid alarm is over. I see the lights coming on again in the houses,“ said Marcie.
“We had an air raid alarm at the Plant last night,“ Jessie said. “I imagine if the English people could have seen us taking our time going to the bomb shelters, laughing, talking, seeing it mostly as a relaxation from work, they would have thought, ‘It‘s easy to see those people have no dread of invasion. To them it‘s something that happens to other people.‘ Our bomb shelter too, was a makeshift. We just wandered into an outer wing of one of the buildings.“
“We really went into bomb shelters,“ said Leona.
“Well, we couldn‘t,“ replied Jessie yawning. “Our bomb shelters aren‘t completed yet.“
“Let‘s go back to bed until this afternoon, then go down to the Ice-Capades,“ suggested Marcie.
“That‘s a swell idea,“ said Tillie. “We can eat downtown and let someone else wash our dishes.“
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They took the bus to town, and rode a street car out to the Ice-Capades.
“So this is the Pan Pacific Auditorium. Isn‘t it big?“ asked Jessie, as the four took seats at the very ringside.
“Aren‘t you glad we got the best seats now, Mom?“ asked Marcie. “See, from here you can get the best view of everything.“
“It is awfully hot outside, and here too. Do you suppose that‘s real ice?“ remarked Jessie.
“Feel and see,“ suggested Leona.
Jessie took her at her word and bent down to feel. “Yes,“ she said with a big sneeze, “it is ice, and just as cold as it is in Minnesota.“
“Bet you never saw an ice rink there with such beautiful designs in it, did you, Mom?“
“I‘ll bet you haven‘t either.“
“No,“ agreed Leona. “I haven‘t.“
“What beautiful costumes, and skating like I never saw before,“ said Marcie. “I wish I could skate like those girls.“
“Skate like those girls?“ said Millie. “Why don‘t you want to skate like the “Silver Streak?“ He looks just like a Greek statue come to life.“
“I agree with you, Tillie. He surely does, and he has about as much on as they.“
“Well, he‘s got a big excuse for showing off his handsome physique, not like the skinny bathing he-beauties at the beach,“ said Tillie. “To
|Chapter 7 - p 070|
every thousand girls with beautiful figures, there is one man who has the strong build women admire.“
“Tillie, it‘s a good thing the show is over and we are taking you home or you might forget your hubby and skate away with the streak,“ teased Marcie.
“No, I‘d never forget Sam, and I can just picture myself running aft the “Silver Streak“ with skates on and me falling down so he could pick me up. It wouldn‘t be an act, either, for skates and I don‘t get along together; they go one way and I go the other. Let‘s hurry out and catch a street car so we can get home early for once.“
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§8 - Problems in Black and White
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“Do the people at Plant 1 ever bring any pictures to show around?“ asked Tillie, as the girls were dressing for work.
“I‘ll say they do,“ said Jessie. “I think there is hardly one who hasn‘t brought pictures of his or her family to work. Sometimes they only bring a couple of the prettier ones, but some of them bring out a dozen or more.“
“Have you taken ours yet, Mom?“ laughed Marcie.
“No, Im [sic] waiting until you and Leona get yours taken next week; then I can take two oil painted pictures two by three feet, and throw all those colored snap shots and cabinet size photographs
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in the shade.“
“Oh, Mom, you wouldn‘t do that, would you?“ asked Marcie scandalized.
“You can never tell,“ answred her mother, enjoying the teasing. “That‘s not the only amusement we have at the plant either, for the people there like to tell stories, and sometimes they don‘t even wait until smoking period, or lunch, to tell them. I guess they‘re afraid they‘ll forget. I never laugh at nasty stories, to me they are just not funny ,so [sic] no one bothers to tell me any. There used to be some funny moron stories going the rounds, but now they are out of date, I guess, for i never hear them anymore. Hugh, one of the men who is at the beck and call of every girl in our section when she wants something lifted, dragged, or just a little help over some hard spot, told a good one about a man in his outfit in the army. The boys told him he could ask for a furlough and three years‘ pay in advance. So he asked, and then he complained to the boys, ‘you told me I could ask,‘ and then they said, ‘Sure, we told you you could ask, but we never told you that you‘d get it, did we‘?“
“I think this must be a joke,“ said Tillie, “but someone at the plant told me that one day a man in one section called out, ‘Hey, Okie, come and help me a minute,‘ and all the men left their jobs and came except one.“
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“If that‘s true, it shows a wonderfully fine sense of cooperation,“ said Marcie, “and if they were all Okies or not, they have my compliments.“
“That reminds me,“ said Leona. “I heard of a man, who, when they told him his starting wage would be seventy-five cents, said, ‘No, sir, I can‘t do it; I never worked for less than a dollar a day in my life.‘ I guess he couldn‘t understand how anyone could earn seventy-five cents in only one hour.“
Marcie said, “I have a better one than that. Over at X------, a new man worked right through three shifts, twenty-four hours, then he said to the group leader, ‘I got through the first twenty-four hours all right, but I don‘t know how I‘ll get through the next twenty-four; I‘m pretty tired‘!“
Tillie said, “Jessie, put a couple of those ear plugs we use in the factory in your ears. I want to tell the girls about one of the gifts that a girl who terminated today received. One had a card attached that read:
‘I think you‘re pretty,
“I guess that doesn‘t fit in very well after all those really funny stories, but it made me smile anyway,“ said Tillie.
“Today, I saw a Negro girl going into the plant
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ahead of me. She was wearing one of the sheerest white blouses I have ever seen. Her dark skin beneath that white film looked like just black satin underwear,“ said Jessie.
“There surely are a lot of Negroes there,“ said Leona, “from the darkest to the lightest shade. Lazy and indifferent, energetic and hard working. From the aristocratic looking Negro to the slum type, they mingle in work, with the white people, who have the same attributes as they show.“
“Since I‘ve read “The Sun is My Undoing,“ remarked Jessie, “I look at each Negro girl with interest, asking myself if this one could be any sort of stand-in for SHeba. Their hair is fascinating to me; not one has the kinky hair I always think of in regard to them. I guess most of them have had it oiled and straightened. You feel almost certain you could wring oil out of it. One of the girls has hers combed into a sort of stiff crown effect. It looked different and awfully becoming.“
“Do you know,“ said Tillie, “the black race interests me too. I have always known so little about them, and now I work with black and white people alike. I sometimes find the black getting whiter, and the white getting blacker.
“Until today I never discovered I had definite feelings about color and race. The man from Pasadena standing beside me at the Hydro Press
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scowled and look darkly behind me. I turned and saw a colored man tying up parts, my old job.“
He said, “Howard better not get any ‘Niggers‘ in this department. If he does, we‘ll all walk out.“
“I won‘t,“ I said hotly, and my own words surprised me. Here I was taking a stand on that age-old problem of race.
“For just what has one‘s race or color to do with this war for freedom? Not so long ago our country divided to fight against slavery for the colored people. Now it‘s their chance to pay back either on the battle front, in the air, sea, or here in this factory.
“L----- gave me a funny look. I could see right away that I‘d fallen in his estimation. But never mind, I still felt right about it inside. L----- began all the stereotyped arguments:
“How would I like to sleep with them? Would I want to live beside one? Etc. It didn‘t seem worth the effort to scream above the roar of the press that I‘d seen many a white man and woman I‘d neither car to eat with nor sleep beside, nor live near.
“But I couldn‘t refrain from uttering the thought flashing through my mind which I put to L----- in the form of a question:
“‘Do you think,‘ I said, ‘that the Man called Christ,‘ Abraham Lincoln, or Franklin Delano
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Roosevelt would refuse to stand beside a colored man?‘
“L----- looked at me blankly.
“‘They are pretty big men, you know,‘ I added.
“L----- hasn‘t spoken to me since.
“The war has called our bluff. We must prove our democracy.
“And now there is Lucy. In her place, I‘ve often wondered if I could manage to sustain the fine line of balance that the decent Negro must, remembering the obligation they have to us, at the same time holding and retaining their own ground with the same sense of personal dignity, as she does.
“She came, that first day, not meekly, but quietly, waiting to see if we could accept her. At rest period she sat apart, not humbly, exactly, but with that sad, and patient look some Negroes have, still waiting. When one of the girls said, ‘Come on over, Lucy, and join the crowd‘, she didn‘t jump eagerly like a dog for a bone, but again with a sense of dignity, feeling her ground. Never at any time has she lowered her banners to let anyone feel she thinks she is inferior, yet never has she become offensive in the opposite direction.
“There is only one aristocracy, qualities of heart and mind. Her conversation, for the most
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part, lies along the higher levels. Her own race has achieved some mark of distinction in progressive lines of endeavor. George Washington Carver and his experiments in peanuts, Carl Van Vetcher Books, Marion Anderson, Lena Horn, and others.
“Lucy worked her way through two years of college and proved her ambition further by overriding the personal interview who tried to suggest her into a janitress job in Pasadena, paying the same salary as a defense plant.
“She has an intelligent super-sensitiveness to her surroundings, a psychic quality permitting her to see through people with the greatest of ease, and a deep, rich sense of humor which lifts the weight off any situation threatening to become too serious to our sometimes nerve jangled selves, making us all see it, in the end, lightly and with laughter.
“If I could do what I honsetly would like to do, I should say, ‘Lucy, come see me sometime. We‘ll have a cup of tea and a lot of good laughs‘.
“But L-----, you win. There it is after all. Old inhibitions crop up. My husband wouldn‘t like it. Probably I‘d fear what the neighbors might say.
“What cowardly hypocrites we are, after all. Will the time ever come when all hate and fear and prejudice of race and creed are wiped from
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the face of our little world?
“Jesus, Mr. Lincoln, and Mr. Roosevelt: I wonder; what do they have that we lack?“
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§9 - He Wolves and She Wolves
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Jessie was stacking away the blankets used on what the girls always called the “Day Coach“, “Say, Tillie,“ she began, “everyone at the plant gets a big kick out of calling the men wolves. I suppose the girls think they are the lambs. I think most of the lambs I have seen there have been to the market. What do you think?“
“Well, I guess they have Jessie, but everyone enjoys the joke, why not repeat it? I like to laugh and so do most people. It‘s a big laugh sometimes to hear some of those men howl when an extra cute slack wearer goes by with ribbons and what-nots in her hair, some of them remind me of the decorations horses used to wear on their heads in a parade.
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“I never knew there were so many ways to wear your hair before I came here,“ stated Leona.
“Yes, and so many things to wear in it and on it. There is one hair-do I think is a scream, the wearer puts the front up high over a big rat, sort of a gay ninety hair-do except she lets the back fall into a bag behind; this is made by pinning a silk scarf, any kind or color, so long as it‘s square, to the back of the up-sweep then take the ends and tie in a knot -- thus you have what I call an aircraft hair-do. I thought everyone had to wear shoes with toes and heels,“ said Jessie, “and I saw lots of the girls wear heelless, toeless shoes every day to work. They even have their toe nails painted red.“
“Those are the girls from the offices no doubt, they don‘t even wear stockings,“ said Leona.
“One of that kind went by today at smoking period, a slinky dark eyed girl, who acted like she was practicing the rhumba. You should have heard the wolf howl that went up. I wonder why they call the men wolves? It doesn‘t sound like a compliment to me, yet they all seem to enjoy being called one,“ said Jessie.
“Well, said Tillie, “they probably haven‘t looked it up in the dictionary. The definition given there of a wolf is a rapacious person or thing. In English that‘s about it, but in good old American
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language, a wolf needs a little explaining.
“In the American language a He-wolf is a two-legged male creature, anywhere from thirty to forty and on up, so long as he can keep up. He is usually married, in fact almost always married, with a picture of his family in his wallet (which he shows to everyone) and Mama at home rocking baby while he makes hay with the sun shining on the war‘s surplus of women.
“She-Wolves are dames without a man, and are out to get one or else (the worst variety) a two-legged female creature who goes about showing pictures she carries in her purse, pictures of husband and a baby. The papa belonging to the She-Wolves is either home tending baby on alternate shifts, or just home, period. These She-Wolves are [an] ultra greedy kind, wanting to eat their cake and have it too. Sometimes they merely want to re-test their powers; having captured one man they wonder, can they still do it? This feeds their vanity and showing husbandless girls how it‘s done, gives added kick. They always mistake the righteous indignation of decent girls for jealousy.
“All wolves secretly enjoy their title. These folks wouldn‘t enjoy a quiet, well-manered, discreet affair which according to Sunday school rules would still be wrong, but at least their own business. Heck no! wolves don‘t enjoy wolfing
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without an audience. In fact without an audience they wouldn‘t be wolves. They are exhibitionists suffering from inferiority complexes. They not only have to prove themselves that they are good, but to everyone else as well. If they were not exhibitionists, the She-Wolves would conform to rules and wear clothes showing some semblance of good taste, instead of loud colors to attract attention, ‘advertise‘ as I heard one man say, leave the gardenias out of their hair, the sheer blouses and sweaters minus brassieres at home. In short, stop practicing all the artifices associated with that oldest of all the professions for women.
“He-Wolves show exhibitionism in more perverted form; they don‘t wear special costumes, in fact they believe all women are so mad for them it wouldn‘t matter what they wore. They want all women and hope three-fourths of the guys believe they have something ultra spcial in the way of a treat. If the girls refuse to sample it, well they are fools and that‘s just their hard luck. They get to believing it themselves, that they are utterly devastating.“
“Do you know, Tillie,“ said Jessie, as Tillie finished her speech. “You should be a lecturer, writer or a reformer. That was darn good, wasn‘t it, girls?“
“Surely was,“ agreed Leona, “[blocked by my finger, likely “Marcie“] and Til-
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lie must be both tarred with the same stick, they think pretty much the same most times.“
“Tillie,“ said Marcie, “You are a gal after my own pattern and I love you for it. It warms a body‘s heart to have people agree with their ideas and you surely expressed my thoughts in a very adequate manner.“
“So that‘s what a wolf is, Tillie,“ said Jessie, “Looking back now I can see I‘ve been associating with wolves unknowingly. Don‘t look startled, girls, I mean I‘ve seen them and watched their purposeful and deadly playfulness without knowing what it was; perhaps I thought it was romance.“
“Most of the four-legged variety I‘ve heard about run about in packs with a leader, but this is a new type called aircraft wolves. They are all alone wolves, for each of them wants to be the leader. There‘s nothing so pathetic or maybe I should say funny, as the old wolf,“ said Leona. “He has either been a dashing young man that had a way with women and can‘t give up his habits, or he has married very young and hasn‘t ever had a fling. There is one of the last kind in the department I work in.
“Jack saw Emily and seeing a chance to make up for the past thirty years of staying home nights and locking the doors with himself inside, decided to make up for his deficiencies. He showed
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Emily his purse, using as you say, the excuse of showing his family; in this case he had only his wife, but what Emily saw was not a sour looking, middle aged woman, but the hundred dollar bills stacked therein.
Immediately there began a sort of trade between them. Emily traded her former ten dollar boy friends for Jack, who could throw one hundred dollar bills around here and thre. Jack traded the sleep that he needed for a wild goose chase that ended when Emily saw that she wasn‘t getting anything much out of the deal; only a great many unpleasant digs from envious girl friends. Besides Jack bored her stiff and I don‘t blame her, for if there is anything that is more nauseating than warm water and mustard, it‘sold men kicking up their old heels trying to be colts again.“
“There‘s a couple of men in my department,“ said Marcie, “that have been married and now are on the loose again. One isn‘t exactly a wolf, he belongs to the wolf species, probably more of a coyote, for he wants to get married again. He is wiser than the other man for her knows what he wants, a woman to cook, mend, sew, baby him when he‘s sick, listen to his woes and complaints, take care of the two children he already has and stay home and smile while she‘s doing it.
“The other man has no intention of making any
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woman honorable. He wants a good time and takes a woman along because she is one of the necessary ingredients. He likes the women young and pretty and innocent like a young girl of high school age he has just finished with, or he likes the women older, say forty, they know a few things and don‘t expect anything; some of them even pay the bills as the old girl he has now does. He doesn‘t have to do much howling to attract attention. He‘s one of those men who just has to be himself and the women jump through hoops of convention and catch something or other on the jagged edges.“
“There is one of those in my section,“ said Jessie, “only he lacks the luster of that young man. This one only uses his big expensive car that he can‘t affod and gas from the black market to take a whole load of young ladies, married or single, here and there, hoping at least one of them pays off. I never heard of any that did but he still has hopes.“
“There are so many in my department,“ said Tillie, “you can hardly throw a file without hitting one like M----- who has a wife and a girl friend, and juggles them both in the air, but not with ease. He is always upset and so are they. His mind clings to his home and boy, but his pleasure in a pretty face and a cute figure will not be [covered by my finger], so there he is, racing between them to
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catch one or the other before they fall, and although it‘s tiring he can‘t decde which he will let fall.“
“I think,“ said Leona, “that there are just as many She-Wolves as He-Wolves, in fact lots more since the war began. The She-Wolves, or Wolf-usses, are so numerous now that they are much less particular, and fight between themselves for what the war has left to them. She-Wolves unlike He-Wolves usually travel in packs, picking out their prey from the nice wooly lambs, or the papa sheep with a fat pocket book. Take Susie, in my own department for instance. She picked an old wooly papa sheep for her prey. She got him too, but mama sheep sheared off all of papa‘s wool before he got his divorce. So Susie said she guessed she would just ‘keep on working,‘ and no doubt looking around and hoping for better luck next time.
Just a pain in a neck these wolves and wolfusses and I mean fusses for that‘s exactly what they are, a big fuss, always telling their romances to us: how he has a wife who doesn‘t want children or she has a husband that doesn‘t want to go out nights. We live over again every thrill or pang they ever had. Oh, although our lives in aircraft may be wearing there‘s never a dull moment. No, not one.“
“Oh dear,“ said Jessie, “I hear the neighbor
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girl flouncing around in bed; I suppose we have been talking too loud again. I surely hope we find a house soon.“
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§10 - Group Leaders and Lead Men
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“Do you know Mom,“ said Marcie, “when the people at the factory say ‘my house‘ I look at them in awe. I wonder if they are super-men or super-women or by what miracle they achieved what they want. Imagine a whole house to ourselves, no near neighbors I hope, for Mom‘s sake, for I can‘t forget how fidgety she got at the Merry Inn Auto Court after the neighbors had one by one complained to her that we didn‘t live right. She thought everytime anyone walked near our door, they were coming to complain.
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“Imagine Millie, one of the men said he and his wife couldn‘t sleep because we ate late at night. I always heard coffee keeps one awake, but it‘s pretty bad when the coffee we drink keeps our neighbors awake. He said it wasn‘t just the coffee either; sometimes it sounded like we were pounding beef steak for an army. But the worst of all was the neighbor lady who complained that our cooking odors annoyed her couch and the shrubbery. It‘s getting pretty bad when even the shrubbery holds its nose. I think the happiest day of my life will be when we move into a house.“
“Mine too,“ agreed Leona. “I got my review today. Did you get yours, Marcie?“
“No, not yet,“ answered Marcie.
“Review,“ said Jessie. “That‘s the paper you get every so often, so about every three or four months to tell you you‘ll get a raise in pay, isn‘t it?“
“Well, not always Mom,“ said Marcie. “There are three automatic raises with no reviews and sometimes if you are extra good or the group leader enjoys your stories or compliments, you get a special review.“
“Speaking of group leaders, Tillie, how‘s yours?“ asked Leona.
“Well, Leona, since you have asked me, you might as well settle yourself, for I am really going
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to tell you. Of course, I think these men have a difficult job. In fact, I know they have a difficult job. Some of them have never worked with women before. They have been in a man‘s world, enjoying the lax freedom of their own fraternity. Some of them are suddenly transplanted from routine, inconspicuous jobs, to leaders with the spot light on them. In some cases it goes to their heads. They lose their heads. Many stand the test admirably. At any rate the test begins. They begin to know themselves and to find out plenty about nature, especially human nature. The men with whom they have been working suddenly become jealous and envious, showing it less than a woman perhaps, but it‘s there just the same. The women working under them, if they are dishonest, resort to feminine tricks. They flatter the lead man, and begin in all possible ways to ingratiate themselves, knowing that with certain types of men the easiest and quickest way to a better job is to get right next to him, and not waste time in honest effort. Some of them flaunt their sex. If the lead men are susceptible from then on, they are asking for plenty of trouble. As one punch press operator remarked, ‘Some of these men act like they never had access to women before.‘“
“A recent columnist in a West Coast paper calls attention to this situation in our war plants. ‘[Obscured, likely “The“]
|Chapter 10 - p 091|
heads of one defense plant on the west coast adivsed their supervisors to adjure their leaders to study women, and try to understand them, thus eliminating the high percentage of terminations due to this cause.‘ Statistics in a short time have proved since this plan was adopted, that the loss of women workers in this particular plant has greatly diminished in a comparatively short time. The point can be driven home by comparing the leaders in two different departments. In department A, the group leader becomes interested in and engaged to a young lady in his section. No one knew this for a long time, simply because with her cooperation and considerate understanding, he was able to maintain toward her and the other workers an impersonal, impartial attitude while on the job.
“In department B, the leader daily affronted his people with misconduct on the job. He pinched the girls‘ fannies, grabbed one, a pretty dispatcher, at the end of rest period before she could jump down from the table where she was sitting at hte time, giving her a good cheek rub and hug in a corner of his own section. The day before, he had shown me a picture of his wife and baby daughter which made the act even more offensive. The atmosphere and working conditions became worse and worse, always with each situation traceable to him as immediate in-
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stigator. He also had the quality of mind which runs to practical jokes, at other peoples‘ expense. In my own case, his attempt was subtly proved abortive because I treated his act, which he meant to be cleverly insulting, in a light manner. He hung on my fanny one day, a rejected sign, a card which we used for parts, imperfect or not wanted. I just bantered, ‘You should have hung a “re-work“ sign there‘ and sat down to my work, reminding myself once more that I really must stop eating pie and try to knock off a few pounds. I repeat, the job requires handling. A man is, after all, a man, and becomes either disgusted or stimulated according to the quality of his thinking. So long as girls and women of cheap taste are allowed to come to work in sweaters, minus brassieres, sheer blouses with few undergarments, gardenias in their hair and languishing attitudes, the situation won‘t clear. This is, after all, America, where choice of work is yet voluntary. If these maidens were controlled, they might return to main street, or greener, gayer pastures. Perhaps those in power know that.
“Be that as it may. The group leaders and lead men are on a spot, and therefore have a larger responsibility to themselves and others. If not, they call forth criticism, not always from sex repressed and inhibited old ladies either, because a split-shift man, his second night on the job, af-
|Chapter 10 - p 093|
ter watching the antics of the leadman and his reigning favorite of the moment, turned to me and said, ‘How do guys like him get jobs like that?‘“
“I like my group leader or maybe I should say group leaders,“ said Jessie, “because I‘ve had three so far. The first one, Charlie gave me a file and I filed, but he was kind and he explained things. He never was cross and I guess he didn‘t belong to the kind of group leaders you know, Tillie, because he seldom noticed the pretty girls. Of course our blonde lirt, Roberta, used to corral him for an hour while she talked and he talked and she fiddled with a file, never getting a thing done. It was a cute trick; I envied her, but I couldn‘t do it. She didn‘t make any headway though, but of course she rested comfortably during the conversation.
“The second one was always on a run and you had to run after him to get some work to do. Some of the girls didn‘t like him, Roberta for instance, for she couldn‘t talk herself into a rest period. He was as fair a group leader as one can be who has a dozen women or more desiring light [blocked by my finger] work, and only so much to be had. The ones who kicked the hardest did the least work, the mousey ones, the most. Now we have a gay young blade, as my grandfather used to say. He likes to play jokes on the women, sending them
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for tools that haven‘t been invented yet, and pinning a “rush“ sign on them, tieing a string on the timekeeper, even putting a “this end first“ sign on the supervisor‘s rear. He is fair and good, too, and I think he likes me, and I like him. Once he looked kind of lost and I said to him, ‘It would take a mixture of a diplomat, Casanova, and a Philadelphia lawyer to keep a bunch of women satisfied, wouldn‘t it?“ He said, ‘Yes, and not only the women[.] The men are just as bad. I‘ve been here four and a half years and when I first began, if a man refused to do the work he was told to do, I said, ‘All right, go down to the office and termnate.‘ Now I take him over to the work and ask, ‘How would you like to do this job?‘ If he hesitates and says, “Well, I--“, I say, ‘Never mind, if you don‘t like the job, I‘ll find you another job you will like.‘
“Of course, sometimes when I have to get a motor and a sanding drum and sand on steel all day, I tell myself, ‘I swear I‘ll go up and threaten to terminate.‘ Then I think to myself that they‘d only say, ‘Well, go ahead and termnate. There are lots more like you and better,‘ so I stay and sand. Sanding is really sand papering with a motor, and dirty work, as the sand paper disintegrates, and the roughened metal gives away a shower of dirt which covers you.
“I remember one day the group leader gave
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me a drilling job. I think there were fifty holes to be drilled along the sides of a lopsided, shaky piece of metal. It wasn‘t held in a jig, as many parts are. You turned it this way and that, upside down, and down side up, to reach the holes. You also used five motors with different size drills in them. I drilled one and sweat began to start from every pore. On the second part I broke a drill and almost cried. It was awful standing there debating with myself whether I should go ahead or not. I looked around and saw only about two dozen parts, so I thought I‘d clench my teeth and go on. My bench partner was drilling the left side and I the right; they were just alike. She was enjoying herself making holes, breaking drills were incidental to her, not a tragedy as I felt them to be. ‘Holy mackerel!‘ she exploded. ‘We‘ll be at this all day; “look at that box.‘ I looked and saw hundreds of those miserable parts stacked high in a big box. I took the drill again and began on the row of holes, but I couldn‘t finish, I just couldn‘t. I don‘t care if I get fired,‘ I told myself, with tears running down my face. ‘I can‘t do this; and humbly I went and explained to our group leader that I was nervous and asked if I could exchange work with someone. It sounds easy, but it wasn‘t. I didn‘t want to be a quitter.“
“Mom,“ said Marcie, “you weren‘t a quitter;
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you tried, didn‘t you? And you worked in someone else‘s place while he drilled, didn‘t you?“
“Yes, I did,“ said Jessie, “but I still feel badly about it.‘
“Too bad some of the people who work at the plant can‘t have sme [sic] of your conscience, Mom. It makes me so mad when I have to listen to the gripes of people who are expected to pay income tax. Some of them didn‘t even want raises in pay because then they will have to pay income tax. Some are going to take off a month or two to avoid helping to pay for the liberty they enjoy. They want to live in the best country in the world, enjoy its freedom and privileges, doing and saying anything or nothing as they choose, and let someone else pay the bill.“
“Let‘s go to bed,“ said Leona.
“All right,“ said Jessie. “Don‘t forget to turn off the gas tightly. Remember that handsome guard from Georgia, with the delightful southern accent? I heard today that he died a week ago. Forgot to shut off the gas.“
“Oh, Mom, how horrible!“ said Marcie. “It makes me feel sad. I‘m afraid I can‘t sleep now.“
“Nonsense,“ said Tillie, “open the windows and we‘ll all be asleep in ten minutes.“
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§11 - Rain
|Chapter 11 - p 097|
Jessie hurried to lock her drawer, get her coat and time card, and it was only two minutes after the whistle when she checked out. She saw, as she got to the door, that the rain had begun again. They had just begun a sewage system large enough to control the flood waters, but they had started too late.
On the third day of rain, the street in front of the plant was a rushing river. It didn‘t just look like a rushing river, either, as Jessie found out when she started across after Leona to the corner where they caught their ride. She hated to do it, having neither boots nor rubbers on. Of course, rubbers would have been no use anyway, for this torrent was nearly up to her knees. She didn‘t expect to find a current in the water, but it struck her with such force that she nearly
|Chapter 11 - p 098|
fell. She dropped her tweed coat that she had been holding up out of the water, and the bottom became a soggy weight to drag her down. She was sure that every step would be the stumble that would land her in the water in a heap. She could hardly be much wetter than she was already and, as she reached the other roadside, her coat, from just below the knee, had absorbed all the water it could hold. It swung heavy and dripping. She was completely miserable as she waited beside Leona and watched other crossing the road after her. Some were Californians of years standing and were prepared with rain coats, rain hats, and umbrellas and high rubber boots. Most of the people were unprepared even after three days of rain. Perhaps they thought that because the sun shone for a time each day the rain didn‘t mean business.
“Mom, you should have seen the girls drying their anklets on the light bulbs today,“ Leona said.
“I even took along a dry pair of anklets myself, and they surely felt good to my feet when I changed my wet, cold ones. I should have a rain coat, but I guess my old tweed coat is as good as your new rain coat,“ said Jessie.
“It surely is. These war-time rain coats are no better than a cloth coat,“ answered Leona.
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“You know, Leona, I think there should be a law that only people six feet or taller could carry umbrellas. Those short people who go around poking you in the ribs or eyes with the sharp ends annoy me, to say it politely.“
“Mom, did you see the people wearing newspapers over their heads to keep the rain away today?“ asked Leona.
“Yes. We used to think it rained back home,“ said Jessie, “but this California rain is the wettest rain I ever felt.‘
“It surely is, Mom,“ said Leona. “I never saw so many wet people before, all hurrying to busses, cars, bicycles, motorcycles, station wagons, and those little scooters. I don‘t think the scooters will get through this river though.“
“You know, Leona,“ said Jessie, “I heard something kind of funny today after we were separated by the crowd. There we stood waiting to get in the gate, a mass of people of all kinds. The rain had stopped before beginning again. A woman next to me looked up at the sky and told her friend standing near by, ‘It‘s going to rain pitch forks and nigger babies.‘ I turned to see the weather forecaster, and noticed as I did, a negro woman right at her elbow.
“The negro woman couldn‘t help hearing and I wondered what she thought; if she would be glad to have a downpour of babies. The
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weather broadcaster was unconscious of any breach of politeness; she hadn‘t even seen the negro woman.“
“Do you think this rain will last much longer?“
“I don‘t know, but the people who have been here quite a while say three weeks or more,“ answered Leona.
“Oh, for goodness sakes,“ wailed Jessie, “I don‘t believe I can stand that.“
“Oh, after we all get rain coats, hats, and rubber footwear, it won‘t be so bad. You‘ll get used to it,“ comforted Leona.
“Well, maybe so. Here‘s our ride at last. Get in, so we can get home and warm up.“
They turned on the gas stove in the little living room and hovered over it, shivering; all but Marcie who almost fell into the first chair she came to.
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§12 - Tribute to Lawrence Buist, Hero
|Chapter 12 - p 101|
“What‘s wrong, Marcie?“ asked her mother as Marcie listlessly sat in the big easy chair. Marcie‘s face looked white and drawn against the rich red flowers of the tapestry chair back. “Is this timekeeping getting you down?“
“No, Mom, it‘s not timekeeping that bothers me tonight. Isn‘t it awful, how we never notice a shining character until it has ceased to shine where we can see it? I feel ashamed that I treat my people so casually. There speaks a school teacher calling my section my people.
“Today all my section was downhearted. One of them is gone and will never return to his bench. He didn‘t go willingly; he left protesting all the way. None of us knew that eleven days before the doctor had told him he had pneumo-
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nia. Imagine being that ill and thinking and showing that your job is more important than even you. His vacation was coming up in a few days and he wanted to hang on until then.
“I cried like a baby,“ said Marcie, with tears running down her cheeks, as if to show them exactly how she had cried. “I couldn‘t help it when Hal and Tommie told me about visiting him in the hospital today. His nurse said he had been unconscious or delirious most of the time before, fighting with the nurses to get out of bed and go back to work. “‘I tell you, they need me at the plant. Please let me go. Don‘t you know we are at war? Please, please! Let me go back to work. They need me; you don‘t know how they need me. I‘m no slacker. They need, need, need!‘ . . . and so hekept on and on. WHen they entered the room, awkwardly ill at ease, their hats in their hands, they saw that for the small, slender Scotsman, work was over; that the once strong, capable hands clenched tightly on the bed spread were his last hold on life. Even then the bag pipes of death were calling the Scotsman away. Softly, Hal and Tommy drew near the bed, and as one of the two spoke, Scotty recognized his voice and listened quietly. ‘Scotty,‘ Tommy said, ‘don‘t worry about the work. We are doing fine. Your vacation starts today. Rest easy. This is your vacation. Everyone needs
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a vacation, and you have certainly earned yours.‘ That seemed to be just what Scotty was waiting for -- his vacation. So he slipped quietly away. For the last time it was IN on his time card, and today he would punch OUT and never again hear the roar of the big hydros, the almost human scream of the pin routers, the protest of the band saws. After this it would be the quiet of eternity.
“Mother, I tell you they could truthfully write above his grave: Lawrence Buist, Born March 7, 1901, at Kircaldy, Scotland: War Worker. Gave his life in the performance of duty to his country.
“He gave all he had to give; who could do more? Not even the Scots who with Wallace fought and bled.“
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§13 - A Date -- Writer‘s Cramp
|Chapter 13 - p 104|
“Leona and Tillie, you surely need not take a back seat at any cooking class. You two and Mom are the world‘s best cooks,“ said Marcie as she eyed the dishes on the table, one, a big mound of mashed potatoes with margarine melting on the peak; and rounded balls of hamburger with little white quills of rice peeking through a tomato sauce seasoned with onions and spices occupied the center of the table.
“Mashed potatoes and porcupines,“ explained Marcie. “Who could ask or wish for more?“
Leona, her face prettily flushed from the heat of the gas stove said, “Well, if we are the best cooks in the world you surely aren‘t a good advertisement for us. A hundred and four pounds, aren‘t you now?“
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“You‘re not such a good ad yourself,“ retorted Marcie with spirit, “losing weight every day. Soon Rosie, our Riveter, will have to have someone hold her up while she works. How about the new job? No use asking if you asked for a transfer. You didn‘t.“
“I asked yesterday,“ said Leona with dignity[, “] and today I‘m not ‘Rosie the Riveter‘ anymore. I‘m an expediter.“
“That‘s surely a swell sounding name, what is it?“
“Oh, we chase down parts for the department, hurry-up orders, and things like that.“
“Oh, I see,“ said Jessie. “You just walk around looking pretty. I see those expediters going up and down the aisle past my bench every day. I call it the Dispatcher‘s Promenade. All day long they go by -- sometimes one, but mostly in sets of two or three. Generally the couples are a girl and a man, and I‘d swear to goodness that what he says to her is nothing about the factory, but, ‘How about a date‘, or, ‘You surely look cute today‘, or even, ‘You‘ve no idea how my wife misunderstands me!‘“
“I know that type,“ Marcie broke in, “and I‘ve always thanked the Lord that though his wife misunderstood him, I never did. Those aircraft wolves on a prowl!“
“Here,“ said Leona with pride in her voice, “is
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“When did you find time to make an angel food, Leona?“ asked Marcie.
“Oh, Leona sacrificed an hour of her sleep today,“ said Jessie. “We should be duly grateful.“
“Well, we are, and while we are on the subject of food, I would like to ask if I may ask two young men at the plant to dinner some night. They keep pestering Tillie and me for an invitation. What do you think?“ questioned Marcie.
“What are those two young men like?“ asked Jessie.
“Both Hal and Art are quite handsome, medium dark, about five feet ten inches in height. One is a group leader, and the other a supervisor, and very eligible and very nice,“ said Tillie.
“Eligible did you say?“ snorted Marcie. “Who wants or cares for any man eligible or not. Men are a nuisance. Someone to wait on, a pain in the neck. Oh, of course, they are all right to take you placse you can‘t go yourself. That‘s why I‘m really asking them to dinner, so they can take Leona and me some place nice afterwards.“
“Now, there speaks a young lady of twenty-four,“ said Tillie.
“And don‘t any of you forget,“ Marcie said, concluding a lecture on her favorite [covered by finger] Faults of Men‘, “that there‘s to be no [covered by finger]
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how good a cook Leona is. I never saw a man yet who could look at a good cook without a possessive glint in his eye. He thinks to himself, ‘a good cook worth two hundred dollars a month and I can get her for board and room, a little ceremony and a few clothes.“
“Of course, we won‘t tell. If the young men mention how good the food is, you can all say, ‘Tillie cooked all this wnderful [sic] food and ook hwo cool she is.‘ I won‘t mind a bit,“ soothed Tillie.
“Well, then, O. K. I‘ll tell them they can come tomorrow night. Maybe we better not have too much good food; they might fall for you, Tillie, and that would be too bad, especially as you have one husband.“
“Well, I‘ve got Eddie,“ said Leona.
“You haven‘t got him yet; don‘t forget, he hasn‘t written for a week,“ reminded Marcie.
“Now, Marcie, you know the last he wrote he was flying a plane to Africa, and it would be two weeks or se before he could get back,“ answered Leona.
“Marcie,“ said her mother, “do let Leona alone. Some men are good and true,“ and Jessie‘s eyes filled with tears.
“Oh, Mom, please don‘t cry again. I‘ll be good,“ pleaded Marcie.
“All right, honey, let‘s all go to bed. You girls better make up the “day coach,“ for it‘s
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Tillie‘s and my turn on the bed. I surely hope some of these days we can find a house with two bedrooms.“
The girls moved the table with the two folding sides out into the living room in honor of the young men‘s visit. Jessie had brought plenty of silverware, dishes and linens from the home she left in Minnesota, so the table looked fine, it was crowded; meant for four and set for six. Hal and Art appeared promptly at the time designated and Jessie knew they were either prompt or interested young men. She eyed her only child closely, but could see no sign of love‘s first glow on Marcie‘s cheek. The young men, too, seemed to be interested only in a friendly fashion, so she breathed a sigh of relief. She didn‘t want to lose her one chick yet.
The dinner was a triumph over stamps red, white, and blue.
Jessie had said, “I‘ll bake a pie. Men all love pie.“ So after she stewed chicken and baking powder biscuits came the pie, tender crust, yellow, tart-sweet filling, covered with three inch white and oven browned meringue.
“Wonderful, wonderful,“ said both young men[.] “Do yougirls always live like this?“
“You bet your sweet life we don‘t,“ said Marcie, seeing her chance to stop the enemy before he advanced. “This is all in your honor. Most of the
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time we only have one big kettle in the middle of the table, four spoons, and a cookie for dessert.“
“Thanks for the dinner, honor and everything,“ said both Hal and Art as they moved away from the table. “Now for the Casino Gardens.“
Marcie‘s green dress showed the figure a model might envy as she stood at the door to go. Her red hair glowed as brightly as her temper could at a moment‘s notice.
Leona looked just what she was; cool, gentle, sweet, like a clear brook of water. Jessie thought, seeing them together, “That‘s just what they are -- fire and water. Marcie, the fire and Leona, the water.“
“Mom,“ said Marcie, as they were cleaning house the next day, “just look at this in the Aircraft Times that Leona brought home last night, a chance for you.
“Write on Absenteeism and win a war bond.“ “Why don‘t you try?“
“Let me see, Marcie,“ said Jessie. As she read the paper. She was already putting her theme together; she could feel the ‘writer‘s prickles,‘ as she called them, a type of goose flesh she got when she thought she had a good idea.
“I‘ll start right now,“ she said, throwing her broom down and looking for paper and a pencil.“[extra quotation mark]
“See what you did, Marcie.“ said Tillie. “You should have broken the news to her gently after
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we had the house finished.“
But Jessie didn‘t hear; she was deep in the problems of Voluntary Absence from work. SHe worked hard and fast for a few hours and then joined the other girls. “Say girls, listen. Do you suppose I‘ve made this part too strong; not all the absentees are at home, at the beach, on a trip, or a spree. There are plenty of absentees right in the factory making believe work, whether it be Mary the worker, who stands around looking at a blue print she doesn‘t know a thing about, or her group leader, Jim, and his friends, making gadgets for their girl friends from the plastic they got from somewhere in the factory.
“Do you think that‘s making it too strong Tillie?“ asked Jessie.
“No, Jessie,“ said Tillie, “you give them some more of that kind of stuff. They need it.“
“It may not get printed though. Some people can‘t stand to hear the truth about themselves,“ worried Jessie.
“Why don‘t you work in [on?] that story about the man from Washington?“ asked Marcie.
“Remember how funny and pathetic we thought that newspaper story was of the man in the shipyards in Washington? How he let his wife support him for about a year, while he worked every day and overtime at his job. He never knew he was earning money until his wife lost
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her job and they needed money for food. He told his employers he couldn‘t work for patriotism any more; they were hungry. Then it all came out and he had all that badly needed back pay to spend; he spent most of it for war bonds, they say.
“Well, I know almost a parallel for that story. About a month ago a young girl came to work. She had never worked in a factory before. Today she came to me and said, ‘I really need some money. Where does one get paid here?‘ Well, I told her every week except the first. A week‘s pay is withheld until you terminate. She said, ‘I‘ve been here a month; you know that, and I haven‘t had a single check. What shall I do?‘ I told her to go to the paymaster. No doubt her checks had been held there. She went and came back. No checks, so we contacted the office and they had no record of her work. Then we went to the group leader, supervisor and foreman. All of us knew she had been there but none of us had any proof. Finally we asked her if she didn‘t have some way to prove she had been there. She said, ‘Nothing but my daily time receipts,‘ and pulled a month‘s stack of time cards from her purse.“
Leona laughed and said, “That‘s almost as funny as the excuses they gave for not working the last holiday. One of the girls said, ‘My legs are swell,“ and all the men wanted to look and
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see if she was only bragging. One of the men said, ‘I am looking for a house to move,‘ but what he really meant was that he wanted to move, not to move houses, and even that conflicted with his wife‘s excuse, for she said, ‘I have a fever‘. When the man found out that their excuses refused to concide, he contacted the group leader, supervisor, and finally the office. There the records had to be changed so that the man and wife could both be having a fever, or moving a house at the same time.
“But the excuses the men on the hydro gave showed team work. They were all alike. They said the Union had told them to take a day off, which as it wasn‘t true, got them all in bad with the Union. The Union cooperates to the fullest extent with production so that it will not be lack of needed workers that will cause the war to linger on.“
‘Ah! Good jokes,“ said Jessie. “I heard one today and they say it‘s true.“
“So are the ones we told true, Mom,“ said Marcie. “Go ahead with yours.“
“Well,“ began Jessie, “someone told me today out at the canteen that a boy holding his sides laughing said to a mean near by, ‘Did you ever see such a funny looking guy as that one over there?‘ The second man looked and said coldly, ‘that is my daughter.‘ The boy was embarrased [sic] and
|Chapter 13 - p 113|
tried to help the situation by saying, ‘Oh, I didn‘t mean that one; I meant that a big fat old guy over there.‘ ‘That‘s my wife,‘ said the man.‘“
“I like that,“ said Tillie, and it‘s surely true that you can hardly tell a woman from a man at the factory. Same kind of cap, hair-do, shoes, clothes, and lunch bucket.“
“I‘ll bet it wasn‘t the same king of lunch kit I saw today,“ broke in Leona. “It was a plastic affair, so clean looking, and you could see the red vacuum bottle fastened in the top, the spoon and fork, sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper, a salad, a big piece of chocolate cake, and a peach.“
“Oh, for goodness sake, Leona. I can just see our one sandwich and an apple hobnobbing with the red vacuum bottle in that aristocrat of a lunch kit.“
“Yes, Mom, but think of the advantage of not having to open the lunch kit for the guards‘ inspection. With one like that you can just hold it up and the guard can see with half an eye that you haven‘t any of the company‘s tools, nor blue prints. They can even see what you left over from lunch,“ answered Leona.
“I never have anything to show,“ said Jessie. “I always throw away my lunch kit.[“]
“Yes“ said Tillie. ‘You can do that with paper sacks like we take. It surely is a continual snap-
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snap, snap-snap of hinges as the people go through the gates, starting home. Sometimes someone opens his lunch kit in such a hurry that the vacuum bottle falls out and breaks, or an apple or orange rolls down the street.“
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§14 - Easter Sunday -- Earl Carroll‘s
|Chapter 14 - p 115|
“We could hardly get Tillie back from Ferndale today,“ laughed Marcie, “she just wanted to sit on a bench the rest of the day.“
“It certainly was peaceful and beautiful out there,“ said Tillie, “shade, coolness, waterfalls, flowers, ferns, it was a perfect setting.“
“Sure Tillie,“ remarked Marcie, “a perfect setting for a perfect nap. I saw your eyes close while you sat there on that bench.“
“I always feel sleepy when I am perfectly comfortable, that comes when one lets down the tensions in this defense work.“
“Your [sic] right Tillie,“ said Jessie, “do you know what I think we should do tomorrow girls?“
“That‘s Easter Sunday Mom, what do you think we should do,“ inquired Leona.
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“Go to the Sunrise Service at the Hollywood Bowl.“
“Oh, Mom, what an ideal thought,“ approved Marcie, “I‘d love that wouldn‘t you Leona?“ I suppose you have been there haven‘t you Tillie?“
“Yes,“ answered Tillie, “a couple of times, but it is always a glorious experience.“
That night the girls only slept two hours before their four thumbs were up. Mostly they were lucky and they needed luck this morning, for it was still dark as they started with less than an hourto make the bowl. Today was no unlucky exception, after they had transferred to the third car, the boy who was driving took them to the foot of the bowl. The girls had been there once before when the bowl was empty. Marcie had encouraged then stormed to make her mother climb to the very top of the bowl with its seats in tiers on the hillside. This time Jessie flatly refused to go over half way, it wasn‘t any use going up any farther anyway as every seat was filled. The four girls sat down, one on each tier by the benches to let the people pass up or down. They sat on the hillside and in the hollow between two hills was the stage. The stage settings was nature‘s own. Trees and flowers and the opposite hill beyond. Humphrey Bogart read, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.“
Jessie said, “although I have sung, and heard[finger covers up the rest]
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this song sung all my life, the words mean something to me today, that they never meant before. I guess I‘ve always been too busy with the tune to pay much attention to the words.“
People all around them mentioned this movie star or that as taking part. One said, ‘Irene Dunne‘ is singing,‘ the girls didn‘t know if it was or not, she was too far way [sic] for them to recognize her.
The choir of children and women on the right side of the stage formed a big black cross. Each had on a black rode. Just as the sun arose over the hill, the moment came to announce Christ‘s resurrection. “Allelulia!“ sang the choir, and as one person discarded the black gowns and stood there a beautiful white cross. Jessie felt her ‘writer‘s prickle‘ and her fingers itch for a pencil. The contribution was taken in glass jars with slots in the top of htem. It must have been enormous.
“They need it too, to keep up the Rose Bowl for it must cost a tremendous sum,“ said Jessie.
“Say Mom,“ asked Leona, “do you think it would be wrong to go to some entertainment this evening?“
“Of course not Leona, there‘s never anything wrong with clean entertainment. It‘s how one behaves himself there that matters. Where would you like to go?“
“Oh, a movie or a show,“ replied Leona.
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“Let‘s go to Earl Carrolls, I‘ve heard of him for a long time and I‘d like to see the beauties,“ said Marcie.
After a huddle in which they discussed the pros and cons, Earl Carroll‘s won and Tillie said, “We had better reserve a table, then go to a movie until time for the stage show and dinner.“
They had a table close up the stage reserved for the four of them at Earl Carroll‘s. Then the parade of sixty beautiful girls began.
“They really are beautiful,“ said Marcie, “and what figures!“
“Not one bit better figure than yours, and none more beautiful than Leona either,“ said Jessie.
“Thanks Mom, I know, you mean that. i only hope you‘re not prejudiced,“ laughed Leona.
“Glitter! Dazzle! Glow like a fiery opal that‘s what I remember about this show,“ said Tillie as they left the big world-famous Earl Carroll‘s with the names of celebrated people on the stage and off, written one in each tile block on the outside of the building.
|Chapter 14 - p|
§15 - Canteens -- Blood Donors
|Chapter 15 - p 119|
“This food makes me think of the canteen,“ said Marcie, “as she took a second helping of scalloped potatoes, baked with ham and cheese.“
“It does,“ sniffed Leona, “is it that bad?“
“I don‘t mean it‘s bad,“ said Marcie, “I only enjoy the contrast between eating at the canteen and eating at home. At work, we have a half-hour for eating, we walk nearly a quarter of a mile to get thereand get in behind a long line of hungry people, waiting to be fed. Did you ever notice how like people are to animals, when they are hungry? They push, shove and walk on each other like pigs in a trough! Not much politeness there, no one has time to be polite. I sometimes think of what Emily Post would say as I pick my bowl of soup up in both hands and drink
|Chapter 15 - p 120|
it. Anyway I‘ll bet she‘s never tried taking a wooden spoon about three inches long and flat as a board, dipping it in her thin soup, always away from herself and finishing in the ten minutes, before the whistle blows, which would be all the time she had left after she received it.“
“I‘ll never go on a picnic again as long as I live,“ said Tillie, “our lunch time is a picnic every day, a regular old home week, most of the time when I get there the pans are all scratched dry, coffee is cold, no ice cream, that‘s why I like to take my sandwich along now, just in case.“
“Over at my Canteen,“ said Jessie, “we have entertainment.“
“Tillie and I have entertainment too mostly Popeye, Superman or travel pictures,“ what do you have at your canteen, Mom?“ asked Marcie.
“Well Marcie,“ Jessie answered, “we have all kinds, professional entertainers, and people from the plant, movies, sometimes Popeye, human interest subjects, even a popular movie in installments. There have been several that have impressed me more than others, one is a writer of songs, I envy him I‘ve always wanted to write a song.“
“You have, Mom,“ put in Leona.
“Oh yes, I know but, I mean a song that is published and everybody sings, like this man‘s “When You‘re Smiling,“ or “On the Sunny Side
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of the Street.“ I even like “Mama‘s Making Bombers.“ I remember once the Master of Ceremonies or what he is called came out and announced we would sing several songs. That was a fizzle, we couldn‘t eat and sing at the same time. So as we were hungry, we left the singing to him. I haven‘t been out there when they tried again. That makes me think of applause. I wish they understood what martyrs we are when we take our hands off our sandwiches long enough to clap twice, but it is easier than singing with your mouth full.
“There is one young man, a lead man in a department, that pleases us all very much he sings and recites Western variety, and what he says is usually funny, and we like to laugh. We had a cowboy orchestra the other day, they gave us “San Antonio Rose“ in quite a Bob Will‘s manner. Some of the girl singers who try the blues make a lovely picture, but an awful noise.“
“That‘s because you don‘t like blues singing isn‘t it, Mom?“ asked Leona.
“I don‘t like blues that‘s true but I still can tell good singing when I hear it, blues or not.“
“The movies of Popeye and short subjects are the best for most of us, because we come in the middle of the show and leave before it‘s over if we want to get back on time. I never got the installment movies untangled in my mind before
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the end came. Two other bench comrades and I go out to lunch together. I always lag behind in the riveting section in spite of the noise it‘s so fascinating I think everytime I go by what big jobs these people are doing. They surely earn their pay.“
“Yes Mom, they do and so do we. We are all trying our very best to help our boys who are across; that is why I am going to B----- tomorrow to give a pint of blood to the Red Cross,“ said Leona.
“So am I,“ stated Jessie.
“Mom, you‘re not either,“ objected Marcie, “you‘re not strong enough.“
“Say my child, I‘m a lot healthier than you are. You can‘t go, you don‘t weigh enough,“ answered Jessie.
“Mom, you let some younger people go. There will be plenty without you,“ persisted Marcie.
“Are you trying to tell me I‘m old at forty? I work harder every day than either you or Leona, since she is an expediter, and I do more work here too,“ bragged Jessie.
“Sure Mom, you‘re a super-duper, and you can go along with me. I like company,“ said Leona, “you too, Millie, of [sic] you want to go.“
“I‘d like to, but I gave just before I moved in with you girls, so I have to wait a while yet.“
Neither of the girls had ever given any blood
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nor bennear a blood bank center, so it was new to them. They carefully followed the rules printed on their cards. Drink only fruit juices before. They took Jessie first so she was the first one through and as she got off the bed and entered the resting room, she felt fine. “Just as good as usual,“ she told herself. “What a bunch of sissies,“ she thought, seeing several lying on cots to recover themselves before going home.
The ladies in uniform gave her a cup of coffee, glass of orange juice and a roll. She ate part of the roll, but didn‘t feel hungry. “I wonder why Leona doesn‘t come,“ she thought, “I wish she would hurry up. We never have enough time. Gee, I feel kind of faint. Maybe if I bend over a little, I‘ll feel better.“ The observing ladies took Jessie in hand and fixed her on a cot.
Leona expected to see Jessie ready to go home, when she came in, but Jessie had to take her time. She wasn‘t as young as Leona was, she said. The two visited as they waited.
“Just look Mom, most of the people here are women your age or older,“ said Leona.
“I guess the women my age mostly have sons in the service and as they gave them life once, now they give again to help either their son, or some else‘s, keep it,“ answered Jessie.
Anyway I think it is a shame that more of the younger people don‘t donate blood. I heard they
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expected five hundred from our plant today and so few came it will take them all week to make up the quota.“
Jessie said, “the sign up there reads not under eighteen nor over sixty and if that man is not over sixty then his sixtieth birthday must be tomorrow. He shouldn‘t really be here either. He got sick, and they had to give his blood back. Someone said he had worked a shift at the plant and does overtime work elsewhere.“
“It‘s wonderfully patriotic, but I think if he, at his age does two jobs, it‘s enough without giving blood that he can‘t afford,“ said Leona, “I mean to tell them at work tomorrow that they should be ashamed not giving blood when they are young and strong. Do you think you can go now, Mom?“
“I‘m sure I can Leona,“ said Jessie “where‘s the pin they gave me?“
Leona looked around and found it on the floor beside Jessie.
“No bus in sight, as usual,‘ remarked Leona, “and you should be home lying down. I‘m going to try my luck,“ and her thumb was up in the air.
The man who stopped was only going a few blocks but when he heard that Jessie and Leona had been to the Red Cross, he said, “I can‘t give any blood, I‘m not able, but I can take home a couple of girls who can do it,“ and did.
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§16 - House Hunting
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“I hope this isn‘t too good to be true,“ said Marcie, as the four girls stood on the porch of a neat white house in B-----.
Leona rang the bell and asked, “May we see the house, please?“
The landlady who answered the bell eyed the four women and said, “Does your husband work at X-----?“
“No, we haven‘t husbands,“ answered Jessie.
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“So you are just four women alone; no men-folks. Well, my husband and I (and the way she underlined husband was an insult to the unmarried woman) have decided that we won‘t rent to women without a husband.“
“I‘ve got a husband,“ said Tillie helpfully.
“You have? Why didn‘t you say so in the beginning? You and he can have the bigger bedroom.“
“Oh, he isn‘t here now,“ said Tillie.
“He isn‘t? When will he be? Where is he?“
“Well, I‘m not just sure when he will be home, after the war probably. He is in the Air Corps now.“
“For goodness sake! Standing here taking up my time for nothin‘. Well, no husband, no house.“
“I have heard that landladies or landlords have decided no pets allowed, no children, no parties. but this is the first time I ever heard of one that decided your marital status,“ said Marcie. “There goes our home, our home sweet home. No husband, no house. That‘s that. Nothing but an old tucked up apartment, but better than we had at Las Rositos. Remember how damp that place always was? Sometimes I wondered if it was from the bathroom, the atmosphere, or Mom‘s tears.
“Now there we had a landlady what was a landlady! She surely kept our noses clean, didn‘t she? Morning she awakened us by the music of her lawn mower. Then she sprayed our flow-
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ers, grass and sides of the house. It dawns on me, that may have been the reason for the dampness. She even washed our windows. I know she enjoyed that until we pulled the shades. She counted all the silverware, (we had a set for four from the dime store), the dishes and furniture before we left. I didn‘t think we looked like the sort of magicians who could tuck an electric stove away in our suitcases. At that she got the better of us because Mom forgot her glass pitcher with the four legs she bought in Fergus Falls.“
“Let‘s hurry home and don what the well dressed worker wears while she makes bombers. We have only about forty minutes to get home, dress and go to work. Of course, that‘s more time than we have when we go shopping, but none too much,“ said Tillie, setting a fast pace to the bus stop.
“I‘ll bet Don will be sitting by the road waiting for us today,“ said Jessie.
“Yes, and I love the arguments we will hear between Marcie and him,“ said Leona.
The four girls were sitting in the yard one day waiting for their ride, when a blue-eyed, blonde young man came by.
“Look Mom, that‘s Marcie‘s new boy friend,“ said Leona.
“Is that so?“ said Jessie with interest. When did she meet him?“
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“Oh don‘t you remember, he‘s our neighbor and brings us and our groceries home from R----- a couple times a week.“
“Yes, I knew someone brought you girls home but I didn‘t pay much attention to him.“
“Well you better take heed now then he‘s liable to be your son-in-law. That is if he gets up nerve enough to ask,“ teased Leona looking at Marcie.
“You needn‘t worry Mom, I‘m not smiten, I‘m just a calculating girl. He‘s going to take us all to a show tonight,“ said Marcie.
“All? You mean you and Leona don‘t you? No young man wants a car full of relatives along.“
“I told him when he asked me to go, I couldn‘t go without you, and he said he‘d be glad to take us all.“
“He must be a very nice young man,“ said Jessie, scanning her daughter‘s face for an interested sign.
When Norman took them all to the show that evening she liked him. A shy, quiet young man with seemingly no bad habits who listened to Marcie tell the world in general and all those she disliked, directly what she thought. He seemed to like to listen.
One night he had news of big interest to the girls, “There‘s a house in R----- for rent. Would you girls like to go look at it?“
Of course they did, so the next day Norman
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took them to R-----. A man set on the porch with his feet on the railing.
“May we look at the house?“ asked Marcie.
“You are looking at it,“ said the man.
“I mean the inside,“ said Marcie.
“Well the inside looks about like the outside does, that‘s why I‘m moving,“ he said.
“I think the outside looks pretty good,“ said Tillie.
“Well ring the bell then, they will show it to you, but I‘m telling you it has to be lived in to be appreciated, that‘s why I‘m moving,“ he added again ominously.
A solemn looking man answered the bell.
“May we see the house please,“ asked Marcie.
“Sure Miss, sure. It‘s five rooms and well furnished too. You knew it was furnished didn‘t you?“
“Yes, of course that‘s why we wanted it. We have no furniture here; we‘re from Minnesota.“
“You don‘t say,“ he said, “I don‘t suppose you know my boy, name is Walker. He lives in Minneapolis.“
“No,“ said Marcie, “I lived about a hundred and fifty miles north of there.“
“Oh, up in the fishing country, my boy is going to take us up there when we get there. That‘s why we are renting our house to go there and see if we want to stay. Have you ever been
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“Yes, many times,“ said Marcie, “and there are so many lakes and all well stocked with fish, but now we‘d like to see the house please.“
“You haven‘t any pets have you?“ the man asked.
“No,“ Marcie answered shortly, “No pets.“
“No chilren either, I take it,“ and looked behind the girls to see if any little people were hiding there.
“No children, either,“ repeated Marcie.
“Well maybe you‘ll do, your husband can fix up the place a bit, I hope he‘s handy with carpenter tools as the closet door needs fixing, and the cupboard doors are off. The bath tub doesn‘t work just right either, but no doubt he‘ll be able to fix it in a jiffy.“
“No doubt he would but he is not my husband he‘s just a friend.“
“Now that‘s too bad,“ sympathized the man.
“Yes, isn‘t it?“ said Marcie sarcastically, “Four girls aren‘t much for fixing things even if we do men‘s work at the aircraft factories.“
Jessie spoke to Tillie in an undertone, “let‘s back out of this mess, that man on the porch over-estimated when he said the inside was as good as the outside. The outside is too good for this interior.“
The man standing in the center of the living
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room rug was talking on and on, “as you see, everything is in good condition and there‘s even a space out back for a victory garden.“
“That would be fine,“ commented Marcie, “only war workers haven‘t much time for gardens; it‘s kind of dark in here, isn‘t it?“
“Well maybe a mite, but I intend to paint the whole house inside soon, that will lighten it up considerably.“
“No doubt it would,“ agreed Marcie. “We really must go now, we will talk it over and let you know within an hour, if we decide to take it. Goodbye.“
The four girls and Norman hurried out to his car at the curb.
“Marcie, why didn‘t you ask the rent?“ inquired TIllie.
“For that old dump, I didn‘t care what it rented for. I just knew we didn‘t want it, or did you?“
“That dark place would make me feel bluee all the time,“ said Jessie.
“See there, I told you girls, Mom would have been in tears all the time instead of half the time. Now you‘ll appreciate my good sense.“
“I think what he needs in that house isn‘t renters, it‘s carpenters, painters, and plumbers,“ commented Tillie.
“It surely was awful, the worst house we‘ve seen so far and that‘s saying something. This
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is the twenty-third, isn‘t it girls?“ asked Leona.
“No, it‘s the twenty fourth,“ said Jessie. “I‘ve kept count.“
“You girls, surely do have a time house hunting don‘t you?“ asked Norman.
“Yes, and so does nearly everyone else who doesn‘t own a house,“ said Marcie. “Just look at that sign board, about twenty five feet long and covered with descriptions of houses, across each one the agent has written a big SOLD and in that little space he has left, he has no rentals, guess we may as well give up.“
“No,“ objected Tillie, “we must have a house, let‘s take all day tomorrow and look all over B-----.“
“Yes, let‘s do that then if we can‘t find anything, we‘ll give up,“ said Leona.
“Give up? I‘ll never give up asking people if that does any good,“ said Marcie, [“]but I‘m through chasing around looking, after tomorrow.“
“How would you girls like to go up to Pop‘s Willow Lake, day after tomorrow?“ asked Norman. “May I bring my pal Loyd Larson along? “You‘d like Loyd.“
“No doubt we‘ll need relaxation after house hunting,“ said Leona, “and we will enjoy meeting your chum.“
“Tillie and I have ironing to do that day; it‘s piled up mountain high,“ said Jessie.
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“I‘ll do mine when I get time,“ said Marcie.
“That‘s a by-word with us now, we are always going to do things when we get time and that time never comes. Here we are home again. Thanks so much Norman for taking us to see the house,“ said Tillie.
“See you boys Thursday then,“ said Marcie as Norman drove away.
“It‘s house hunting day today,“ yawned TIllie sleepily, as the four girls were dressing for the day.
“Yes, and I surely hope that we find out at last,“ said Jessie. “Where is our list?“
“Here it is, Mom,“ answered Marcie, “and it has seven houses on it.“
“All I ask is one out of seven, but maybe that is even asking too much,“ said Leona.
“Let‘s not even bother making any breakfast we can get a cup of coffee down town. That way maybe we can get there first,“ suggested Marcie.
“That‘s a good idea and as we are all ready let‘s run, there‘s a bus due now any minute,“ said Jessie.
“Fifteen minutes later the four girls walked up the pavement to a good looking Spanish type house. Wouldn‘t it be wonderful, girls, if we could get this house?“ asked Leona. “It looks good to me.“
“Yes, it certainly does, and so does that walnut
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tree, and I believe there‘s an apricot tree in the back yard too,“ pointed out Tillie.
“Probably higher rent than we can pay,“ Jessie was practical.
“We‘ll soon know,“ and Marcie put a finger on the bell which responded loudly inside.
The door swung open in a hurry and a little old lady, with a card in her hand stood there.
“May we look at the house?“ began Jessie.
The little old lady turned the card around for them to read.
“No vacancy,“ read Leona aloud.
“Don‘t tell me you‘ve rented the house already,“ pleaded Marcie.
“Yes, just rented it a few minutes ago; that‘s why I haven‘t had time to put up this sign yet,“ the old lady replied.
“And we need a house so badly,“ mourned Leona.
“I‘m sorry dearie,“ said the old lady, and she really did look sorry. “I would have liked to have you nice girls in my house while I am away visiting my daughter in Chicago.“
“Thank you,“ said Jessie, “and good-by.“
“Say,“ broke in Marcie, “would you mind telling us how much you rented it for?‘
“Not at all dearier, I rented it for sixty dollars a month, five rooms all furnished, as you can see,“ and she opened the door wider and show-
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ed a living room that was as large as the girls‘ whole apartment, and comfortable looking furniture.
The girls walked away dejectedly as Tillie said, “That wonderful house and we were too late.“
“Yes, and the walnut and apricot tree,“ added Marcie, “just think of picking your own walnuts, and oh, to see an apricot tree in bloom in our own yard.“
“Certainly would be lovely,“ agreed Jessie, “but maybe sixty dollars would have been a little high for us.“
“Mom, you old sour grapes,“ said Leona, “you know you would have been the first one to shout, “we‘ll take it, if it hasn‘t been rented.“
“Yes, I guess I would at that but now let‘s just forget this house and try the next. Let‘s see, as she consulted the house list, there is another in the in the next block.“
“Well there‘s no fruit trees here I see,“ said Marcie, “But it still looks good. We have to call next door to see the owner.“
“Are you Mr. Nathan?“ asked Tillie, as a solemn faced man opened the door. “Yes, Ma‘am,“ answered the man, “what can I do for you?“
“We want to look at the house you have for rent if you please,“ said Jessie.
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“I‘m awfully busy just now. I‘m about to eat my dinner, can‘t you come back later on?“ he asked.
“I‘m sorry,“ said Leona, “but we really haven‘t much time, couldn‘t you show it to us now please?“
“First off, I‘d like to know what your religion is?“ The girls looked at each other in consternation.
“Well,“ began Jessie doubtfully, “we all belong to different churches, of course Marcie and I are both Episcopal, but Tillie is a Presbytarian and Leona a Christian Scientist. Does it really make any difference what churches we belong to?“
“Sure does Ma‘am, the last folks we rented to kept Saturday. On Sunday the man either mowed the lawn or did carpenter work and pounded and banged, and the woman hung out big lines of clothes. That reminds me Ma‘am, our washing machine is broke down but we are getting it fixed up.“
The girls exchanged an ‘I wonder if we should look‘, but Leona remembering no hot water said, “may we see it please?“
So they looked over five rooms of mediocre furniture and paused at the bed in the larger bedroom. Jessie put an exploring hand on the mattress and found a resistance that was firm
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to say the least.
“No inner springs on these beds,“ whispered Leona in Jessie‘s ear. “They are almost as bad as our “day coach.“
“Yes,“ Jessie whispered bad.
“How much is the rent,“ she asked.
“Sixty-five dollars, Ma‘am.“
“Well,“ said Jessie, “we hardly can afford that much. I guess we will just have to leave this for richer people; but thanks for showing us around.“
“You‘re welcome Ma‘am, there‘s no lack of renters.“
“Yes, we surely know that,“ agreed Tillie, “Goodby.“
“Mom, you surely retreated gracefully from that situation,“ admired Marcie, “hard beds, a washing machine that is in the hands of an over-burdened mechanic, and sixty-five dollars a month. Phew!“
“On to the next and the next and the next,“ sang Tillie, as the girls walked away.
“The next,“ Marcie consulted the list, “is a wonder, if what this ad says it true.“
“You know my feet are beginning to burn with all this pavement pounding,“ complained Tillie.
“Cease your wailing, you haven‘t seen nothin‘ yet,“ commanded Leona, “we will have to walk a good bit farther unless this is the one
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“Here we go again, who wants to ask the questions this time?“ asked Jessie.
“I will,“ said Tillie, “and here it comes.“
“Yes?“ questioned the woman who stood in the doorway.
“We‘d like to look over the house please,“ said Tillie.
“Well, all right,“ answered the woman, “but it‘s in kind of a mess, the folks just moved out yesterday so it‘s clean up after them now. I never saw such a place, dirtiest people and the most party throwing you ever heard about. You don‘t give wild parties do you?“ She eyed the girls suspiciously.
“No, indeed we don‘t,“ said Tillie, “we never have time for one reason, too busy working.
“Well, these last people worked too,“ said the woman ungraciously, “but that didn‘t prevent them having parties. Just look at that table; the varnish marred by cigarettes until I suppose it will always be scarred. Do you smoke?“ she broke off to ask.
“No,“ said Tillie hurriedly.
“I don‘t either,“ said Jessie.
Marcie and Leona said nothing.
“The two young ladies do smoke I see, well I never did approve of women smoking, but of course it‘s their own business until they burn
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up my beds as the people before these tenants did. I guess the man had been out somewhere drinking. He must have fallen asleep with a lit cigarette because before we knew what was what, the fire department was here in the yard. Of course it only burned the mattress bad, and the bed clothes and filled the house with smoke. I don‘t approve of smoking, she added and I sorta promised the house anyway to a nice quiet couple who are both going to college.“
“Thank you,“ said Tillie, and the girls left as quickly as they could.
“See, I told you what smoking does to you,“ said Jessie, “not only destroys your lungs and heart, but now it even takes a home away from us.“
“I don‘t care,“ said Marcie, “I didn‘t like her old house anyway. Nosey old person.“
“Who is ‘sour grapes‘ now?“ asked Jessie.
“This one sounds better anyway,“ Leona said as she consulted the list again.
“Sure, and it‘s your turn too,“ said Tillie, “ see what you can do at this house it‘s pretty good looking too, nice lawn, and pepper trees. But the rooms can‘t be very large if it isn‘t larger than it looks outside.“
“It looks kind of empty,“ said Jessie, “and for goodness sake look through that window, no
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furniture. Shall we ask to see it?“
“Yes, let‘s look it over, maybe we can buy some furniture. We could pay so much a week and have what we want.“
“Sure all but a washing machine, people at the plant are all looking for washing machines,“ said Jessie.
“Well, we could send our washing out, or Mom could send for our washing machine back home,“ suggested Marcie.
“I‘m sorry now we sold all our furniture when Sam went away to war,“ said Tillie.
Leona rang the bell and a child answered.
“Mother said to come in she supposed you want to see the house.“
“Yes, please,“ said Leona, as they entered.
Mother was in the kitchen washing the wood work. She put down the cloth and came right to the point. “How do you like it?“
“Well,“ said Leona, “we do like the house but we haven‘t any furniture and it‘s hard to buy some of the things we would need. How much is the rent?“
“Forty dollars in advance, I‘m sorry you have no furniture. That is bad.“
“Yes, bad for us no doubt,“ answered Tillie.
“Let‘s go down town and see if we can get what we want then if we can phone you, we will take it,“ said Marcie, as they left.
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“This house hunting is lots worse than working,“ said Tillie, “my poor feet, here comes a taxi let‘s stop it and go to see the next and then let‘s have him take us home.“
The taxi driver was not a “him.“ It was a girl in a neat blue uniform, who drove them to a pretentious looking house about six blocks from main street.
“Leona, you can take this one, too. I had mine yesterday remember?“
“We certainly do,“ they all laughed.
“Pretty nice from the outside,“ commented Tillie, “do your stuff, Leona, tell them we attend their church, we don‘t chew tobacco, stay out nights, that we hardly live, in fact, we only sleep and work.“
The woman who came to the door was a born good neighbor.
“Come right in,“ she invited, “I have some jam on the stove that‘s just about ready to put in glasses. She led the way to the kitchen.
“I live down the street a way and Mrs. Ashton, she was the lady who just moved out, gave me a lot of apricots she didn‘t want to move, so I thought I‘d just prepare it here as I had to be here anyway. Have some chairs, ladies?“
“Thank you,“ they said politely as they all sat down and waited for an opportunity to break in.
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“Have you ever made apricot jam?“ she asked Leona.
“No I haven‘t,“ said Leona, “I have made jelly a few times.“
“Yes, jelly is nice too, but it‘s harder to get just right, besides I think a person should use all the fruit not just the juice, don‘t you?“
Leona murmures, “Yes,“ politely and the other three squirmed in their chairs and scowled meaningly at Leona.
“About the house,“ she began, “may we see the rest of it?“
“Of course honey, I‘ll be tickled to death to show it to you, just a minute while I get the paraffin ready. Did you ever make grape jelly? I made forty-two glasses last fall. It jelled perfectly, too.“
“That was nice,“ said Leona, “may we---?“
“Just a second, I will pour this jam into the glasses and I‘ll take you around. Isn‘t it beautiful? Just right, too, you said you never made any apricot jam, didn‘t you? Well, I‘ll bet a pretty girl like you will be making some in her own kitchen one of these days, so I‘ll tell you how. You wash and stone the fruit, add a little water so the fruit won‘t stick to the kettle, then stew slowly until cooked thoroughly, measure the fruit and add sugar cup for cup. Some people don‘t use so much sugar, but I think more
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sugar makes a better jam, don‘t you?“
Jessie coughed violently and the lady said, “I‘ll bet you people are all hot and tired, you look so warm I‘ll get you each a glass of water.“
“The taxi, Leona, the taxi, we will own it pretty soon if you don‘t hurry her up,“ whisped Marcie behind the lady‘s back.
“Here you are, good and cold the water is, always cold here, Mrs. Stower,“ she said as she handed Jessie a glass.
“My name is not Stower, it‘s Northup,“ protested Jessie.
“It isn‘t? Well now, I just thought you were the lady who rented this house,“ “Rented this house,“ they all cried together, “do you mean it‘s rented?“
“Why yes, the agent just phoned and said the tenants were coming right out to see it. That ust be the Stowers now,“ she said as the door bell rang.
The girls passed the lucky new tenants on the doorsteps as they left.
“Well, anyway Leona knows now how to make apricot jam if it did cost a five dollar bill in taxi far, not to mention the time we spent there,“ said Marcie. “I hope Eddie appreciates the apricot jam you make for him some day.“
We may as well go home, I‘m sick to death with house hunting, and as the taxi waits we
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may as well have it take us home. What do you care for a little five dollar bill (or more likely) we can earn it back tomorrow.“
Jessie and Tillie were in the kitchen Thursday when a shiny, tan convertible drove up. It was Norman and his pal. The two boys came to the door. When they saw the tall young man, who had to bend his head to come through the door, they agreed that Leona wouldn‘t be too tall this time.
“Why,“ said Tillie, “he is practically a young giant, six foot, four, or I don‘t know my measuring tables.“
“Yes, and handsome, too, listen to him talk. I guess that‘s why Norman likes him. Loyd talks and Norman listens, no doubt Loyd enjoys that too. It‘s easy to see who is the leader of those two. I wonder if he and Marcie won‘t clash?“
“They probably will, Jessie,“ said Tillie, “but I think if this young man is as good as he looks, Eddie should hurry home from Africa or where ever he is.“
“Yes, and Marcie, too, maybe she likes Norman better than she says she does,“ worried Jessie.
But the girls need not have worried. Two swimming dates, several shows, a dinner and dancing date, and the interest on both sides dwindled and died.
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Tillie said, “I‘ll bet Marcie and Loyd couldn‘t stand each other, both wanted to lead Norman around, and I guess Marcie didn‘t want to bother fighting with Loyd for the privilege.“
“That‘s what I think too,“ agreed Jessie.
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§17 - A Disappointment
|Chapter 17 - p 146|
Jessie was writing letters to the folks back home. “I told them we live in an auto court,“ do you think I should explain that?“ she asked.
“Well, perhaps you could say it‘s just a number of small houses set side by side, with a yard in the middle or thereabout,“ said Marcie.
“I never saw a motel court before I came to California,“ said Jessie, “of course back home they have tourist camps which are nearly the same as these motor inn courts.“
“Yes,“ agreed Marcie, “only here people live in them from one year‘s end to another.“
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“Of course if you get a solicitous landlady, say one who reads your postcards, uses her pass key while you are away, to see what kind of a housekeeper you are, then you move. This time you may find another kind, one who brings your telephone messages any time of the day or night, lends you her electric iron, listens to your tales of woe. Then you may be satisfied and stay, or you may have become like a gypsy by this time and some distant apartment beckons. Oh, to find a furnished castle at the foot of the rainbow for about fifty dollars a month,“ said Leona.
“Let‘s talk of something pleasant, shall we say work, for instance?“ said Tillie.
“Work,“ exclaimed Marcie, “what‘s pleasant about work? I think it‘s an awful bother always interfering when I want to play.“
“I guess that‘s what our supervisor thought yesterday,“ said Jessie. “There is a man who comes in for the next shift, he must work at our bench for he always comes there. He likes to talk, and does, too.“
Today the supervisor said, “Would you just as soon not bother these women?“ We laughed when he said, “Heck, I‘m not bothering them, I never touched them!“
“But what bothers us most at work is not having a stool to sit down on when we have work that we can do as well sitting down. There‘s
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many a quarrel over who found the stool first.“
“Is that the way the ladies in your department act?“ asked Tillie.
“They surely do,“ said Jessie, “and I‘ll bet you would too if you thought you might have to stand up all day long.‘
“Well, maybe I would at that. Say, Jessie, have you seen the Aircraft Times?“
“No, I haven‘t, Tillie, where is it?“
“I‘ll get it,“ said Tillie, “the names of the bond winners for the letters on absenteeism should be in it.“
“Yes they are,“ said Jessie, as she scanned the names, “but mine is not one. There is only one consoling item here, it says that two people‘s letters were not considered because they were not constructive, one was brilliantly written. I can only hope that one was mine.“
“Don‘t feel badly, mom,“ consoled Marcie, “you know you do win sometimes.“
“I can‘t say I don‘t feel badly because I do,“ said Jessie, her eyes full of tears, “but you know although I hoped all the time, I didn‘t expect to win much. Today the group leader told us to clean our benches up early, that we were having company, and I got to dreaming. I thought, I‘ll bet I won that first prize and they are coming out to present it, maybe take pictures of me. I felt so happy and proud of myself. Just as I was
|Chapter 17 - p 149|
at the peak of my big dream our sweeper banged a “trash“ barrel right under my nose, I awoke and tossed my dreams into it.“
“Don‘t throw away all your dreams, Mom,“ said Marcie, “dreams do come true sometimes.“
“Yes,“ said Jessie, “I guess they do, and I can say that there has never been anything that I wanted badly that I didn‘t get, only I almost always got it after I got over wanting it, and had my heart set on something else.“
“That‘s human nature cropping out,“ said Tillie. “We all want what someone else has. The apple in someone else‘s hand looks bigger; we can‘t see the worm inside.“
“Speaking of apples makes me think of eating,“ said Jessie, “how would you girls like some coffee?“
“I think you need it worse than we do. You and Tillie rest and Leona and I will get lunch.“
The coffee was strong and hot just as Jessie liked it. As the girls ate left over from the ice box, Jessie said, “tomorrow is rent day, it‘s a good thing that today was pay day, after I put my ten dollars in the household budget I‘ll have twenty-three over to spend. I guess I‘ll put fifteen in the bank on the mortgage. That will make three hundred and twenty-five dollars I‘ve saved. It won‘t be long now before I can pay it off.“
“Yes, Mom,“ said Leona, “but you‘ll have
|Chapter 17 - p 150|
something left after you get it paid up, here I am still paying on a fur coat that someone else is wearing.“
“It surely burns me up the way that coat disappeared from that hook in the Stoney Broke Inn, in the three minutes we spent in the washroom,“ said Marcie.
“Not to mention the thirty dollars she had in the pocket,“ said Jessie.
“Why, how awful, I didn‘t know you lost money, too,“ sympathized Tillie.
“Yes I did. I felt like I had lost everything I had. That was when we first got here, and money meant a lot just then. I guess I‘ll be paying on that fur coat for a couple of years yet. It was a beautiful coat. I had never had a fur coat before, in fact fifteen or twenty dollars was the limit before this, and after this, too, until I get this one paid for.“
“Let‘s forget it. The coat might turn up yet,“ said Jessie, “and it only makes us miserable to think of it. Let‘s go to bed, it is marketing day tomorrow, remember?“
|Chapter 17 - p|
§18 - Marketing According to Stamp Limitations
|Chapter 18 - p 151|
The girls‘ marketing system was, taken as a whole, quite successful. The day after pay day, they took their household money to a market and spent all but a few pennies, which would have to stretch over whatever they had forgotten, during the next week.
To do them justice, however, they seldom forgot anything. Their system was immense. At first they made out long grocery lists which they invariably forgot to take along.
They divided the marketing into four sections. They each took a turn at buying in each division. First section, red stamps, meat and fats. Second section, blue stamps, canned foods. Third sec-
|Chapter 18 - p 152|
tion, vegetables and fruits. Fourth section, sugar, breads, desserts, soap and packaged goods.
The four girls each took a basket and filled it not only according to A, B, C, or D, but with whatever else struck their fancy. The result was a huge pile of food and household stuff. They loved opening the packages after they arrived home. It was kind of like Christmas, no one knew what to expect.
“Look, Mom,“ said Marcie, “aren‘t these the largest peaches you ever saw?“
“‘They surely are,‘ agreed Jessie, “about as big as the bowl of the water dipper we used to have. I am sure I can never get one of those eaten in our ten minute rest period at the plant.“
Marcie was opening and sorting packages, “I got apples, celery, cabbages and carrots.“
“I hope you didn‘t forget the potatoes,“ broke in her mother, “we have only enough left for about three days.“
“Mom, I did, I can‘t see how I did, for I love potatoes. But I did. I‘m sorry.“
“Don‘t worry, Marcie,“ comforted Leona, “I‘ve got a big package of rice and beans. We can have those instead in between the potatoes.“
“I got some delicious looking salmon steaks,“ said Jessie, opening her packages for inspection.
“Fish! Ish!“ said Marcie.
“Well, I got some hamburger and steak, too,“
|Chapter 18 - p 153|
added her mother.
“Hamburger and steak--horse meat, no doubt, I‘ll eat eggs.“
“For goodness sake, Marcie, you are getting to be a vegetarian for sure, I guess I should have gotten you some more of that canned vegetable meat like you got once.“
“Wasn‘t it the awfullest, nastiest stuff you ever ate?“ asked Leona.
“Yes,“ said Tillie, “and I only had my one and only sandwich made with that stuff one day at work.“
“Say, Tillie, you weren‘t the only guinea pig. We all had that kind of sandwich that day. I ate half of mine, then I went to the canteen and got a good hamburger,“ said Jessie.
“I have to agree with you ladies, much as I dislike saying amen to your ‘I told you so.‘ It wasn‘t exactly what I expected,“ Marcie said.
“I don‘t think they will ever make you think you are eating steaks when it‘s really a mixture of something or other and peanut butter,“ said Jessie, “meatless meat, what a dish, but I want none of it.“
“You should really see Marcie when she has to give our stamps for things,“ said Leona. She gives the party behind the counter our books, then she tries to argue him or her into giving her back most or at least some of those they have taken out. Sometimes it works, too. She sort of
|Chapter 18 - p 154|
mixes them up.“
“For the love of mud,“ said Tillie, “look at the time and I am practically starving. Let‘s eat!“
|Chapter 18 - p|
§19 - Leona Makes Herself Shorter
|Chapter 19 - p 155|
“I‘ve got you and myself a date tonight,“ said Marcie to Leona that night after work. “They will be here shortly so we must hurry in the bathroom as they are coming right after work and want to change their clothes here.“
“All right,“ said Leona, “but I don‘t like blind dates, especially the kind you dig up for me, and I mean dig up! Why some of the men you‘ve
|Chapter 19 - p 156|
passed off on me must be sixty if they are a day.“
“Well, cheer up, Dearie, this one isn‘t sixty, there‘s only one thing--“
“What‘s that?“ asked Leona suspiciously.
“Do you think you could wear your low heeled shoes and maybe that brown dress of yours?“
“Marcie, you know I haven‘t a decent pair of low heeled shoes, I spent my number eighteen for a pair of high heeled ones, remember? And wear that old brown dress that I‘ve had for five years when I have that lovely new evening dress . . . you must be crazy.“
“But Leona, you won‘t look so tall in a short dress and low heels.“
“What do I care how tall I look as long as I look nice? What is this, anyway? You‘re up to something, out with it.“
Marcie began apologetically, “it‘s really not my fault, Leona. How was I to know when Le Roy asked me for a date and told me to ask you for his chum, his old chum was a five footer?“
“Marcie Northup, you big so and so, five foot! -- you mean a midget! Do you think I can enjoy dancing with someone when I can look right over his head, and instead of having his arm around my waist, he has to hang on to my skirts?“
“Leona,“ said Marcie sheepishly, “that is not all, he doesn‘t like tall girls, in fact, he mentioned specifically to Le Roy that he didn‘t care what the
|Chapter 19 - p 157|
blind date looked like just so she was not tall. But you‘ll go anyway, won‘t you Leona?“
“No,“ said Leona, but not too firmly.
“Please, honey, I want to go, you‘ll go, won‘t you?“
“You know I can‘t ever say no to you, yes, I‘ll go,“ promised Leona. Then she said in alarm, “suppose he sees how tall I am and gets suddenly ill, or even refuses to go?“
“Well, I‘ll tell you, you just sit until they get dressed, then it will be too late for him to back out.“
“I‘ll try it,“ said Leona dubiously, “but it may not work.“
The two young men came and Leona sat stiffly through the introduction on a low seat. They must have thought she had a broken leg. But before they got to the bathroom for their quick change to formal attire, she remembered something she had left in there, and flew like a bird to get it.
Jessie saw the eyes of the five foot young man widen in surprise and distaste, so she said, “The girls have been looking forward to seeing the Casa Manana ever since we‘ve been here. I think it is lovely of you young gentlement to take them.“ That settled the evening and off they went.
Unexpectedly the evening was a success, for
|Chapter 19 - p 158|
after a while Leona told her young man that she practised walking around on her knees in the living room to make herself shorter while he was in the bathroom, and he answered, “while you were doing that I was doing a series of stretching exercises to try and add a few inches to my height.“
They laughed and said, “what does height matter, we both like to dance.“
|Chapter 19 - p|
§20 - Hal‘s House
|Chapter 20 - p 159|
“Do you people want a house really, awfully bad?“ asked Tillie one day after work.
“What do you mean,“ snorted Marcie, “do you think we have been joking about it? It wasn‘t such a good joke the time we found a four room house and when we went to see it, it was three rooms but the woman said we could ‘make two rooms out of one, it is that big. Stretch a curtain in the middle.‘ It was an old store building and the floor sagged under its age. A more forlorn and dirty house I hope I never see. There was no toilet nor bath. We could however, use her ‘shower and toilet.‘ She had her tiny house made into a two family affair. A couple of old trailers setting on stilts in her yard were filled with soiled women and children. We could just see ourselves at the end of the line in front of the toilet while some child held up the procession. It was a house but not a house, your house sound sus-
|Chapter 20 - p 160|
[asked,‘ said Tillie]
piciously alike, somehow.“
“I guess you don‘t want to hear about this house then,“ said Tillie.
“Of course we do, tell us all,“ urged Jessie.
“It‘s kind of funny,“ said Tillie diffidently as she eyed Marcie expectantly, “but it happens that your boy friend told me about this one.“
“Boy friend, what boy friend,“ exploded Marcie.
“Oh, I mean Hal Hartley, you remember him, don‘t you? You and Leona went with him and Art to the Palladium.“
“He‘s not my boy friend, I don‘t want any boy friends, I only want escorts. What does he know about houses? I‘ll bet he‘s the only one in the whole plant I haven‘t asked about houses.“
“Yes, and he‘s the one you should have asked,“ said Tillie, “he said that he didn‘t know we wanted a house when they were here. He thought we were cozy.“
“Sure, cozy! like birds in a nest, or sardines in a can. Out with the news about the house, where is it? How big is it? How many bedrooms? What is the rent? Is it furnished? Has it a refrigerator, a big gas range, and a washing machine?“
“Not so fast, my lady, just because you have learned our requirements in rhyme it‘s no reason you have to cover me over with questions.“
“Tillie, please hurry up and tell us all you
|Chapter 20 - p 161|
[“what fools we women be!“]
now about the house,“ pleaded Leona.
“Well,“ said Tillie diffidently, “there‘s a man in it.“
“There is, do we have to wait for him to move? If he hasn‘t paid his rent why don‘t the owners tell him to move?“ asked Jessie.
“Oh, he is the owner,“ explained Tillie.
“Tillie, you old slow poke, you‘ve got something up your sleeve, who is this man? Someone looking for a housekeeper or a wife?“ teased Marcie.
“You‘re right, Marcie, absolutely right, that‘s what he wants,“ responded Tillie.
“Oh, for the love of mud, Tillie, you know we don‘t any of us want to get married except you, and you are already married, maybe Leona, and she has one all picked out and is now in the waiting stage. Isn‘t it funny, most women always seem to be waiting. Before they get married they wait for the right man to come along, afterward for him to come home. Shakespeare was right, only I would like to change one word in that famous line of his to state, ‘what fools we women be!‘“
“Marcie! Marcie!“ said her mother, “You don‘t really mean all that, stop the lectures and let Tillie tell us about the house.“
“It‘s just what we have looked for, if what he said was right. Furnished with all the things we
|Chapter 20 - p 162|
require, even the washing machine. It is over in G-----, and it is only about forty-five dollars a month. It has three bedrooms, all the beds have inner spring mattresses, three closets, no sliding doors on them, he said. There is a kitchen, living room and dining room and a bath room.“
“Ah, wonders never cease. Miracles do happen!“ commented Marcie. “When will this man move out?“
“I told you,“ reiteratd Tillie, “that he isn‘t moving, he is the owner, and he wants a housekeeper.“
“You‘re fooling, Tillie,“ said Leona, “none of us want to stay home and be his housekeeper, and it takes more than four defense workers to keep a house up to a man‘s requirements.“
“No, I‘m not fooling,“ said Tillie, “it‘s true, no man, no house.“
“That‘s just about like that house in B-----, where we had to have a husband to live in it. Only this time we are furnished with both a house and a man,“ said Marcie.
“What do you say, girls, shall I tell him we will take it?“ asked Tillie. His board and room take care of the rent. He said we can ride to work with him, too, that solves the ride problem.“
“Where does he work, Tillie,“ inquired Leona.
“He works at X-----,“ said Tillie with a sheepish look at Marcie.
|Chapter 20 - p 163|
[even is he has]
[all like him.‘]
“Who is he, Tillie, do I know him,“ asked Marcie.
“You surely do,“ blurted out Tillie, forgetting her caution, “it‘s Hal.“
“Hal? Hal who? Hal Hartley?“ asked Marcie.
“Sure, your pal Hal, he‘s the house owner,“ said Tillie, glad that the murder was out at last.
“See there, Mom, I knew all along we should never have invited him to dinner, he liked the cooking, I‘ll bet that old Simon Legree will expect pie like that lemon pie every day, chicken and biscuits, too. I‘ll be he‘s got his eye on Leona, darn him anyway, even if he has a nice house.“
“Marcie,“ reproved Tillie, “Hal is not a Simon Legree; he is a kind, handsome, charming supervisor, and the women all like him.“
“Sure they do,“ agreed Marcie, “aren‘t most of them on the make for a higher job, an easier job, or more money, or an evening‘s entertainment, with him paying the bill?“
“We dont‘ really care about Hal‘s activities or recreations,“ said Jessie, “the question before this apartment is, do we want a house badly enough to accept a man along with it?“
“I surely would enjoy a nice hot bath occasionally without robbing our neighbors and a clothes closet with only two people‘s clothes in it would be wonderful, especially as it hasn‘t the kind of doors that slide off the track,“ spoke up Leona.
|Chapter 20 - p 164|
[that‘s it‘s three]
“It certainly would be ideal,“ agreed Jessie and Tillie together.
“I see,“ said Marcie, “that it‘s three to one, so I guess we move. I‘ll see Hal and tell him tomorrow, myself, and I‘ll tell him too, pie maybe once a week, that we wash when we feel inclined, which is sometimes three weeks apart. We go out Sundays and don‘t cook all day, we get up when we please and eat at any time of the day or night, if he doesn‘t like that, then his house is out!“
Marcie saw Hal at work the next day and told him they would take the house. She told the girls, “He‘s coming over next Sunday to move us. So now it‘s pack up again, of course it‘s not quite so bad as last time, we have a week from tomorrow to pack in, being tomorrow is Sunday we better decide where we are going.“
“Sundays are always filled up going places and seeing things that on Mondays I‘m more tired than week days after work,“ said Leona.
“Let‘s go out to the Florentine Gardens today and see the ‘last of the red hot mamas,‘ or in other words, ‘Sophie Tucker‘,“ suggested Tillie.
“Then we can say hello to that nice young man who picked us up in his convertible, when we stayed so late at Hollywood that we missed the bus, and had to hitch-hike home,“ put in Marcie.
|Chapter 20 - p 165|
[feeding time that‘s]
“Was that the night we went to the Palladium or Ken Murray‘s Blackouts?“ asked Jessie.
“We went to the Palladium that time,“ said Leona.
“Well, Tommy Dorsey was swell,“ said Jessie, “but it was at Ken Murray‘s I saw my first movie star. One of my favorites, too, even if she is a dog, Blondie‘s and Dagwood‘s dog Daisy. She understands almost everything and when she brought in all those puppies that looked just like herself, only tiny, it was the cutest dog act I ever saw. Didn‘t you girls think it was good?“
It was good, they all agreed. “It wasn‘t nearly as scary as the lions at Griffith Park, eh Mom?“ laughed Leona, “I can still see you and Marcie hesitating to go by the cages.“
“Well, Leona,“ said Jessie, “I couldn‘t help thinking how tantalizing it must have been to see two delicious dinners (I mean Marcie and me walking by), of course Marcie would be rather lean, but I would no doubt qualify. It was just at dinner time too, and they were awfully hungry, running around in the cages and roaring every time we started by.“
“Oh, they knew it was feeding time and that‘s why they roared,“ said Tillie.
“Of course that‘s why but I could tell by the look in that big lion‘s eye, he would exchange six or seven pounds of meat for one hundred
|Chapter 20 - p 166|
[do the old cannibal]
thirty nine any day. It hurt me to see all those caged animals, although I know I‘d never see them otherwise,“ added Jessie. “It was only the ducks, harmless birds and the zebras that looked like they were enjoying any freedom.“
“You were afraid of the ostriches and alligators at Lincoln Park too,“ teased Leona.
“I wasn‘t frightened by those old high stepping ostriches,“ denied Jessie.
“But at that I saw you stayed away from the fence,“ laughed Tillie.
“I knew they didn‘t have any teeth but they certainly could peck at you hard if they wanted to,“ answered Jessie.
“As to those alligators they looked just like long grey-brown logs lying in the sun, with not life enough to eat anything,“ said Jessie.
“Just the same they awakened fast enough when the man tossed that meat to them. Remember how you screamed and ran, Mom, when two of them got in a battle and one bit the other‘s leg off.“
“I certainly do remember the old cannibal, they are so bad they have to have them apart in age groups.“
“Now that we have been back to Griffith and
|Chapter 20 - p 167|
[partition. It‘s a]
Lincoln Park, and the Blackouts in memory, how about the Florentine Gardens for tomorrow?“ asked Marcie.
“Everyone agreeable, say yes.“
“Yes“ they shouted, forgetting the near neighbors. Immediately angry sounds came from behind the partition. “It‘s a good thing we are moving, I‘d say,“ said Jessie, “let‘s go to bed.“
|Chapter 20 - p|
§21 - Salt Water
|Chapter 21 - p 168|
[after little brother]
Hal came over the next Sunday. He brought a trailer behind his car and moved the girls in two trips.
Then began the new regime. It was odd having a man around, but Jessie and Tillie having been married, found the adjustment easier. They took Hal‘s welfare almost as seriously as he did. Jessie worried if she forgot to darn a sock, sew on a button, or prepared something that he didn‘t care for. Tillie acted like an older sister, who was looking after her little brother.
Hal fell into the habit of the two girls and called Jessie, “Mom“ and Leona and Marcie, “Sis“. Tillie he just called Tillie. He was good humored and easy to get along with, so the
|Chapter 21 - p 169|
[of,, but one]
family was happy and congenial going to work together and returning together.
“Mom,“ said Marcie, “have you seen my X---- badge since we moved?”
“No,“ said Jessie. “Have you misplaced it again?”
“Tillie and Leona, have you seen it?”
“‘Nary hide nor hair‘; are you certain you didn‘t lose it on purpose? You know how you threatened to do away with that old ‘pregnant badge‘” said Leona.
“I‘ll bet she did,” said Tillie. “You know, in detective stories the criminal always does away with the body and pretends innocence.”
“No,” denied Marcie, “I didn‘t lose it on purpose, but I can‘t deny that I‘m glad it disappeared.”
“I‘ll bet you won‘t hunt too hard to find it either,” said Tillie.
“Oh, I looked every place I could think of, but one must expect to lose something when one moves.”
“Sure,” said Leona, “and this time it‘s something you wanted to get rid of.”
“Hurry up girls,” urged Jessie. “Hal‘s waiting. Have you got everything; purses, lunches, keys, passes and badges?”
“Everything but Marcie‘s badge,” said Tillie. “She‘ll have to get a temporary paper for a badge today.”
|Chapter 21 - p 170|
“But I‘ll bet I get another within two days, minus the dot,” said Marcie, and she did.
Sunday was beautiful, sunny and everything California says her climate is. The girls fixed coffee, rolls and tomato juice and the four girls and Hal sat around the big dining room table debating how to spend the day.
“Have you been out to Long Beach?“ asked Hal.
“No,“ said everyone, “not yet, but we have hopes.“
“No use waiting longer to realize them, I want to go swimming and would like to have all of you along.“
Marcie beamed, “Of course, we‘ll go, you surely think of nice things to do.“
“You certainly settle all of our futures with a slip of the tongue, don‘t you?“ asked Leona.
“Well, maybe you want to stay home and crochet doilies for your hope chest, the darn thing is so full now, that you can hardly stick a needle in anywhere. Where did you put that set of egg shell dishes you bought out of your last pay check?“
“Those are Haviland china dishes and hard to get now,“ said Leona.
“I don‘t care how hard they are to get, I don‘t want any, give me some nice old thick cups you can bang around,“ said Marcie, “and speaking
|Chapter 21 - p 171|
[coat.” “Oh, you]
[easy prey. “Come]
of hope chests and things, how did you manage to escape the clutches of the She-Wolf dispatcher with flowers in her hair and twisty back end, for a Sunday, Hal?“
“You don‘t mean Marion, do you, Marcie?“ said Hal seriously. “She‘s a swell girl and cute, too.“
“I‘ll say she‘s cute. Cute enough to keep you and two or three more of her men from meeting on her front door step.“
“Marcie, I don‘t believe that, she is a nice girl, and hard working, too. She sends every penny home to her sick mother, that is, all except what he needs herself.“
“I‘ll bet that‘s true,“ said Marcie, “she probably does send her mother the quarter she has left over after buying herself what she wants. So she has a sick mother. You surely are easy to fall for that sick mother gag. I‘ll bet she never had a mother.“
“Oh, but Marcie, she has, why only a month ago, when her mother needed and operation she sent her two hundred dollars.“
“Two hundred dollars,“ snorted Marcie, “so that‘s how she got that fur coat. Oh, you easy prey. Come on, let‘s go out to the beach and maybe we can all get a little salt to go with the stuff you‘ve been feeding us.”
Hal took the four girls out to Long Beach.
|Chapter 21 - p 172|
To Tillie the orange and other citrus groves were no new sight, but to the Minnesotians, they represented a dream come true:
“Oh, how beautiful this country is,“ said Jessie, “with its pepper and walnut trees, the houses with rose bushes as high as the roof and roofs covered with climbing, flowering vines.“
“You should have seen it before the war,“ Hal answered, “then the gardens were wonderful. Now, with help so scarce, it is in a make shift stage waiting the return of the farmers.“
“I never saw an oil derrick before,“ said Marcie, “and here are so many, it doesn‘t seem possible that there is rationing.“
Hal answered, “It‘s not that gas is scarce, remember that notice in the restaurant that said, ‘Be kind to our help. They are more scarce than customers.‘ Here we are, girls, Long Beach.“
“My first view of the Ocean,“ cried Jessie, “how big and wonderful!“
“Why,“ said Leona, “this looks like what I picture Coney Island to be.“
“I guess most oceanside places are like Coney Island,“ said Tillie, “concessions of all kinds like a fair, ferris wheel, roller coaster, salt water taffy and friend shrimp.“
The girls had their bathing suits for the occasion. Marcie in a black bathing suit and Leona in a beautiful yellow one, would have made a
|Chapter 21 - p 173|
good ad for any beach resort.
Jessie and Tillie had their suits along too, although Jessie had purchased a fitted white eyelet number that caught her eye in a store window, she didn‘t intend to get any salt water on it.
Tillie, Hal and the girls all went into the ocean, while Jessie sat on shore under a big red and yellow beach umbrella. She was content, satisfied to dream and look at the ocean.
High waves with white tops carried boats with sails and without, here and there. Gulls flew over or gathered up the remains of picnic lunches. It was ideal. All she ever thought it might be, even her near neighbors screaming and chasing each other in the water and out, didn‘t even bother her.
All at once she felt herself grabbed and hurried by three wet people into the ocean. She opened her mouth as a big wave hit her and found that the ocean really was salty. Not a nice pleasant salt like you put on your potatoes, but a bitter salt that burned as it went down.
“Jump, Mom!“ they all commanded, “here comes a wave, give me your hand, now up over, isn‘t it fun?“
Jessie looked surprised and delighted, “It surely is fun, here comes another wave, let‘s jump!“
“Thanks, Hal, for a lovely day,“ said Jessie
|Chapter 21 - p 174|
that evening. Leona and Tillie and Marcie were too busy applying sun-burn cream to their red burned bodies to be polite.
Hal answered, “It was a good day, hurry up with that sun-burn paste, girls! I feel like I‘m on fire.“
|Chapter 21 - p|
§22 - A Day at Work
|Chapter 22 - p 175|
[every every night]
Leona and Jessie missed the station wagon at Plant X----- that now took them from X----- to Plant I. Jessie was disappointed.
She said, “How do you suppose Lois always manages to get to work on time? She has a date nearly every night, but she still looks fresh and pretty the next day.“
Leona answered, “No doubt she sleeps all the time between dates and work. We can‘t do that; we have our house work to do.“
Jessie was worried. “It‘s getting late, Leona. I hate to be late to work.“
“Don‘t worry, Mom, it‘s a good thing. My lit-
|Chapter 22 - p 176|
[lost it‘s appeal]
tle old thumb has surely getting rusty since Hal came along.“
“Well, I hope it hasn‘t lost its appeal for we have only twenty minutes to make Plant I, and I hate to be late.“
“See, Mom,“ said Leona. “Here comes that old friend of ours who has never failed us yet.“
“Guess we should begin paying him,“ said Jessie. “He‘s taken us over two times already this week. We might as well ride with him all the time, only when I remember the rains to come, I think of how wet we would be walking from that corner where he lets us out, up to Plant I.“
“Hello, there, you good Samaritan,“ said Leona, as the approaching car stopped, and the man opened the door for them to get in.
“‘That she blows‘“ said Leona as the five minutes to work time whistle blew and she and Jessie ran up the incline to show the guards their passes and badges. They couldn‘t run after they got through the gate, as signs warned them to walk, not run, but they certainly walked at a double quick, as they separated to go each to a different section.
Jessie took her time card out of the rack and checked in just as the whistle blew for work, so although she was there, her time card would read 7.9 instead of 8.0, docked one tenth of an
|Chapter 22 - p 177|
hour for being a minute late.
“I hope Mary or Fannie or somebody has found a stool for me,” she thought, as she hurried along. Stools are not plentiful, so to get one, one had to be early, although there had been cases where you could say some one stol one right out from behind you. Of course, if you do get a stool, it‘s not certain you will get a job where you can sit, and if you have standing work you lend your stool out to some friend who has none.
Today Jessie‘s bench mate, Mary, had saved her a stool, and she hoped that was a good omen, for it was the first nice thing that had happened to her today. Maybe she wouldn‘t have to drill today, and besides, it was Friday; pay day, the best day, next to Sunday, in the week. Then she put on her blue overall work apron and signed her time card.
Jessie saw her group leader, Hank, a young man who could have been her son in age, approaching, and as he gave out the work she got a cutting job. It wasn‘t a cutting job with the Dutchman‘s snips; this job had to be cut on a shears standing on a base about as high as she. You work the handle up and down and push the parts between the cutting blades. If the parts were heavy, this was a blister making job, but if they were light, it was easy. Today she
|Chapter 22 - p 178|
[before bcause of]
had only the tabs on the parts to snip off. She liked to cut, even the heavy parts, so the day was going fine. “There‘s the timekeeper to take down what we are doing and the time already,“ she thought, as she saw a short, rather handsome man of past middle age approach. He had a big bundle of checks, how could she forget this was pay day? She knew she would get a short check this week as she had been absent two days the week before because of a sick headache. But as each one is entitled to five days a year of pay called sick leave, she knew in a week or two she would get the two days‘ pay in a separate check marked “sick leave.”
Jessie folded the check and stuck it in the pocket of her denim slacks. Then a thought struck her; she was in the check pool! What numbers did she have? She pulled the check out again and glanced at it, but although she thought it looked good, she wasn‘t sure.
“Say, Syd, will you look at this?“ she asked. “How does it look to you? Is it any good in the pool?“
“I‘ll say it‘s good,“ he answered. “If anyone beats you they‘ll have to go some; four aces and ten high.“
Jessie thought of how she had almost dodged the boy, Danny, who asked her if she wanted to go in on the pool.
|Chapter 22 - p 179|
[a “hot“ job]
“There goes important Bertha,“ she thought. “If only she knew how funny she looks with her overall slacks rolled up half way to her knees; she must be forty-eight anyway. I‘d sure like to ask her if she had been wading. She thinks this department couldn‘t get along without her. She‘s always telling of the big job she has just finished or begun. If she does a filing job, it‘s always a ‘hot‘ job, a rush order. That kind of makes it all right for her to do a filing job.
“Shucks,“ said Jessie to herself. “I‘m through now, I‘ll have to find the group leader and ask for a new job. Oh, here he comes. ‘I have finished the cutting, Hank, now what?‘“
“You can go over to your bench and help Mary with the job she has,“ he answered.
“O.K.,“ she said, and went to the tool crib to get some files.
“Oh, for goodness sake, Mary,“ said Jessie, as she took her place between Hugh and Mary, “what a pile of little parts. It will take us all the time we have left to finish these.“
Hugh was pounding parts on a thick metal slab. POUND! POUND! POUND! with a rawhide hammer. “That pounding jars my head so,“ complained Jessie to Mary. So Mary said, “Hugh, why don‘t you move that slab over? You‘re hurting Jessie‘s head with your pounding.“
|Chapter 22 - p 180|
“How can I hurt her head? I miss her head by two feet every time I hit,“ he answered.
“Well, I guess there‘s no moving him,“ said Mary. “Look at that new woman at the last bench. She‘s a new sort of sweater girl. She has plenty of what it takes in a size forty-eight sweater.“
Jessie agreed and said, “I hope our group leader doesn‘t put me beside that big woman in light blue slacks to file when I‘ve finished this job. Her breath needs a stronger word than halitosis, or between those two deaf ones, either. Boy, that week I had them both for work mates, I got so I‘d not only scream at them, but everybody else. It surely was a big relief when that week ended. Say, Mary, there goes the new sweeper; isn‘t he an odd one? Ruby says he has a button missing. Guess she means he isn‘tso smart. Just look at what he has on, an air filter. It looks odd because no one wears them here. Looks like a gas mask.“
“He surely was funny today as he took his time card out of the rack and looked at it as if he never saw one before. Then he held it up to the light as if he were trying to see what was inside. Just like one who was trying to read through an envelope to see what was written inside,“ said Mary.
“There is the other sweeper pushing the long
|Chapter 22 - p 181|
pieces of scrap aluminum down into the barrel. He sounds like he‘s talking in a foreign language, but I guess he isn‘t,“ said Jessie.
“No,“ said Mary, “it‘s his Italian-American accent.“
“Look at Lawrence‘s shirt; it surely is dirty today. He has worn it three days and the factory dirt and his perspiration fixed it. How would you like to wash it?“ asked Jessie.
“I wouldn‘t,“ answered Mary quickly, “but it surely was a beautiful white satin striped shirt Wednesday. Now, it‘s a wreck.“
“For goodness sake, Violet has that white Angora sweater on again. Must have been new yesterday. It looked so soft and pretty then. She looked like a little white kitten in it, and she has a kitten‘s claws, too, don‘t you think?“ asked Jessie.
“She certainly always looks after Violet,“ agreed Mary, “Being so little, she appeals to the group leader and usually gets the easiest jobs.“
“Oh, Agnes has a job cutting. She‘s always worrying lest someone gets more money per hour than she does, or an easier job. I never saw a person with a bigger chip on the shoulder than she has,“ said Jessie.
“I feel sorry for our group leader sometimes, and I know why he puts most of the unpleasant jobs on Fanny and you and me. We don‘t kick,“
|Chapter 22 - p 182|
said Mary, “at least not much.“
“I wish I could look as busy doing nothing as Roberta can,“ said Jessie. “She‘s surely talking her head off, too. I‘ll bet we all get moved around again. I don‘t talk much very often, neither does Fannie or you.“
“There go a couple of girl dispatchers down the promenade,“ pointed Mary. “That one looks like a bride with that white net tied in a bow on her head. All she needs is a white satin gown and, ‘Here Comes the Bride‘.“
“I‘d like to wear flowers in my hair like those girl dispatchers going by, carrying a few papers around,“ said Jessie. “I guess I would, too, if I had the nerve, for there are a couple of women at the burring bench who have flowers in their hair and their hair is grey. Are those Hibiscus flowers, Mary? I think they are so pretty.“
“Yes, they are Hibiscus,“ answered Mary.
“There goes Betty. Gee, look, her nose is perfect now. I never saw anyone before who had their nose made over by a plastic surgeon,“ said Jessie. “I never thought it would look good though. When I saw it last week, it looked so white and dead. A wonderful thing, plastic surgery.“
“There goes the whistle for the rest period. Guess I‘ll go outside and get some fresh air for these ten minutes. Aren‘t you going outside?“
|Chapter 22 - p 183|
[wouldn‘t you, Jessie.]
“All right. I like to get away from the smoke, although I like to listen to the music they have at smoking period,“ agreed Jessie.
“They really have a varied program of music, from ‘Tales of Vienna Woods,“ down to the ‘Queenie Strip Tease‘,“ said Mary.
“That‘s why I like it, it‘s not boring always changing.“
“Here comes Agnes. I wonder what she has to gripe about now,“ said Mary.
“Hello, Agnes,“ greeted Jessie, “how‘s the work?“
“Rotten,“ answered Agnes, “I think Hank doesn‘t like me. He always gives me the hardest work.“ “I‘m going to holler for a raise. I‘ll get one too, or I‘ll terminate.“
“How long have you been here, Agnes?“ asked Mary.
“Ten months,“ said Agnes, “just the same as Anna and she gets more pay, it sure makes me mad, and I‘m going to tell them so, wouldn‘t you, Jessie?“
But Jessie was off day dreaming as she looked at the hills, “this is the most wonderful country in the world, so warm in winter, comfortable and sunny every day. So many flowers, such gorgeous ones, green grass and trees and that beautiful blue twilight, so deeply blue
|Chapter 22 - p 184|
[significant updates to the quotation marks throughout this page]
it is a royal purple. I always thought that it was just a poetic thought when a song writer wrote, ‘when the deep purple falls. Oh, how beautiful. I want to write a poem about it. How shall I begin? I know --
“Oh there is the whistle.“
“Yes, Agnes, let‘s go in.“
“I‘ll write that down for a beginning on some brown wrapping paper,“ thought Jessie, as she hurried to her bench.
“Say, Jessie,“ said Hugh, “have you a block of wood so long and so wide,“ and he indicated the length.
She looked in her bench drawer and thought as she did, “I must return that padlock and key to the office, it‘s funny how they change their minds about locks. When I first found a drawer I had no lock so I wanted to buy one. The company said, ‘No, you must use ours.‘ So, I wait for two months for someone to turn in a company padlock and key. Today there was a notice attached to my drawer that said, ‘return to office within two days.‘ Now it‘s go buy yourself a lock.“
“No, Hugh, I haven‘t, but look in the commun-
|Chapter 22 - p 185|
ity treasure chest,“ suggested Jessie, as she filed away at her job. The “community treasure chest“, as she called it, was everybody‘s drawer. No one owned it, everybody used it. They put everything there they wanted to save and had no room for in their drawer. It wasn‘t locked.
Hugh pulled opened the drawer, and after taking a felt pad used as a steel cushion, a piece of metal used in forming, a brush used in painting on metal so the scribe line could be easily followed and cut, three chunks of wax, four pairs of worn out gloves, somebody‘s face shield, he came upon the wood yard in the bottom. All sizes and shapes of blocks.
“At last,“ said Hugh, as he found the right one in size and began to drill.
“There,“ said Mary, “goes one slouchy dispatcher and what a shrieking outfit.“ Paris green colored slacks met a brilliant blue shirt, in the front the girl had tied the two ends of her shirt in a big knot, leaving a tanned exposure.
“Why doesn‘t she ever fix up?“ said Jessie. “Most of the dispatchers look like movie stars in slacks.“
“Say,“ said Hugh, as another dispatcher went by, “what is it, a girl or a boy?“
Jessie looked at the girl-boy going past and couldn‘t decide. There was something so feminine, yet so masculine about her. Jessie didn‘t
|Chapter 22 - p 186|
like it. She had always been able to tell a man and woman apart before.
“You ask for a date and tell me,“ suggest Jessie.
“No, thank you,“ said Hugh, “one of my friends did that, he said it was a man, but I had someone tell me she calls herself a woman.“
“It‘s nearly lunch time,“ Jessie said, “aren‘t you just starved, Mary?“
“Yes, I am, for I only had a glass of milk all day, I can hardly wait for that whistle. Have you been upstairs yet to wash up?“ she asked.
“No, I haven‘t, but I‘m going right now,“ said Jessie. “Oh gosh, anoter nick out of my hand. Those hook scrapers surely slip up on you.“
“You better go to first aid, hadn‘t you?“ asked Mary.
“No, I‘ll go up to the rest room and wash it and put one of my own bandages on. There goes Fannie, I want to go up when she goes. Isn‘t she sweet? Takes all the rough work that everyone else refuses. I wish I had such a lovely disposition, you are like that too, Mary,“ she added.
After lunch Jessie asked, “Fannie, did Jack‘s daughter win the movie contest?“
“I haven‘t heard yet, but I guess we will if she does, he is always telling us about her. She is surely a pretty little thing, if her picture doesn‘t flatter her.“
|Chapter 22 - p 187|
[with it?“ “Guess]
“He showed me that picture, too, she didn‘t look like him,“ said Jessie. “I heard her once on the radio, and she‘s pretty good. No doubt she‘ll win. I see this rotten filing job will last the rest of the night.“
“Guess it will. Did you win the pool, Jessie?“ asked Mary.
“I don‘t know for sure yet, but here comes Danny to tell me.“
“Well, you‘re the lucky lady,“ said Danny, “and here‘s the thirty bucks.“
“Really, Danny! It‘s too good to be true. I never won anything before in my life. I‘ll have to treat all of you,“ and Jessie glowed.
“Think nothing of it, lady, think nothing of it. I‘m glad you won it, Jessie.“
“Thanks, Danny, I hope you win next time,“ said Jessie, thinking, “thirty dollars extra, what shall I do with it? Guess I‘ll remember a lot of people back home, my father and mother, and get a big box of candy to treat this section, then if I have any left, I‘ll buy myself a new book of the month.“
Mary broke in on Jessie‘s day dreams. “Jessie, how did your transfer come out?“
“Well, it‘s a joke in a way,“ answered Jessie. “That is, if it had happened to someone else. I think I could get a degree of fun from it, and even as it is, it‘s worth a laugh. You remember
|Chapter 22 - p 188|
[will O.K. it.“]
[I went back]
[and said, “Personnel]
[a new job.“]
[“I‘ll tell you]
talk to her.“]
[what to do,“]
when I had been here five months I decided I‘d like a transfer, so I went to our group leader and asked him if I could have a transfer to some other kind of work. He listened and told me to see the supervisor. So I went to the supervisor and he listened and sent me to the foreman, who also listened and said, ‘I see by your record you have only been with us five months, we cannot transfer anyone that hasn‘t been here six months or longer.‘ So I went back and filed away a couple of months more, then I went back up where I had left off at the foreman‘s desk and asked for a transfer again. The foreman listened and said, ‘Well, you go over and talk to Personnel.‘ So I went to Personnel and there I got the first encouraging sign. They said, ‘We can and will find you a new job if your foreman will O.K. it.‘
“I went back to the foreman and said, ‘Personnel says if you will give your O.K. they will find me a new job.‘
“‘I‘ll tell you what to do,‘ said the foreman, ‘go over to the Lady Counsellor and talk to her.‘
“The Lady Counsellor talked in circles mostly. She sounded like a peace arbitrator, and I had no quarrel to settle with anyone. I only wanted work that I felt I could do better, and like better while doing it. I couldn‘t get anywhere.
“She said, ‘Why don‘t you go back and talk over your difficulties with your group leader?‘
|Chapter 22 - p 189|
“So after riding the transfer merry-go-round for seven months I am back where I started -- my group leader.“
“Yes,“ said Agnes, who had been listening in, “I guess that‘s the way the thing works. Now if you played sly and hinted you were crazy about this department and wanted to stay here they would send you away to forty, twenty-three, or twelve or wherever they felt like, or even perhaps where you liked. Remember Jimmie, who was perfectly satisfied with this department until they sent him to twenty-two or somewhere, after he had grown attached to department twenty-two they sent him back to us? Recall how mad he was? How you thought he was making funny faces while he was shearing and he was just swearing to himself?“
“Yes, and I remember the boy who asked the girl timekeeper how she got her job, as he would like to be a timekeeper, too,“ said Jessie.
She answered, “Well, you just tell them you‘d like clerical work, that you can type and keep books, then they‘ll no doubt hand you a bunch of time cards and you can walk around with a pencil putting down work numbers.“
“Don‘t think they don‘t transfer anyone, for they do,“ said Agnes.
“I was transferred to this department from twenty-six along with four others. We didn‘t ask
|Chapter 22 - p 190|
for, nor want transfers. Then just last week they took five or six out of here and sent them to department twenty-six. Mysterious goings on.“
“Yes, very. Maybe as they say all the makings of an airplane passes through this department they are afraid we‘ll get to know each one,“ said Mary.
“Say, the things that we work on here have as much resemblance to a finished airplane as a cotton plant has to a completed dress, besides if that were so, they ought to give not only me a transfer but the rest of you as well. I‘ll bet we‘ve filed on every one of the forty thousand parts they say an airplane has.“ Jessie broke off her spoke to say, “Look, girls, only seven minutes to the last whistle, let‘s leave the rest of these things for the new shift and clean up.“
Jessie was only half way down in the line before the time clock, so it was only two minutes after the whistle blew when she punched her time card, and hurried out to meet Leona.
|Chapter 22 - p|
§23 - No Dishes to Wash
|Chapter 23 - p 191|
[said, “you look]
Hal looked tired a couple of Sundays later, as the four sat at breakfast.
Jessie said, “You look tired, Hal. You worked too hard this week.”
“Tired,” snorted Marcie. “Did you ever see a supervisor work? I never did and I‘ve been around. Besides, any man that has a She-Wolf chasing him always looks tired.”
“Marcie,” said Hall, “Marion isn‘t a She-Wolf,” but he said it rather uncertainly, as Marcie noticed.
“So you‘ve finally met him?” she asked.
“Met who?” ungrammatically inquired Hal.
“The other man. Marion changes that old one of having two strings to her bow to having two beaus to her string, only I think she doesn‘t stop at two.”
|Chapter 23 - p 192|
Hal looked at Marcie and thought, “I‘m darn glad she doesn‘t know how true that is.“ He said, “Let‘s all go out to dinner and a show. How about it, Leona?“
“That would be nice,“ she assented, “but it‘s each for himself. We earn as well as you. Where shall we go?“
“I‘d like to go to Clifton‘s,“ said Jessie. “It‘s so restful, yet entertaining there. I love to see those tall glass flowers lighted up, and go to the mezzanine floor, the waitress wearing a flower lei, carrying a big tray of delicious food. There, I could sit for hours listening to the beautiful music and singing, either religious or romantic. Canaries in cages vie with human singers. One of them is a Jenny Lind of song birds. Water falls like rain in rock pools, where ferns and green plants and water lilies are growing.“
“Mom, you sound like an ad. Are you sure you aren‘t getting paid for that?“ asked Leona.
“Yes, Mom, you forgot the rain hut, the Hawaiian scenery, and the colored water fall,“ said Marcie.
“Don‘t make fun of me, girls,“ said Jessie. “I have heard Clifton‘s do so much good. Besides feeding the hungry who can pay, they feed the hungry who cannot pay.“
“We aren‘t making fun. We want to go to Clifton‘s, too. Don‘t we, girls?“
|Chapter 23 - p 193|
Tillie and Leona agreed.
“Remember the last time we went there?” asked Marcie. “The table next to ours had the free birthday cake from Clifton‘s in the center. It was a soldier boy‘s twenty-first birthday dinner. Dad, brother, sister, mother and auntie, all had gifts for the boy.
“Mom cried when they sang, ‘It‘s somebody‘s birthday today.’ But wasn‘t it a lift when the girl from Minnesota was the lucky one to get the free flower lei. Remember how happy and pretty she looked in it?”
“Yes,” said Tillie. “I also remember how you girls stood up to get a better look at her, half expecting her to be from your home town, I suppose.”
“Yes, I guess we did,” said Jessie. “You know miracles happen in California.”
|Chapter 23 - p|
§24 - Dry Humor
|Chapter 24 - p 194|
Monday was always a hard day. On Sundays the girls played so hard having fun that they were more tired Mondays than on Saturdays, the end of the week. Besides looking ahead, six days would be a long time to wait to go some place they had heard about, and wanted to see.
Monday after work Hal had a date. Leona carried his lunch bucket in. The girls opened two cans of vegetable soup, got a package of cheese crackers, four bowls and four spoons, poured tall glasses of cold milk and lunch was served.
“You know,” said Marcie, taking some crackers for her soup, “some people appreciate little things so much and we can all do little things for each other, but sometimes I think it‘s too much bother, like when Bob, one of the men in my section, came to me for help. I almost didn‘t help
|Chapter 24 - p 195|
[trouble to me.“]
[I asked, ‘what]
[shall I do?‘“]
[him the story.“]
him. I was busy and tired, and when he came and told his story I tried to pass the buck like almost everyone else does down there. I said, ‘why don‘t you tell Mr. S.?‘ I knew my boss was one swell guy who was always helping someone and if he did something, then my conscience would be easy with no trouble to me.
“But Bob said, ‘I told him already and he can‘t straighten it out.‘ Then I felt rather proud to thnk he thought I might fix up something that our head couldn‘t, so I asked, ‘What is the matter?‘“
“Bob said, ‘It‘s my social security number, the company copied it down wrong and now my number at Washington, D.C. and here at X-------, and on my insurance policy are different. I have seen timekeepers, group heads, office and personnel, and no results. I thought to myself, ‘Oh, for goodness‘ sake, what a big deal, what shall I do?‘
“Just then, as if in answer to my plea, the union chairman walked by; a bright idea struck me and I asked Bob, ‘Do you belong to the union?‘
“He answered, ‘Yes‘.
“So I called, ‘Les, come here, can you do something about this?‘ and I told him the story.
“The results were surprising, in only a short time everything was being corrected and Bob
|Chapter 24 - p 196|
came back to thank me again and again.“
“Marcie, that was a fine thing to do,“ said her mother.
“Don‘t praise me, Mom,“ answered Marcie, “I didn‘t do anything he couldn‘t have done if he had gone to the union.“
“Sure, and that‘s it,“ said Leona. “He didn‘t go, and you helped him.“
“I know just how you feel, Marcie,“ said her mother. “I felt like that today when someone told me that a lady who works across from me won the check pool money. She and a man both had the same numbers, so they split the money. She gave her half to the Red Cross. I felt small, for I spent mine.“
“Yes, Mom,“ said Leona, “but you spent it mostly on someone else, besides, didn‘t you donate blood for the Red Cross?“
“Surely I did, but I made a nuisance of myself doing it. This same lady gave blood the very same day. She didn‘t have to lie around like I did. She went to work just as usual.“
“So did you, Mom,“ said Marcie.
“Yes, but I took it easy even there.“
“Mom,“ broke in Marcie, “you look tired. When will you ask for a transfer?“
“We had to push Leona into a job she likes, and now it‘s you. Why don‘t you try for an office job?“
|Chapter 24 - p 197|
“Oh, I guess I realize I‘m a trifle too heavy and ten or fifteen years too old to get an office job.“
“Mom,“ said Leona, “you are just evading the issue as they say. You know office girls hardly ever sit on the boss‘s lap. That‘s just an old joke.“
“Yes, I guess it is, but it always get a laugh. If you think people don‘t laugh at old jokes, go to the movies sometime.“
“Sure, I know their jokes are mostly old, but they put them in such new dresses you‘d never know if you just didn‘t bother to think, now let‘s see, where have I heard that before?“ agreed Leona.
“I saw something funny today at work,“ said Jessie. “Not a joke exactly, but it was funny. Of course the fun was in the seeing, and I don‘t know how well I can make you see it in words. One of the women, Anna, is about forty-seven and is about five feet tall and fat. She almost always wears the same kind of slacks and plenty big in the seat. Her legs are so short that the crotch of her slacks is only about a foot from the floor. Today she was stacking parts in a big box almost as tall as she was. She would take a few parts, bend over and put them in. I had one eye on the file I was using and one on her. All at once I thought I saw something on the downward bend, but up she came again; on the down sweep I saw it again. ‘White un-
|Chapter 24 - p 198|
[that be?“ When]
[of the rest room.]
dergarments,‘ I thought, ‘but how coudl that be?‘ When she straighted up I couldn‘t see a thing except a wide expanse of slacks. No rip, no tear. I thought I must be seeing things, but I had to be sure, so I took my other eye off my file and concentrated on the mystery. Down-bend -- two blue pillar like legs, a big white curtain between. Upsweep -- a solid blue wall, and so on until on the twenty-second bend I decided it was an old-fashioned chemise that was hanging out, but from where I sat I still didn‘t know. I didn‘t have nerve enough to ask her so I told one of the other women. She went up to Anna and asked her if her slacks were ripped somewhere. Then began the investigation. Back, sides, then the front. When she pulled aside her apron to look, the whole front seam was open. She disappeared like a shot in the direction of the rest room.“
“That must have been funny to you, Jessie, but for the woman‘s sake I‘m glad no one else saw it,“ said Tillie, “no doubt she would have been embarrassed.“
“Guess I‘ll wash the dishes,“ said Leona, stacking the bowls in the sink beside the dinner dishes.
“Better put on your apron,“ said Jessie. “You should see the kind of aprons they wear at work. Everything from a big denim like mine to a kit-
|Chapter 24 - p 199|
[is O. K.‘.“]
chen apron like Leona‘s. Today a cute new girl even wore a beautiful frilly hostess apron. It surely looked out of place. Some of the girls make aprons from brown wrapping paper and tie a string around their middles. I saw one with an old cotton curtain, and one with a library table throw. I guess they think, ‘anything that protects from grease and dirt is O.K.‘“
“Yes, and that‘s not all the funny things people wear out there,“ said Leona. “I saw one girl who could have taken a place at Madison Square Garden Rodeo. She looked just what the movies say a cowgirl should look like. Lots of the women wear highheeled cowboy boots. I saw one fellow with an “Inspector“ band on his arm and with his high heeled riding boots, he looked as if he were going to inspect horses, not airplane parts.“
|Chapter 24 - p|
§25 - Wails and Tales
|Chapter 25 - p 200|
Tillie told the girls, “Hal has a new girlfriend. The little with spelled with a B, the so and so. That‘s the reason you‘ve been carrying his lunch bucket in these last three weeks, Leona.“
“So another nasty old She-Wolf is chasing your little brother,“ said Marcie. “I‘m beginning to think he enjoys the chase. I never see him run very fast.“
“No doubt one of those dyed hair kind; blondes, brunettes, red heads with streaks of their natural color showing through,“ Jessie was condemnatory. “Girls aren‘t satisfied with anything nature gave them, they want to rate according to movie standards. They shave off their eyebrows and pencil them on anywhere they feel like, ever day in a different place. One of the girls in my department wears hers in a perpetual uplifted effect, it gives her a ‘you don‘t say so‘ expression of surprise. They paint their lips on in a perfect cupid‘s bow regardless of
|Chapter 25 - p 201|
[on her hands.]
[‘Ah! I thought]
whether it conforms to their lip lines or not. Most of the girls wear loads of jewelry. One girl yesterday had four bracelets on each arm. They came up half way to her elbows, she had large set earrings, a big costume jewelry necklace, a large dinner ring and two smaller rings on her hands.“
“Arlene is the kind of girl,“ remarked Tillie, “that uses sex appeal. She doesn‘t just touch a man gently with it. she flaunts it in his face. She struts, poses and preens. Yesterday I saw her come in, that is I had a back view. ‘Ah!‘ I thought, ‘a new blouse and mighty sheer, too. Up to another of her tricks I suppose.‘ Later on, from where I sat at the hydro I saw the men one by one go up and back past Arlene‘s punch press. I watched until I couldn‘t stand it any longer, then I thought I must see, too. You know how the operator of a press has to raise his or her arms to pull the press. Well, there sat Arlene, no brassiere under her blouse. Venus de Milo in chiffon, only of course Arlene‘s arms were raised over her head instead of cut off. I swear to you girls, she even had the nipples rouged.“
“What a cheap girl,“ said Jessie.
“Nothing cheap about Arlene,“ said Tillie. “Only the scenery is free. It costs to handle.
|Chapter 25 - p 202|
She has men coming and going. They never come empty handed, but they always go away with empty pockets.“
“I should think that Hal wouldn‘t be taken in by that kind of girl anymore after Marion,“ said Leona.
“Oh, this is a different type of girl,“ explained Tillie. “Marion was satisfied with a couple of men at a time. Arlene has big ideas. She wants a million men and each one able to do more for her than the one before. She wants attention, and out to get it if she has to do a strip tease. She poses for nude pictures of beautiful girls, and the men who has seen them say they are A-I. Just now, her idea is that through the Supervisor she may go to the foreman and so one up the ladder to greener pastures. Hal, being the supervisor, is the second step up.“
As Leona placed the baked ham and sweet potatoes, corn meal muffins and jam on the table, Hal came through the front door.
“Dinner‘s ready, Hal,“ said Leona.
“O. K.,“ said Hal, heading for the bathroom. “I‘ll wash up.“
“He looks kind of sick,“ said Leona. “I feel sorry for him.“
“So do I,“ said Marcie. “Sorry he hasn‘t got more sense.“
“Well, Sis,“ Hal said, he grabbed Marcie‘s
|Chapter 25 - p 203|
arm and headed for the table, “how do you feel today?“
“A lot better than you look, Lambie Pie. Why don‘t you go to bed nights?“
“I am going from now on,“ said Hal, taking half a muffin in one bite.
“Well, I‘ll bet your bed will be surprised to see you so soon if you keep your word,“ retorted Marcie.
Hal reached for another muffin.
“Say, these are dee-licious; who produced them?“
“Always the defense supervisor, aren‘t you? Who do you think made them? I did.“
“You did,“ said Hal. “I can‘t believe it. Honest.“
“No, Marcie didn‘t make them,“ said Jessie, “Leona did.“
“There you go, Mom,“ said Marcie, “George Washington in the female form. That‘s you. And Hal, you needn‘t look at Leona with that calculating expression. If she can cook and has a hope chest, she‘s not for you. She‘s Eddie‘s even if she hasn‘t heard from him for a month. Besides, she‘s not your type. You stick to your She-Wolves.“
Hal looked at Leona with greater interest than he had ever shown before and his gaze brought a becoming blush to her face. “What is this anyway?“ he thought. Hal kept his word about
|Chapter 25 - p 204|
staying home nights for three days. Then one day after Hal handed Leona his lunch pail, he drove away.
Jessie, Tillie, Marcie and Leona with Hal‘s dinner pail in her hand slowly walked up the steps of their house. Jessie unlocked the door and they entered. The dining room was in fair order except for a huge basket of clothes which caught Jessie‘s eye at once.
“Girls, we really ought to iron those clothes, but I am awfully tired. How about you?“
“I am as tired as if I had been working,“ answered Marcie, “let‘s get a lunch and leave the clothes until we have more time.“
“More time,“ snorted Tillie, “what is that? There‘s never time anymore to do anything but eat and sleep and work.“
“Yes, I guess that‘s right,“ agreed Jessie, “but I know that we are all glad to help even if we do gripe a little.“
“Gripe!“ said Marcie. “You don‘t know what griping means. You should have a hundred or more people on your neck every day like I have. A time keeper not only keeps time but he listens to the woes of the section, personal as well as factory. I wrote a poem about it today. Would you folks like to hear it? It will never rival Longfellow‘s ‘Children‘s Hour,‘ but it relieved my mind a bit.“
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“Of course we want to hear it, Marcie,“ said Leona. “Hurry up and read it to us.“
“Well, remember, no meter criticism, please. Just look for the sense in it, if you think there is sense. I called it ‘A Timekeeper‘s Lament.‘ I guess it could be called a ‘Timekeeper‘s Gripe.‘ Listen, everybody:
A TIMEKEEPER‘S LAMENT
Where is my over-time? Look at the taxes,
Now this new tax of twenty percent,
And see, my raise hasn‘t yet come through;
Where is that retroactive money?
So I hear Mary kick and then Joe beef,
“Marcie, that‘s swell,“ said Tillie as the poem was finished. “Just swell, I didn‘t know you could write.“
“Yes,“ said Leona, “Marcie used to write
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poems and things at college; even a college song.“
“I liked that poem, too. Marcie, guess you‘ll be like I have been, always writing stuff, mostly for a personal satisfaction, as mine never pays out,“ said Jessie.
“Pays out? What do you mean? You never send in anything. How can you expect it to pay?“ asked Marcie.
“Well, I sent in that thing on absenteeism, didn‘t I?“
“Yes, you did but most people don‘t want to be criticised. They want praise or someone to push, pull, or just take them gently by the arm, and say, ‘let me help you‘“ siad Marcie.
“Sure, Marcie, you old smoothie. That‘s how you work, isn‘t it?“ asked Leona.
“Well anyway, as you just said, it works.“
“I sure hope that bond ad I saw today works. It was a good one,“ said Tillie.
“Where was it? On one of those billboards out near X----?“
“No dearie. This was a walking, barking, bellowing, and cackling advertisement.“
“What in the world do you mean, Tillie,“ inquired Jessie.
“Just outside X---- today there stood at the curb an old dilapidated, lopsided covered wagon. It was drawn by an ox and a mule. One the ox‘s
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[used to pople]
back was a dog and perched on the dog‘s back, a chicken. They didn‘t mind the crowd one bit. Guess they were used to people. Around the platform of the wagon was strung a barn lantern, tin pails and pans. On the side of the canvas top was a notice that read, ‘If you don‘t buy bonds, you, too, may be like this.‘ Don‘t you girls think that is good?“
“It certainly is good, Tillie,“ agreed Jessie, “and too true. I guess if Hitler or the Japs ever did win this war we wouldn‘t even have an ox nor a mule to hitch a wagon to travel away with, nor anywhere to go.“
“Mom, we don‘t intend to let them win,“ said Marcie. “I guess those people who are always talking of stopping their bonds don‘t mean it. They couldn‘t if they would only think of what it would mean to them personally even if they didn‘t think of the rest of us. The boys that used to carry my school books are now across. Mom, it makes me feel sick.“
“I guess we all better have some of that chow mein with bean sprouts and some iced tea,“ said Jessie, “food builds morale in more than one way.“
“You know I think that people should remember moral is the first five letters in the six letter word, morale. I think people need plenty of good morals to keep up their morale. If people would
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[asked Jessie seeing]
[to cut off,“]
stick to the right they wouldn‘t have so much trouble,“ said Marcie.
“What is all this leading up to my friend?“ asked Leona.
“I don‘t know, only I think there would be less heartache if people were more simple, explained things to children in a direct and truthful manner. Now I want to tell you what I heard today,“ said Marcie.
“Is it a sob story“ asked Jessie, seeing the symptoms on Marcie‘s face.
“Yes,“ said Marcie.
“Aw! for goodness sake,“ said her Mother, “keep it to yourself.“
“I can‘t help it, I have to share it, then maybe I can forget.“
“Well tell us then,“ said Tillie.
“A girl told me today of a young mother in H----- who had two children. The oldest was a girl of three, the baby two months old, a boy. It seems the three-year-old was inquisitive, she watched her mother changing her baby brother.
“‘Mommy,‘ she asked, ‘what‘s that on baby?‘
“Mommy must have been an old fashioned mother for she missed her cue, and immediately the stage was set for tragedy.
“‘Oh, that‘s just something the doctor forgot to cut off,‘ and went to the bathroom for some baby powder
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“The little girl took up a pair of scissors and immediately remedied the doctor‘s oversight.
“The baby screamed. The mother ran back and saw the situation, rushed to the telephone, the doctor wasn‘t in, so the mother grabbed up the paper and ran for the car in the garage. The little three-year-old was forgotten, she ran after her mother to get in the car, and the mother backed the car over the child and killed her. I didn‘t ask how she got to the hospital with the baby, but so far these last three days she has been under sedatives to keep her from losing her mind.
“The baby is going to live, but the little girl is gone, sacrificed to old fashioned modesty.“
“I can‘t see why any mother should be ashamed to say to their daughters, ‘Baby brother is made differently than you, because he is a boy and you are a girl,“ or vice-versa,“ said Tillie.
“Poor woman,“ pitied Jessie, “It is an awful thing to happen. Little children are so often the victims, she just didn‘t stop to think anymore than the woman who locked her little children in her car in a parking lot, for the eight hours she was working.“
“Did they stay there the whole eight hours, Mom?“ asked Leona.
“No, I guess they didn‘t, I heard they cried so hard someone heard and a policeman opened
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[“I was a]
their prison, and that makes me think of you, Marcie, don‘t stay in Hal‘s car in the parking lot waiting for us nights. I can‘t get the murder of that poor girl in the parking lot off my mind.“
“O. K. Mom, I‘ll wait on the corner near the little eating stand.“
Hal worked the next Sunday, so the four girls went in to L. A. to see “Hey Rookie.“
“I loved every minute of that soldier show, ‘Hey Rookie,‘“ stated Tillie as they left the theatre and went toward Hill Street.
“It was a good old funny show and I like to think army life has some fun in it,“ said Leona.
“I‘ll bet lots of new fellows entering the army do feel like those poor rookies did,“ remarked Marcie.
“I enjoyed the songs and music and I even enjoyed sitting up in the balcony that was so steep, I felt like I shouldn‘t lean forward to draw a quick breath or I‘d land below in the orchestra,“ said Jessie.
As they stood at the corner of Hill to take a bus home, Jessie began again, “Are you girls tired?“
“Not too much,“ said Tillie, “what have you in mind?“
“Well,“ answered Jessie, “I‘d like to take a street car out to Angelus Temple and hear Aimee McPherson.“
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“O. K. Mom,“ agreed Leona, “I‘d like to do that too, wouldn‘t you Marcie?“
“Yes, I would, she is quite a person, I‘ve heard.“
A short while later the four left the street car and entered the Temple. It was a big building and the girls could almost imagine themselves in a theatre looking at a stage. It had the same kind of curtains you see at a movie. The band wore beautiful uniforms, some white with gold braid. “Someone told me that Aimee tries to put on a good show to hold her own with the movies and theatres,“ said Tillie.
“Well, maybe that‘s a good idea, people being what they are now, must have entertainment with everything. They even have to be entertained at work while they eat, so why not at church?“ asked Jessie.
“See there, the choir comes down the stairs of the balcony to seats in rows above the stage on each side,“ pointed out Tillie.
“What gowns,“ exclaimed Marcie, “white satin with angel sleeves like a surplice and fastened around the wrist. Big red crosses of satin ribbon on their bosoms.“
“Say, listen to that bad news,“ said Tillie, as one of the men began to announce, “Sister McPherson won‘t be back from her vacation for several weeks.“
The girls listened to an appealing sermon and
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Marcie kept a wary eye on Jessie so she wouldn‘t get out and go up to the mourner‘s bench.
“I mean to go again. I intend to see that woman I‘ve heard and read so much about,“ said Jessie, as they left the Temple and started home.
|Chapter 25 - p|
§26 - Rides
|Chapter 26 - p 213|
As Tillie ran out and took her place in Hal‘s car, she said, “It surely seems Heavenly peaceful to know that a car awaits us at the curb, not with an impatient driver squawking his horn and a couple of passengers with a look of, ‘for the love of mud, why can‘t you hurry?‘ on their faces. A car that starts when we want to start. One that you can almost say belongs in the family, for you surely are one of our family, Hal. You should hear some of the people gripe about their rides.“
“Yes, Tillie, and remember the driver we had after we quit the bus, he was the one and only for us before you came along, Hal,“ said Leona. “He had red hair, that stood up like a rooster‘s comb. I guess one red head just can‘t stand another, for Marcie and he usually fought all the
|Chapter 26 - p 214|
way to work and all the way home again. Tillie, Mom, and I used to be glad when we got out of the car, and not only because of the debates, but he was one of those take a chance drivers, and a fast one, too. Mom would sit on the edge of the back seat and fix an anxious eye on the road ahead.“
“You girls will never know,“ cut in Jessie, “how much will power it took to be a back seat driver.“
“He was a kind of good guy too, as men go,“ Marcie said, “for one thing he was as dependable as Mom and Tillie.“
“You know, Hal,“ explained Leona, “he worked at the same plant Marcie, Tillie and you work. So if either he or we were late, and we were nearly every day, he would take Mom and me about half way up to plant one, and we could trudge the rest of the way on foot, in sun or rain. That furnished Marcie and Don a standing argument on who was to blame today. I think the ratio was about half and half. He is a Russian, who still has a foreign accent and at a loss for expressive English words.“
“You should have heard him one day, Hal,“ contributed Marcie, “It was sometime back when one of the small places near X----- that he patronized was closed for redecoration, all the way over Don was depending on it being open.
|Chapter 26 - p 215|
[plant, “So you‘re]
When he saw the ‘closed‘ sign still on the door, Don‘s red crest fairly quivered with anger as he roared, ‘that bastard place still closed, and I haven‘t had a gum for three days‘.“
“You should have heard him say to one of the men in the plant, ‘So you‘re from that ‘stick of the wood‘,“ added Tillie.
“Do you know,“ said Jessie, “sometimes I miss the thrill of those swift rides to punch the time clock and anxiety I felt as I saw a pedestrian or car only a few inches away, then the wonder and awe I felt as we again missed an accident by a quarter of an inch, or a flick of an eye lash.“
“He was obliging though,“ Leona reminded, “remember how he took you home to get the pass you had forgotten, Marcie?“
“Yes, I remember that, also also how he took you back to get your badge one day. Mom and Tillie never had to bother him.“
“No,“ said Tillie, “the day I forgot my badge I just went down to the identification office and waited in line an hour before I got a temporary badge to wear.“
“Well, you should have gone back after it as I did,“ Jessie said, “that day Leona stayed home because she wasn‘t feeling well. I can still remember the panic I felt just after Marcie, Tillie and Don had left. I felt for my badge, which should have been pinned somewhere in the
|Chapter 26 - p 216|
[women ever pick]
region of my heart, and no metal disc covered with celluloid with my numbers on it was there.
“I looked at a clock over one of the buildings and saw it was twenty minutes to work. I never even thought of going to Identification for a pass, all I could think of was how to get home and back in nineteen minutes, for if you check in on the hour you‘re counted late.
“Across the road filled with cars going to and coming from work, I ran, sometimes I was on the edge of the road, sometimes along the roadside. Finally as a traffic signal stopped the cars, I saw a woman alone, and although I know that a few women never pick up a hitch hiker, especially a woman hitch hiker, I desperately asked her if she was going toward R-----.“
She said she was.
“When I told my pitiful story of a forgotten badge, she took me in. I was lucky going back for only a few cars passed me before a man going to defense work at Huntington Park picked me up; although Plant I was out of his way he took me to the very gates. That incline up to the gates was as deserted as a school room in vacation time. Thanks to two kind hearts, I was only three minutes late. How much time have we today?“ she asked.
“Forty minutes,“ answered Hal, as he speeded up the car to make X----, in order to meet the
|Chapter 26 - p 217|
station wagon that took Jessie and Leona over to Plant I. He hit the long smooth dent in the pavement.
“Whee!“ and Jessie caught her breath, “wonderful! wasn‘t that wonderful, girl?“ asked Jessie delighted, “just like flying; every day now I look for a bump that is delightful, not rough like most bumps. Look, there‘s our red headed boy selling newspapers by the curb.“
The boy was just an ordinary looking boy with the usual freckles. He held a paper in his hand and had a big stack of them at his feet.
Hal slowed up for the stop sign and Tillie read the headlines:
“ALLIES PREPARE FOR A BIG DRIVE“
“Sounds good, doesn‘t it, Tillie?“ asked Jessie.
“Yes,“ said Tillie, “and I feel so happy about it.“
“What did your air-minded husband have to say in his letter today?“ asked Marcie.
“He didn‘t have much to say only he wants me to come and stay with him in Miami until he goes across, so I guess I‘ll terminate one of these days and join him.“
“Oh, Tillie, leave us! how can you? We couldn‘t bear it,“ cried Marcie.
“Yes, that‘s right, we‘d miss you so, Tillie; of course we know that your husband does too,“ said Jessie.
|Chapter 26 - p 218|
[talked if it]
“Our square won‘t be a square anymore, one side will be gone without you,“ mourned Leona.
“Leona, you forget you now have Hal for the fourth side, and anyway, I‘m coming back to you when Sam goes across.“
“You are!“ exclaimed Marcie delightedly, “I am so very glad, but didn‘t you say you were going to terminate?“
“Yes, I did, but I intend to hire in again when I come back. They won‘t give me an absence leave for an indefinite stay.“
“Tillie, do you know,“ said Jessie, “I was just thinking about all the places we have been together and of all the places we have yet to go on that list Marcie and Leona so carefully compiled. It looked like a guide book, for they wrote the names of the places and the reasons we wanted to see them. And oh, Tillie, we have two of the best left. I heard of Griffith Park Observatory back in Wadena, and I wanted to go and thought then that I never would be able to go. Queer how strangely one‘s life can be changed in so short a time. I feel sometimes like a totally different person, only my memories creep up and sit on the foot of my bed nights.“
“Oh, Mom, please,“ said Marcie. “You‘ll be crying again.“
“No, I won‘t,“ said Jessie stoutly, “and there‘s Forest Lawn. You and I have talked of it so of-
|Chapter 26 - p 219|
ten. Sometimes when we go by and I see the beautiful fountain, the hillside, that looks like a smooth, well-kept lawn in spite of the gravestones or urns here and there among the lovely flowers, I can hardly resist going up that hill to see that big mausoleum. People are buried behind the walls there, each behind what looks like a drawer made of marble with a name on each that might be pulled out something like a chest of drawers. And the statue of a small child with big tears in her eyes, one bare foot over the other, the toes clenched hard on the ones beneath, showing the strain and stress of woe almost too great to bear. And Tillie, the ‘Little Church of the Flowers,‘ of movie fame; we must see that together. I want to sit in a pew in the church that‘s built like the one Annie Laurie attended, ‘The Wee Kirk O‘ the Heather.‘ Isn‘t that a wonderful name for a church?“
“Mom, that‘s your Scotch blood talking now,“ said Leona.
“Maybe so, I love being partly Scotch. The Welsh and Irish parts I like too. Of course I shouldn‘t mention the few drops of German blood I have, but I‘m not ashamed of that either. Those old grandparents of my father came here because they wanted to go to a better country than that in which they lived. They wanted to live here and so do I.“
|Chapter 26 - p 220|
“Don‘t forget the Last Supper, Jessie,“ said Tillie. “They say beautiful or magnificent is inadequate to describe the lovely richly stained glass window; as you look, the figures around the table become alive. You almost expect Christ to say to you, ‘Why stand there, My Child? There‘s room at this table for all.‘“
“Tillie, you old lecturer and tear jerker. I am surely glad you are coming back,“ said Marcie with a hug.
“I am glad you are coming back, too, Tillie,“ said Leona, “and here we are at X----. Hurry up, Mom, I see the station wagon waiting for us.“
“Let‘s run, Leona,“ said Jessie, “I hate to make them wait.“
|Chapter 26 - p|
§27 - The Last of the Wolfusses
|Chapter 27 - p 221|
Saturday after work Tillie had lots of news to tell the girls.
“They had Hal up on the office carpet today,“ she said.
“Why?“ asked Leona, “what did he do?“
“It‘s not what he did. It‘s what he didn‘t do that brought this on,“ explained Tillie. “That miserable climbing plant Arlene got mad because he stayed home this week with us. It made her jealous.“
“I can‘t see why she should be jealous of us,“ broke in Marcie, “none of us want him.“
“Yes, but she doesn‘t know that, and she was surely put out to find the second rung of her lad-
|Chapter 27 - p 222|
der seeming to disappear just as she was about to put her foot on it. So she went to the office and told them all. She‘s not the kind of girl who holds back anything. In fact, I think she probably added more than there was. Don‘t let on that I told you. I think they are through. He must have had enough this time.“
But Hal hadn‘t had enough. He was just a man looking for a diamond at the ten cent counter. He looked and he looked. While he was looking he came on Roslyn, she was a married woman with a child. Why she picked Hal as her next kill, the girls couldn‘t guess, when Tillie told them how things were going.
“Hal,“ Roslyn said to him the day she decided he was a better bet than her husband, “I need advice and you are always so kind and ready to help us girls, I knew you‘d surely know what I should do. My husband is lazy. He won‘t work. I have to work here to support Jean and myself and him too, most of the time. He only works in fits and starts. He drinks a great deal and is really unfit to have around. I am nearly crazy trying to decide what to do. I can‘t concentrate on my work anymore. What should I do? Do you think I should get a divorce?“ She strained a few tears through false eyelashes.
“Gee, she‘s pretty and little and pitiful,“ thought Hal as Roslyn‘s lips trembled. “Poor thing, all
|Chapter 27 - p 223|
those burdens on her. She needs protection.“
Roslyn saw Hal‘s expression and knew she was making headway.
“He‘s sorry for me,“ she thought. “That‘s fine. Maybe I‘m a better actress than I thought. Guess I‘ll try Warner‘s studio someday, but just now I must concentrate. I‘ll choke back a sob,“ she thought, “that should finish him.“
It did. Before he knew what he was saying, he was telling her not to feel badly, that naturally, a young, pretty woman shouldn‘t live with a drunkard. Roslyn wondered what her husband, who never took more than three drinks at a time and that not too often, would say to that if he could hear.
“Hal,“ Roslyn asked one day, “Do you know of anyone who can give me a ride home tonight? The man I used to ride with moved away.“
“Of course,“ said Hal, “You can ride home with us, Roslyn,“ forgetting that six in a car makes everyone rather crowded and is very depressing if the six are not congenial.
“But Hal, I live miles beyond your place,“ Roslyn objected faintly, “and gas is so hard to get, isn‘t it?“
“Don‘t worry, I have plenty of gas and I‘d like to take you.“
The only conversation in the car going home was a few polite remarks by Jessie. Marcie and
|Chapter 27 - p 224|
Tillie sat like they were smelling B.O. Leona looked miserable.
When Hal let the four girls out at home he gave Leona his dinner pail as usual.
He called out, “Good-night.“
Only Jessie and Leona answered.
After Hal left, the four girls entered the living room and talked.
Tillie stretched out on the davenport and asked the girls, “Did I forget to tell you what happened last night?“
“What about?“ asked Marcie.
“Why, Roslyn, of course,“ said Tillie.
“You surely did, and don‘t spare the details,“ invited Marcie.
“Well,“ began Tillie, “somehow I knew Roslyn had a date with Hal last night. I felt like slapping her down and telling her to stick to her husband. He‘s probably better than she deserves, anyway,“ said Tillie.
“Sure, I know,“ teased Marcie. “Poor little brother and another of those aircraft She-Wolves. Why not take your little brother out to the woodshed and put him over your knee?“
“Because it wouldn‘t be any use. Neither violence nor talking will do any good. I‘ll just have to wait for his common sense to rescue him.“
“Maybe you‘ll have a long time to wait,“ said Marcie. “How is the affair progressing anyway?
|Chapter 27 - p 225|
Let us in on the chills and thrills, and spills, as they say outside the carnival attractions.“
“Well, if there are any chills and spills in this love affair, let‘s hope Roslyn has them all,“ said Jessie.
Marcie was surprised. “Why, Mom, do you feel like that? I thought you said his ‘outside entertainment‘ was not our business.“
“I know I said that and it isn‘t our business, but I like Hal. He‘s been swell to us, hasn‘t he Leona?“
“Yes,“ said Leona, briefly.
“Now, Tillie, tell us what made you so mad? Don‘t hold out, what did Roslyn do, if anything, besides standing around making eyes at Hal?“
“Why, Marcie,“ said Leona, “she couldn‘t make eyes at Hal yesterday. Don‘t you remember he had the day off? He just took us to work to be kind.“
“Sure, I remember, and I also remember how dressed up he was. Looked like a party was on to me. On with the story, Tillie.“
“Well, yesterday when Roslyn came in to work I felt right away that she wasn‘t going to stay long. The first thing I noticed was her slacks. Not the usual blue overall stuff with no S. A., but a silk slack suit in a dusty rose shade. Heelless, topless shoes, south of the border nylon stockings, and a gardenia in that black stuff I‘d like to pull.“
|Chapter 27 - p 226|
[“Ah!“ I thought, “]
[party gown. Now]
[“may I stock]
[will go away.‘]
“I‘ll bet she looked cute,“ said Marcie, “for even though I hate her insides and outsides I do think she‘s pretty. Such a beautiful creamy complexion and large wistful, I should say wishful, eyes.“
“Swell, Marcie, a good description, but don‘t try to describe her morals for she hasn‘t any. Where was I? Oh yes, she entered looking like a movie queen, put a hand to her head, a sort of dazed expression on her face, and tottered a few steps, something in the manner of a star in silent movies, who was about to faint, did, a quarter of a century ago.
“‘Ah!‘ I thought, ‘She has set the stage. Act I, Scene 1. The heroine is ill in a going to a party gown.‘ Now what? Poor thing. See there, she totters over to Dick, who took Hal‘s place yesterday. She speaks, ‘May I stock parts for a while, Dick? I feel ill, but probably it will go away.“ Her voice is a mere whisper. Immediately there is masculine concern, for she‘s pretty, isn‘t she?
“‘Of course you can, Roslyn, but why don‘t you go to first aid?‘ worried Dick.
“‘Maybe I will have to later on, but I will try to stick it out,‘ she said in an I‘d die for my country tone of voice.
“After she had stacked about a dozen parts she felt worse, I knew she had a catch in her side. I could tell because she took off her dirty gloves
|Chapter 27 - p 227|
and pressed the pain in her side with a clenched hand. It must have been a terrific pain, for away she went to first aid.
“Act I, Scene 2: She returned from first aid with pills to take now and then, and although she went to the water fountain for a drink to help them down, I feel sure those pills are resting comfortable in a trash barrel.
“‘The pills don‘t do a bit of good,‘ she told us. And she did look woefully pale without any of her usual makeup on.
“‘I guess I‘ll have to go home after all,‘ she told, and exit Roslyn.
“No doubt the thought of a bed to lie down on until this sickness passed away quickened her footsteps, for before she got to the door she was practically running. It took one hour and twenty minutes for this play.“
“What about Scene 3?“ asked Marcie.
“Use your imagination, child, use your imagination,“ said Tillie.
“I think Hal will wake up soon,“ said Jessie. “Surely he will be able to see through her.“
“Well, he better hurry up or one of these fine days he will awaken to find he‘s married and has a ready made family,“ said marcie.
“Let‘s let them rest for awhile,“ said Jessie.
“Tillie,“ said Jessie, “I don‘t suppose you will be going out to X----- tomorrow with us as you
|Chapter 27 - p 228|
[just for fun.]
terminated today. But why don‘t you ride with us tomorrow just for fun? I hate to go without you.“
“I might as well, as I really should go to the airport and see if I can get transportation to Miami, although I don‘t expect to.“
“Say Tillie, tell me all about how one goes about terminating, not that I plan on doing it, but I‘d like to know what you had to go through. Was it as complicated as entering?“
“Not quite, Jessie, it didn‘t take so long, but although it wasn‘t such an anxious ‘I wonder if I shall pass time,‘ it was sad.
“Quite a few girls terminated tonight beside myself. The routine beginning three days earlier is simple. Your supervisor takes you to the office where a pleasant young woman asks your reason for leaving. Then you are taken to Personnel for an interview. The woman counselor is next on the list, where, if you wish, you may say anything and everything in confidence. My interview was short and also pleasant there.
“Everything you do on that particular day you think, ‘This is the last time.‘ The last time I shall ever rush out to lunch and race back, my food lodged half or three-quarters of the way along the alimentary tract to proceed on its journey later when I‘ve caught my breath back on the job. The last time I shall pause on rest period
|Chapter 27 - p 229|
[“‘The last time]
and chat with co-workers, the last time I‘ll ever climb the steps to talk with Rose.
“The last time I‘ll cut my finger on sharp-edged parts, and then just before second rest period you hear your name called on the P.A. You go to the office for the last time, get your release papers, go to the tool crib and lay your dirty apron on the counter.
“One of the girls slaps a clean one in its place smiling, and you say, ‘No, no, I‘m leaving,‘ turning in the dirty one.
“‘What, you, too?‘
“You say goodbye and they tell you to turn in your tool checks outside at the identification window where you also leave your badge, pass and early entrance pass.
“A very funny thing happened to me. After this process, shedding myself of the badge, pass and keys, the girl at the window said, ‘Now go past the guard, there on out to Personnel for you termination papers and check.‘ I had left my sweater inside, so I simply walked back past the guard, inside the plant, made my adieus, gathered up my belongings: the sweater, a little memory book, and a vase of flowers one of the girls had brought that day, and proceeded along my usual exit, a gate on the opposite side of the plant from the Identification exit.
“The guard I pass every night saw me coming
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‘Where are you going?‘
“‘I‘m terminating tonight.‘
“‘Have you been ot Identification?‘
“‘Oh, yes,‘ and I began clawing in my purse showing him the envelope containing all necessary release papers and my check.
“‘How did you get back inside?‘ he asked.
“‘Why, I just walked in. I hadn‘t said goodbye to anybody and I had to get my sweater.‘
“Two other guards standing near and my guard bent double laughing.
“‘What is the joke?‘ I asked.
“‘Why, you weren‘t supposed to come back inside,‘ they told me.
“‘How did you get past the guard?‘
“‘No trouble at all,‘ I said. ‘I just simply walked past.‘
“They laughed again and I said, ‘Do you want to examine my jug here?‘ indicating the vase holding the flowers, ‘so you‘ll know I‘m anti-Nazi?‘
“‘No, no,‘ he gave me a good-natured shove and I was outside finally, but not forever, for I am coming back after Sam goes, if the war lasts that long.
“I bought coffee at the little stand where it was strangely quiet and unrushed, sat on the bench for a while looking at the stars and reflecting about my year and three months at X-----.“
|Chapter 27 - p 231|
[enjoyed “US“ immensely]
[who ever they]
“There were many things I would undo if I could, many things I would unsay. I had failed in many ways, but being as I am, having to do it all over again, no doubt I‘d do the same.
“The war is not yet won, difficulties and trials lie ahead for us all. But this I know, those problems and trials will be met with better understanding and fortitude for my fifteen months in the School of Life at X-----.“
“So that is the way it ends, Tillie, only of course if the war keeps on and you can start at the beginning again, will you try for the same job again?“
“I haven‘t thought of it, Jessie, I live so much in the present these days. The future -- who knows? The past only brings me tears, but I‘ve enjoyed ‘US‘ immensely. I like us together. We‘ve had fun, lots of it, and I hope we will again.“
“So do I, Tillie,“ said Marcie.
“Let‘s prepare for bed, girls, I wonder who was our ‘day coach‘ of Highway Inn these days,“ said Jessie.
“Oh, some poor sleepless wretch, no doubt,“ said Leona, “but I know whoever may be, they will never be in hot water. Good night, my ladies, see you in time for work tomorrow.“
|Chapter 27 - p|
§28 - Exit Roslyn
|Chapter 28 - p 232|
Roslyn was a fast worker. She hadn‘t been married and wheedled everything she could get out of a husband for nothing. She had learned how to say the right things at the right time and cover it all with a thick coating of flattery, sweetened with the right amount of concern, and flavored with kisses. They were engaged. Engaged to one man and still married to another. Roslyn knew how to have her cake and eat it, too.
But Roslyn figured without Hal‘s “family,“ Marcie, Tillie, Mom and Leona. She didn‘t really know how attached Has was to them until that night she began, “When are the folks moving, Hal?“
“Folks, what folks,“ he asked.
“Why, that family of females who live in your house,“ she answered.
Now Hal hadn‘t thought of the family moving out when he decided to marry Roslyn. Somehow he had thought only of Roslyn moving in with them.
“Why, Roslyn, they can‘t move,“ answered Hal. “There are no houses.“
He thought of how the girls had told him that
|Chapter 28 - p 233|
[I can‘t stand]
they had even prayed for a house. He couldn‘t tell them they had to find a place. Why, they might even have to take a little tucked up apartment again. There was plenty of room for six in his big house. They could and would all live together.
But Roslyn didn‘t intend to share her kitchen or bath with four other women, so she said, “Oh Hal, you know that‘s out. No five women can eat, sleep, work, and live together without a fuss.“
“They do,“ said Hal, remembering how each shared the duties of the house equally and with no bickering.
“Now, Hal, don‘t be stupid,“ said Roslyn, forgetting her rule, always a compliment. “I can‘t stand that woman you call Mom. She is too sad and I have seen her in tears when she thinks no one is looking. She depresses me.“
“I like Mom,“ said Hal stubbornly. “She is good.“
“Well, there‘s Tillie, then. What can you say for her?“ asked Roslyn.
“Why, Tillie‘s one of the best big sisters a fellow ever had. I enjoy her witty conversation more than a show.“
“Oh, you do, well, there‘s that red headed, red tempered Marcie. Manages all of you like a stage manager. You would surely be tickled to be rid
|Chapter 28 - p 234|
of her, wouldn‘t you?“
“No,“ said Hal stoutly. “She‘s O.K. I like to hear her lecture. She is kind and tender hearted, even if she is temperamental.“
“Temperamental! I‘ll say she is, and that non-entity Leona. A blonde dumbbell if ever there was one. It surely proves the saying, beautiful but dumb.“
“That‘s enough, that‘s enough!“ shouted Hal.
The remark about Leona was the last straw. Some way he couldn‘t take it. “They are my family, see, and they aren‘t moving out. If you don‘t want to live with us, then say so.“
Roslyn forgot to be cautious. “I‘ll say so. Sure I‘ll say so. I wouldn‘t move in with them if I had to go back to my husband. Let me out right here, you big fool, and go home to your family.“
To Roslyn‘s astonishment, he drove up to the curb, got out, took her arm, and helped her out of the car. “Goodbye,“ he said, and drove away.
|Chapter 28 - p|
§29 - Love and War
|Chapter 29 - p 235|
Leona looked white and drawn as she measured the coffee into the red percolator the next morning. Marcie, who was supposedly setting the breakfast table, was watching her with concern.
“What‘s the matter, Leona?“ asked Marcie. “Are you ill?“
“No,“ answered Leona.
“Are you feeling bad because you haven‘t
|Chapter 29 - p 236|
heard from Eddie?“ Marcie kept on.
“No, I don‘t expect to hear from Eddie. I wrote and told him I didn‘t love him. That I hoped he‘d find some nice girl. I said there was no use writing to me any more. My mind was made up. I was going back to the U. with you. He answered and said that he respected me for telling him. That‘s all.“
“Well, quite enough, too. Poor Eddie to be disposed of so easily, but you are right. It wouldn‘t be fair to let him think you would be here loving and waiting for him. I admire you for your courage, and wonder if I could have done that.“
Marcie couldn‘t keep the good news so that day at dinner, she told the rest of the family. “Leona‘s going to sell her hope chest and go back to the University with me. Isn‘t that swell?“
Everyone looked interested and Jessie asked, “Why, Leona, have you really broken with Eddie?“
“Yes,“ answered Leona briefly.
“Now, she‘s showing brains,“ stated Marcie. “It‘s always nicer to teach children their A B C‘s than to wipe their noses, not to mention the kowtowing a woman has to do to keep a husband satisfied, and not running after first this woman and that, like a stray dog.“
|Chapter 29 - p 237|
“Oh, yes,“ said Tillie, with her tongue in her cheek. “I saw you mail that letter to Art at the Great Lakes Training Station. There‘s something about a sailor that a soldier hasn‘t got, eh?“
“Say, listen, Tillie,“ remonstrated Marcie. “That was a friendly letter. It‘s a duty.“
“Sure, and a very pleasant duty, too, eh?“
“Don‘t you get any foolish ideas that I care about any man,“ commanded Marcie.
“I won‘t,“ said Tillie. “I‘m content to wait until after the war. We shall see then.“
After dinner Hal found Leona alone in the kitchen washing the dishes and asked, “Where is all the help?“
“Oh, Marcie and Tillie are downtown shopping and Mom‘s in her room with a sick headache,“ answered Leona.
“How about me wiping the dishes, then?“ asked Hal.
“You needn‘t, Hal,“ said Leona, “I don‘t mind doing them alone one bit.“
“But I‘d like to, Honey,“ he said.
Leona looked up in surprise. Hal never was sentimental, always brotherly in attitude.
“All right,“ she capitulated. “There are dish towels on the rock.“
Hal took the tea towel with the blue and yellow cross stitches on it and wrapped it around
|Chapter 29 - p 238|
a cup, as he said, “So, it‘s not Eddie, anymore. Have you found someone nicer at Plant I?“
“No,“ said Leona simply.
“I‘m glad,“ said Hal.
“Why are you?“ asked Leona.
“Because now, I can ask you for a date. You‘ll never know how I‘ve wanted to ask before but knowing how good and true you are I tried to be right, too. You aren‘t like the girls at X-----, looking for all they can get from a man. You‘re different.“
“Well, it‘s certainly taken you long enough to find that you,“ said Leona.
“I knew it all along,“ said Hal, “but you had Eddie and I just couldn‘t bear to sit around and watch you write letter to him.“
“I haven‘t written Eddie for a month,“ said Leona.
“Well, I wouldn‘t know that would I? Here is a pitcher you‘ve forgotten.“ Leona reached sudsy hands to grasp the pitcher and it fell, Crash!!! Right between the two outstretched hands.
“Oh, Hal, Mom‘s beautiful cut glass pitcher from Minnesota. I‘ll never forgive myself,“ and began to cry.
“Don‘t cry, Leona, sweet,“ said Hal, and placed an arm about her shoulders. “I‘ll take the pieces downtown right away and match
|Chapter 29 - p 239|
it as well as I can. Don‘t cry, Honey. Here let Hal dry your eyes,“ and he began to dab at Leona‘s eyes with the dish towel.
“Oh, Hal, for goodness sake. That‘s a tea towel, not a hankie.“
“Well, I know a better way to dry tears than either tea towels or hankies. Here, let me show you,“ and he took her in his arms and kissed her cheeks, not caring when he missed the tears and found dry places.
“Marry me, Honey?“ he asked.
“When?“ he asked.
“Oh, I don‘t know. We are so happy this way, especially as you don‘t know when you may be called to service.“
“Well, let‘s get married anyway and you can just stay home and keep house,“ said Hal.
“I won‘t,“ said Leona with spirit. “I have my job in defense and I am going to work at it. There will be plenty of time for staying home after we have won the war. Now, I feel it‘s all out and all together for defense.“
“Ah, Honey, I am old-fashioned. I want my wife at home,“ said Hal.
“Well, you‘ll have her at home,“ answered Leona, “not only at home, when you are there, but even with you going to work.“
“I don‘t like it though, but let‘s forget it for
|Chapter 29 - p 240|
now. I‘ll convince you later. Just now, let‘s tell Mom and, say,“ he said, “you better take Marcie away somewhere to tell her. I‘d rather try to take away a lion‘s cub.“
As Jessie took her place in the back seat of the car, she scanned the four faces turned her way. Hal‘s and Leona‘s faces showed what some call love‘s young dream, and Jessie thought “Leona is a homebody at heart and it is right and fitting that she should make a home and raise lovely children.“ Leona loved children as Jessie knew by her desire to touch any small child nearby.
Tillie looked happy and occupied. No doubt in her mind she was busily packing her bags already for Miami, to stay near her husband until he had to go across.
Marcie‘s was the one gloomy face in the car. Jessie couldn‘t see her own which was nearly as cheerless.
Jessie thought, “Soon, there will be only two of us again. Marcie and me. How lonely and miserable we will be without Leona and Tillie.“ But she thought, “I mustn‘t show my feeling. I must pretend, for Marcie‘s sake, that I am happy to have her all to myself again. Maybe she can stop working and go back to the University and I can take business training, so I can be content, too, besides Tillie will be back some-
|Chapter 29 - p 241|
The “wonderful bump“ came just then. That‘s what Jessie called the bump on the road to work. Hal always hit the bump at the right rate of speed to make her feel the exhilaration of a roller coaster with none of the fear. A sort of leaving the earth freedom from the everyday world.
When she hit the cushions again, she realized they were half way to work, and soon would be passing the corner where the little red-headed newsboy always stood with his papers. They always read the headlines as she held out the paper in his hand. So, somtimes Marcie gave the boy a dime because she said, “We ready your papers every day.“
“There‘s Red,“ said Hal. “Now for the daily newspaper.“
“For goodness sake,“ said Leona. “He‘s crying. What is wrong with him? Let‘s stop and ask.“
The tears streaked his little freckled face but he held the paper out as usual.
We read the headlines, “JAPS SINK SIX WARSHIPS IN HOME WATERS“, and names of the boats were printed below with the gloating statement to the effect that it wouldn‘t be long until they could land on the mainland. Alaska they hinted.
|Chapter 29 - p 242|
[are a big]
“Look at that,“ the boy burst out excitedly, “those dirty old Japs, I wish Pa and Ma would let me go, I‘d show them. I will anyway, in a few more years, I bet‘cha.“
“Don‘t feel badly, Red,“ comforted Hal, “they are just bluffing. That‘s what they are, a big a noise. They‘ll never get here, don‘t worry!“
“Wotta the Hell, do you think I am?“ Red demanded hotly. “I ain‘t worry about myself. It‘s my brothers, Ted and Johnnie; they were on them ships. Been sailors since Pearl Harbor,“ he stated proudly. “Boy, you shoulda seen ‘em in their uniforms, they sure did look swell. Johnnie sent me a knife from Buna once, and Ted‘ll give me his gun when I get old enough to shoot it. They sure are swell brothers.“ Then memory hit him a blow and the tears ran down his face in a steady stream, dripping from the tip of his nose. “Damn them old Japs! Damn them all to hell!“
“Don‘t cry, Red,“ said Hal again, “maybe they weren‘t on the ships, maybe they were on shore leave. Cheer up, fellow, we‘ll tend to those back stabbers.“
Red brightened, “I‘ll bet you will too, going into the Navy, I‘ll betcha, ain‘t you?“
“Hal,“ reminded Leona, “we must hurry, or we‘ll be late to work.“
“I‘ll bet you all work out at them defense
|Chapter 29 - p 243|
[war is on.‘]
[Punching The Clock]
plants, don‘t you? I wish I could get a job there and help, too. Do you think I could? I‘m a good worker. I made lots of airplanes at school and good ones, too.“
The five people looked at the happy boy of ten who wanted a defense job to help win the war.
Leona and Marcie looked unhappy and Jessie and Tillie were dissolved in tears. Hal, being a man, had to keep up the family‘s morale, so he said, “Well, Red, you just let us big folks attend to this, you do your job, sell your papers, go to school and some day you can tell the world just what you think of war.“
“Come on, girl, I guess we‘ll either have to be late, or I‘ll get a ticket for speeding.“
“Leona,“ began Hal, when the car started again on the way, “I guess you‘re right about working in defense, while the war is on.
“I am going down to enlist tomorrow. I don‘t care if I have a deferment, I‘ve got to go. You‘ll wait for me, honey, won‘t you?
“Stay in our little house, you four, and drive my car to work and back. You, Mom, Tillie and Marcie can keep Punching the Clock for Freedom while I am over there fighting for it!“
|Chapter 29 - p|