Reviewing a Lifetime
(A Psychotherapist's Nightmare)
by John D. Sedory

Copyright©2014 by Daniel B. Sedory, Editor. All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 23
A New Life

 

Naysayers

    That December 27th [1946] date was a Friday, not the traditional Saturday, weddings were usually held on. This had something to do with the policy of the Reformed church regarding working late on a Saturday evening to clean up from a large wedding and banquet.

    Eleanor's pastor became very ill and could not perform the ceremony, so my Lutheran pastor (Lois' father) was called upon to perform the wedding. How that ever happened, I don't know. It was contrary to the tradition of both churches to have a pastor from another denomination performing a wedding. What's more, I had some relatives deeply steeped in the Lutheran faith who frowned on a Lutheran pastor marrying us in a Reformed church at all (they were from Missouri Synod, Lutheran churches). One uncle did let the pastor know how he erred!

    That particular ridicule carried on into years that followed by hard feelings and resentment. What a shame. As though doing it the "right way" was going to make or break this marriage. There were relatives on both sides who agreed this thing would not last—"not even six months!" It was "too quick," "too unprofessionally handled," and the two participants were of "different denominations!"

    Since my Lutheran pastor married us, and his usual weddings would be held on a Saturday, our marriage license rather than showing our wedding date of December 27th, shows December 28th[1] (a Saturday). We never bothered to have it changed to the 27th, the actual wedding date. I'm relating this just in case someone wants to challenge the legitimacy of the wedding. Ha!

The Wedding

    Yes, it seems strange to many, but we were married between two large Christmas trees, fully lit and decorated. We did have the conventional flowers usually a part of normal weddings—whatever was available at that season. I know we had carnations mainly.

    Eleanor's girlfriend Anne was her matron of honor, and my sister Marie, and brothers Phil and Ed were in the party—Phil being my best man. There weren't too many outsiders in that party, though a few. Oh, John Mednansky was also in the party (later became a brother-in-law), as was Sophie Noorlag, Eleanor's friend.

    When at the studio for pictures (after the wedding) I was again reminded by the photographer of my nose. He made some crack about not standing to the side too much as I'd block someone out. He, in my book, was not too sharp a business man. After all, I'd suffered indignity and embarrassment on that issue all my life, and I didn't need this guy to remind me of something I already knew.

    A couple of the guys who worked with me at the Western attended the wedding and reception, but frankly they were disappointed in the fact there were no alcoholic beverages to be had. As a matter of fact, I was also embarrassed by the type of food offered at the wedding, for it was really nothing more than a buffet type thing, not a real "sit-down" dinner. But who was I to argue with my father-in-law's pocketbook—relatives from out of town or not!


Left to Right: John Mednansky, Marie Sedory, John (our Author) and Eleanor, Anne Hoeksema, Phil Sedory, Sophie Noorlag and Ed Sedory.

Our First Auto

    Maybe a week or two before the wedding (maybe more) Eleanor and I purchased her grandfather's 1935 Plymouth, a four door which seemed to be in pretty decent shape mechanically and in appearance. I don't recall what the price was, but it had to be quite reasonable, or we'd not have been able to afford it. So this was our transportation for the planned honeymoon.

The Honeymoon

    Some time prior to the wedding Eleanor and I had shopped around for a place to go on our honeymoon. How we came across the place we did, I'm not sure; but I do know it was a fantastic place in the northwestern part of Illinois called White Pines Forest State Park. Our reservation was placed well in advance.

    For the late night—of what was left of it after all the guests had left and the wedding gifts were sorted and tagged as to who gave what—place to stay on our way to White Pines Forest State Park, I'd reserved a room in a fancy Oak Park hotel. It was early a.m. before we arrived. Eleanor was quite surprised I'd have spent that amount of money on such a fancy place, and I guess I just wanted it to be the best for her.

    Well, as I suppose happens on many of the planned wedding days, the "visitor"[2] came that very day of the wedding. That made for an awkward first night together, though maybe more appropriate than I'd figured. You see, Eleanor was still rather shy about allowing me to see her in her "altogether," even closing the bathroom door as she used it. And the way it turned out, the late hour and all, it was for the best in the long run. I didn't want to appear as one who'd captured someone and who would now take advantage of that person. My image hadn't changed much as to making "moves" anyway. And I wasn't going to change now.

Not alone anymore

    Under way the next morning (not too early) for White Pines, it began snowing lightly, and by the time we'd traveled forty or fifty miles, I had to stop to try installing the tire chains to maintain traction. It was now that Eleanor was to learn I had a bad temper and used language not fit to be heard any time, let alone on a honeymoon. Eleanor claims this happened after we got to White Pines Park.

    It was getting colder as it snowed, and I hadn't properly prepared for that kind of weather; so my hands froze as I tried installing those chains. I did rather surprise myself when I found I began using some [profane words] while dealing with those chains. I properly apologized for displaying the bad temper, and I hoped I hadn't made Eleanor sorry she decided to marry me. After all, the delay and discomfort were minute compared with the two weeks which lay ahead.

Winter Wonderland

    After reaching White Pines (and they really were white by now), we checked in as required and were taken to our cabin. It had a fire place, a bedroom and a bath. I think there may have also been facilities for cooking if one wished to use them; but we'd determined we'd be eating at the cafeteria all the while there (a week, as I recall).

    Upon awakening that next a.m., we found the snows had been falling all night long, and the pine boughs sagged beautifully, as though the snow had been deliberately placed to cause such perfect symmetry and displacement. The Lord had blessed us with the most picturesque snowscape we could have wished for.

    The dining room was large and attractive, and the waitresses were very nice and congenial. Our big thing there was to tip them by placing coins under every piece of table setting (sort of "hide and seek"), and it got to be the talk of the group (we never were close with a dollar, even then). The meals were great, too!

    We hiked all over the park, dressed in warm, heavy clothing and gloves (we stopped and shopped for proper apparel after the chains deal). We also took rides all over the area, visiting the small towns, stopping at a Sunday church service that Sunday a.m. It was breathtaking!

Our Auto in Freezing Weather

    One night the temperature reached something like 35 degrees below zero. At breakfast learned many cars wouldn't start, even those which were newer and fancier than ours. So we didn't know what to expect when trying ours.

    I held my breath as I turned the key in the ignition and stepped on the starter button. To our great surprise, the engine popped right off and began running. Even the work crew at the park garage seemed surprised at that!

    The car had a stick shift, so I slid (with difficulty) the stick into first gear. Nothing happened as I released the clutch. Finally, one of the garage men from the park suggested they push the car into their heated garage (a huge one) to look it over. As we began pushing, we noticed the wheels were sliding, but they didn't turn. The oil and grease had frozen solidly! We had a four-wheeled sled!

    After a time of thawing out, the wheels finally began to turn. Everything had really frozen stiff. At least it ran, and that's more than many others did.

Visiting Streator Relatives

    Our glorious honeymoon at White Pines over, we'd planned to drive along the Rock River to the Moline area, and then to head southeast toward La Salle, Illinois. From there we planned to head straight south a short distance to Streator, my town of birth.

    Eleanor was not prepared to experience the kind of red carpet treatment we'd be getting from Baba and Dzedo, where we spent a couple or few nights. The meals I'd told her of, she'd now be introduced to herself. She'd get to see what it was like to sleep under one of those feather-filled comforters called something like "perrinahs" [peřina] in Slovak[3]. They are just out of this world! Maybe the most difficult time she had was trying to understand the mixed English and the talking which sounded to her like "yelling." It just was the Slovak way, and I was quite accustomed to it. But Eleanor loved every moment of that stay with my grandparents, also visiting other relatives there in town.

Living with the In-Laws

    When we got back to the "in-law's" place, we had a lot to talk about of our winter wonderland honeymoon at White Pines and at Streator with my grandparents. We had prearranged to stay with Eleanor's folks until we found something more permanent, so this was temporarily our home. I, of course, felt uneasy living there, as I felt like a fifth wheel. But beggars can't be choosers, so I tried making the best of it.

Learning to sell Autoparts

    Right after the honeymoon ended, I went back to the Western and gave a week or two notice of termination of employment. My father-in-law and I had agreed on what wage he could afford to pay me—which was not very much compared with what I earned at the Western Electric Company. I'd received a certificate for completing five years employment at the Western, and I still have that certificate.

    The wholesale auto parts business was foreign to me except for ordinary parts and chemicals, etc. But I soon learned there was more to the business than I'd ever thought existed. A guy came in one day when the father-in-law was not in. He asked for a "wiring harness" for a given make and year of auto. I thought the guy was pulling my leg, but I soon found he was quite serious about it. I stumbled around, finally admitting I had no idea of where to even try looking for one. Later (I'll call my father-in-law the Boss from here on) the Boss came in and I explained what took place. He laughed and went on to explain what a wiring harness was, but he actually never carried them (too many different ones for too many different kinds of cars).

    I then began an extensive study of the many catalogs and locations in the store of those things we did carry.

    There was never a slow moment in my work day, as the automotive machine shop kept me busy fitting pins (attaching pistons and rods), grinding valves, seating heads, etcetera. I was learning a lot for a kid who knew none of this before.

    The Boss' store was on North Avenue on Chicago's near north side, just west of Central Avenue near the 5800 West block. Next door was a Chinese Laundry, a place which had enough going on to almost write another book on it. We were just up the street from North and Menard Avenues.

Transmission Troubles

    I had trouble with the Plymouth's transmission after a while, and the Boss told me I should take the Chilton Manual Home (one of those step-by-step manuals showing each part of everything in a car—by year and model) to study it. I read the part about the transmission over and over, and I figured I had it pretty well figured out. So one day I began the disassembly in my folk's back yard on Austin Blvd. near 31st Street.

    When everything had been taken apart, it was easily noticeable that two of the gears (sliding gears) had teeth worn off and were in need of replacement. The Boss ordered them, and I was ready for the reassembly. The hardest part of the whole job was to try keeping the roller bearings from falling off around the shafts. I'd get them all in (with my kid brother Ed's help) place and run the shaft through, and off they'd come again. This happened time and again!

    Finally the day came when all was together again with no parts left over. I was so sure everything was going to be perfect, I even reassembled the floor boards, shift lever, etc.

    I had the car parked toward the two car garage at the back of the driveway. I put the lever in reverse and began letting out the clutch slowly. To my great surprise—if not shock—I began going forward! Almost hit the garage door! It was like getting on an elevator expecting to go up and finding yourself suddenly going down. Your whole body was adjusted for one direction's movement, but everything went just the opposite way.

    Everyone of the family had been watching, and though they felt bad about what happened, they nearly burst their seams laughing themselves to tears.

    As it turned out, I'm not sure if I'd reversed the first/reverse gears on the shaft, or if I'd installed the "selector" in backwards. Whatever it was, I finally figured it out. And two more weeks of part time "mechanics" found the problem solved and the car working fine once again.

We Move to Stickney

    That first year had been trying because of the fact I lived with and worked with my in-laws for several months. It seemed my wife never did anything which my father-in-law thought worthy of any wage at their house to reduce the boarding costs. He once told me she just "piddled" away at things. And my mother-in-law and I agreed to disagree on most everything. So the situation had become less than pleasant.

    [So,] on August 27, 1947, Eleanor and I left my "in-laws" to move into the old country house where my folks lived for many years [on the land owned by] the Sanitary District of Chicago for next to no rent cost, though it did mean trying to scrounge up enough furniture to make it livable. That did take some of the pressure off that part of it, anyway. (Note: The house was still being leased by my folks even though they weren't living there at that time.)

Hernia

    In the fall of 1947 I'd lifted something at the store which gave me a sore groin strain (I thought), but the pulling feeling didn't go away. Soon an egg-shaped bump appeared, and further checking proved it to be a hernia. I was advised not to lift anything over about 20 pounds or so.

    Since I had no hospitalization coverage, I entered the Veteran's Administration Hospital, Hines, Illinois (just a few suburbs to the west of where we lived and a bit north). When I checked in I'd just been married about ten months (practically a newlywed yet), and I dreaded being without my wife for that long and leaving her alone out there in the 'sticks'. But it had to be done.

    What I thought might be a week or two off work turned out to be a month's stay there. They were in no hurry for anything! And I'll show what I mean by that.

    My day of surgery was finally scheduled, and I'd been without solid food for a day, having had my innards "flushed" thoroughly. I was taken up to the surgery floor and wheeled into the operating room toward the latter part of the day. I recall seeing the surgeon looking at his watch and declaring, "It's too late today to start; bring him back tomorrow!" That meant another day without food—no big deal to them!

    My anesthesia for whatever reason turned out to be a spinal injection. The twisting around one does for this while on hands and knees is not pleasant in itself, let alone for the embarrassment. But once injected (I never knew then how dangerous a spinal can be!), there is no feeling below the neck. Actually, it's even impossible to feel one's lungs drawing oxygen, and it feels as though you must by dying by not being able to feel the breathing process.

    A large metal reflector hung high above, so I could see some of what was going on; but right in front of me (on my chest) was a raised sort of hood to prevent actual, close viewing of the step-by-step surgery.

    Wheeled back to my ward (there must have been 30 guys in it), I was later treated to food. But it wasn't long afterward I learned the easy part was over. The deadened areas became alive with pain! This was not to be a cake walk!

    Little did I know that for a year after that spinal anesthetic was administered I'd be living with a backache that wouldn't quit. We were told this was not uncommon for that procedure.

We Both Change Jobs

    A whole month had passed, I was home nursing a nightly backache, and it was time to consider working again. I'd been advised not to lift any heavy weights for weeks to come, and that in a way left out the job I'd had with the Boss. But we did talk of the possibility. That's all it was, however, for the concluding statement from the Boss was, "But if you do come back, you'll have to get along with Erana" (my mother-in-law). I told him I'd accept no job on those kinds of terms, as I saw no connection between my performance on the job and what went on between her and me. And that was the end of my early automotive career.

    When we married, Eleanor had been working at Dietz, a Christian publishing company located in downtown Chicago. She was there until the end of March of 1947. From then until the end of October of 1947, she was unemployed—but now there were two of us in that boat. Expenses with no income didn't work too well. My Honey did get a job at Neisner's (the 5 cents to a dollar store) as a clerk, and I went into real estate sales for John 0. Sykora Realtors, in Cicero, Illinois, the first of November of '47. Trouble is that was strictly a commission job.

    We'd begun buying some furniture for the old house [on] the Sanitary District [land], so when we had that dry period of no income, it was rough. Eleanor's jobs helped keep us eating at least, though mine only led to expenses trying to sell properties. Sykora finally did put me on a "draw against commission" which helped keep me from spending money I wasn't earning. He only did that because I'd had something like five or six pending sales (most were to try to find lenders who'd accept the financial status of the potential buyers).

    One time I recall that Mr. Sykora sent me to a bank with five $5,000.00 bills ($25,000.00) in cash. What he was trying to prove, I don't know. I do recall it scared the daylights out of me that I'd be held up along the way to the bank.

    Mr. Sykora told me I had to act as though I had money, and I'd be more successful in the business. He suggested the first thing I was to do was to find a nice clean car to show people around in. So I went out and bought a sharp 1941 Ford 2 door sedan somewhere in Chicago. I remember it so well for an unfortunate reason.

    On the way home I was traveling down West 26th Street. Toward the west side of the city, the road jogged a bit, and there was a rather wide sweep to allow for the streetcars to make the swing. In that turn I became involved with a little scrape with another guy who'd gotten his wheels into the rut of the tracks. Not knowing any better, I let this guy talk me into feeling it was my fault. So that was already a bad start with my new car (used, actually).

    Seeing my draws weren't enough together with Eleanor's earnings to properly make a go of it, I began looking around for a change again. And how I came upon the one I did, I'll never know.

Kansas City

    I was eligible for schooling on the G.I. Bill and had never used the benefit. I heard of this airline training school in Kansas City, Missouri, where one could learn to be a station agent for an airline and be paid to attend school. So I wrote to them and got all the data, eventually filling out an application and mailing it in to them. And, of course, they accepted me for schooling (they'd make no money without getting students).

    My brother Ed had married in May of 1948; Eleanor was working at Midland Pipe and Supply in Cicero; I was getting ready to go to Kansas City for schooling. It all worked out, for Eleanor was let go at Midland Pipe, and Ed and his wife Eve agreed to take over our furniture payments and the house, too. So that left us off the hook with no ties left behind and no debts to worry about.

    [Editor's Note: Quite often phone books do not contain up to date information, but do at least reflect names and addresses from the past year or so. Such was the case from this entry in an old online scan we found:

    Oak Park Telephone Directory July 1, 1948
    ===============================================
    Sedory John D Jr 4109 Highlnd... Stanley-2634-W 
    Sedory John D Sr 3146 Austin ... Olympic-9370-R

    We have no idea what the "W" and "R" refer to, but this does show our author was living at the old house in Stickney prior to this date, and that his father (whom, by the way, used 'J' as his middle initial, never 'D' that we know of; so they got that wrong) was still residing at 3146 Austin Blvd.]

    One of the first things I remember about Kansas City was that we'd made prior arrangements through our Lutheran church to find a boarding house run by a Lutheran couple on the southeast side of town. Eleanor and I stopped in town before looking for the boarding house, at somewhat of a decent looking restaurant. I just wanted some coffee and a sweet roll, and I think Eleanor ordered the same—at least the roll, and milk perhaps.
    When the girl brought the rolls and drinks, I took a bite into what felt as though it would be a rather hard sweet roll; so I called the waitress back and asked about their freshness. I'll never forget what she said:
    "Why, I can't understand that; we just got them in the first of the week!" (this was now a Saturday). Where I came from a day or two no longer made anything "fresh," yet with her, week old stuff was still considered fresh.

    Eleanor and I easily found the Grieger's place in the 3300 block of South Prospect, and soon we were all set up with a room and advised of the hours for meals. There were something like four or five others besides us and the family members of the Grieger's, so that was a bunch at one large table at meal time. And in time Eleanor and I learned if we were going to eat anything, we'd have to learn to be less modest in taking portions, for the second time around was just a dream, not reality. And we also learned where the "boarding house reach" originated, too! The mother's name was Amanda; the daughter's, Loumanda (both "chubbies").

    The school was downtown at 17th and Wyandotte Streets, and a very large number of other guys attended under the G.I. Bill, too. The classes were just like work days, eight hours long. It was set up as a six month course, but many of us who were offered jobs by various airlines didn't complete the schooling, having completed all the basic requirements before that; mostly practice followed.

    At school for 40 hours a week, the main subjects were tariffs, ticketing, routing, typing, station codes, etc. I had never typed in my life, and I thought I never would. After learning the position of the keys (no markings on the keys), tests showed what progress had been made. Losing the "home keys" position meant total loss! I did eventually reach 40WPM and got a certificate for it—that was on manual typewriters, however. That speed won't set any records (some go over 125 WPM now-a-days), but for me it was very good.

    Eleanor got a job in Kansas City, at Wilson-Jones near the river somewhere as I recall—not the best neighborhood in the world. But she kept us in the extras we needed as I went to school.

Asthma and Bronchitis

    While living there, I noticed my asthma and bronchitis acted up pretty badly, and I had to visit a doctor to see what could be done. Kansas City in the summer months can be very humid and hard, on those with respiratory ailments. The doctor told us I could either stay and finish school, or I could decide I wanted to live and to get right out to high and dry country somewhere as quickly as we could go there. He did throw a scare into us!

 
 
 

Chapter 22

TOC

Chapter 24

Footnotes

1[Return to Text]  The author's State of Illinois Marriage License (which was finally issued on January 3rd, 1947; and does have the wedding dated as the 28th) was applied for by the author's pastor, the Rev. Harry Fricke, quite some time before the wedding, and he simply assumed the wedding would be on a Saturday as our author stated. However, the certificate from Rev. Fricke himself (a church certificate), with names of the witnesses, is dated the 27th of December, 1946.

2[Return to Text]  A euphemism which every woman and husband should understand.

3[Return to Text]  Peřina with a háček (or Caron; a mark shaped like a small v) over the r (which gives it an rzh sound), is the Czech spelling (see the Czech article here) for a down blanket or comforter or duvet (from French); or feather bed. Although we found no entry for Perina in the Slovak Wikipedia, various Slovak and Slavic/Slavik online dictionaries do have Perina listed. We believe this word is one of many which have been commonly shared among Slavic languages; though spellings may differ. You will, however, find the word Perie (feather) in the Slovak Wikipedia; with Pero and Peří being the equivalent articles in the Czech Wikipedia. We mentioned in Chapter 9 that a number of words our author recalled from his childhood trips to Streator seemed to have Czech rather than Slovak origins. But they could just as well be part of a larger Slavic word pool.