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

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

Chapter 25
Back in Illinois

 

Disappointments

    By the time we reached Aurora, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, I was so tired I couldn't keep my eyes open. Eleanor and I looked the town over from one end to the other, but there wasn't one motel room or hotel room open anywhere. It was the racing season at Aurora Downs, and thus the loaded facilities. So off we went with eyes half closed to complete the extra 40 or 50 miles to the folk's house—an almost painful 40 to 50 miles, at that.

    When I regained strength from the trip, I went out to Midway Airport (at 63rd Street between Cicero Avenue and Central Avenue) and American Airlines. I learned the job was strictly for the graveyard shift with no hope for a change, and I decided it wasn't worth it. I'd now check with Embry Riddle in Florida.

    I contacted the governmental agency which handled the G.I. Bill training and learned they felt when I left Utah and Monarch Airlines (and interrupted my commercial pilot training there) I'd changed my job status, and I no longer qualified to continue pilot training on the G.I. Bill. I was shocked and in disbelief; but that's the way it was! [A good example of why one should first inquire about such things before proceeding!]

Cab Driver

    Brother Ed was working for the Berwyn Cab Company as a driver, and he told me he could get a job for me there. I took him on and began working as a cab driver.

Moved to Berwyn

    I still had payments on the Plymouth Club Coupe, and—as often happened to me—the folks bailed me out by taking over the car payments and maybe giving us some cash to boot. In a couple months Eleanor and I learned of a rental in a brick bungalow in Berwyn at 3719 S. Euclid Avenue. Mrs. Courval was a widow who was looking for a young couple to live with her and to take care of things like the furnace, coal, and trash, etc., and she took us in. The rental fee was on the moderate side, and my cab driver job kept us going OK.

    Mrs. Courval's husband had been the plant manager at International Harvester on West 26th Street in Chicago, the place where the trucks were manufactured. I guess he made pretty good money and had a pretty responsible job from what we'd heard from Mrs. Courval. He died the year before Eleanor and I moved in with Mrs. Courval. One thing was obvious, Mr. Courval surely must have pampered his wife, for she was like a "spoiled kid" who wanted everything just so. Guess when couples have no kids this can happen.

    When I'd tend the furnace, I'd always be questioned about how I stoked it, how much coal I'd put in it, and on and on. It began giving me the creeps living there with her, but we needed a place to live and put up with that and her often-repeated stories.

    One could easily tell Mrs. Courval was accustomed to the better things, for when we went out to eat (she treated now and then), she went only to the better places. Of course, she let them know (those who served us) of her status.

    We took her to some nephew of hers who lived in a swanky area of north-northwest suburbia. It was obvious they couldn't wait until she passed on so they could inherit what she had. I think they were the last of relatives she had in the area.

    Many times neighbors brought food dishes or bakeries to her, feeling sorry for her. Do you know what she did with those things? She neatly wrapped them in sheets of newspaper and tied the paper tightly. Then she'd trash everything that had been brought to her. It seems she feared germs or what the people may have put into the foods brought to her. What a shame! That, together with the continued same stories and the "I own you" attitude she gave, we began looking elsewhere.

The In-Laws

    When Eleanor and I left for Kansas City over a year earlier for the airline training school, I'd not been speaking with my "in-laws" ever since I got out of the Veteran's Administration Hospital at Hines, Illinois, in November of 1947. It was now June of 1949.

    This was a painful time for Eleanor when I wouldn't go to her folk's place or write or phone them. She went on her own many times, doing all the writing while we were away from home those many months, too.

    At the cab company was a big guy who was kind of a bully. He picked on me and made me feel I wanted to "blow this guy away" if I'd had the means to do it. He always tried his antics when a lot of the other guys would be around, and it made it all the worse for me—humiliating. I even told him in the presence of the crowd one time that he'd better watch his step, for lead travels faster than he could, and I might give him a taste of it someday.

    Well, in time this guy contracted cancer somehow, and he began wasting away physically. In time he could no longer drive. We learned that as he neared his end he had tastes for foods out of season, and the family would send away trying to get strawberries and other things he had requested. It softened my heart and even gave me a feeling of guilt for having been at odds with him.

    I drove the cab for around six or seven months, in which time many experiences occurred.

    One time I'd picked up three black guys who wanted to go to the South Side of Chicago on State Street. When we neared the place they wanted to stop, they'd asked that I pull up "under those elevated tracks." I felt this was going to be the place they'd bump me off for sure, or at least rob me. As it turned out, I was almost shocked that they paid their tab and gave me no trouble whatsoever.

    The thing the cab company officers were always on the alert for was drivers who would "high stick." That was merely taking a passenger to some destination without pulling the stick down to register the trip or dollars and cents charges on the meter, and just estimating the cost and pocketing it. Passengers who made the same trip time and again knew the exact costs involved.
    One time I'd picked up a fare in Melrose Park, the town where the cab company office was and where we'd gas up. I was not a "high-sticker," but on that occasion I'd simply forgotten to pull the stick when beginning the trip. The passenger (a man) asked me if I'd forgotten something, and in a flash I realized I'd not pulled the "stick." He didn't say any more, but later I learned the man was one who checked drivers out for high-sticking, and he must have believed I didn't have that in mind when we left the pickup place, as nothing came of it.

    Many times I'd be asked to take people to railroad stations downtown in Chicago. Later on this was no problem, but when I'd first begun driving, I didn't know my way around that well, and it became embarrassing when the passenger didn't know how to get to a place, either. Airport terminals also presented problems in that regard—not to mention people always being in a hurry and asking that I drive faster than the law allowed, but at my expense should the cops stop me.

    The most trying passenger was the drunk. He usually wanted to go here, there, and everywhere, sometimes not coming out to pay the fare when he supposedly went in to get the money. Sometimes we'd be advised by the office to contact the police department, other times we were told to let it go. No one won except the drunk on those occasions. The driver would be out completely, and the cab company.

    Other times I'd stop at a given address to pick up a phoned-in fare. I'd go to the door only to find a half sleeping woman with next to no clothes on coming to the door and telling me to either wait, come in, or to forget it. Those were times I did not enjoy my job at all. Who needed that kind of temptation and that kind of passenger? "Taking it out in trade" was a commonly known story among cab drivers in those days, but I never had to face it fully. When such a thing was even hinted at, I let it be known I needed the money.

    Some of the stories I heard from both women and men (mostly men) were fully x-rated accounts about how they did this or that by invitation of the other person and how it shocked them to find such sophisticated people turning out to be that way when alone in a room somewhere. Cab drivers by far must hear and see much more than barbers ever will!

Eleanor's Jobs

    In all the times we spent at different locations, I often forgot to mention all the jobs Eleanor had in those years. For example, when we got to Price, Utah, in October of 1948, she got that job at J.C. Penney's in November of '48 and had it until June of 1949 when we left Utah. Then when we got back to Illinois, she worked at Turner Manufacturing in Chicago for a few months, eventually getting a job at the Meaker Company in Cicero. She spent the next 2½ years on that one.

Lab Training

    Before I get too far ahead of myself, after leaving the cab company in Berwyn, I attended the Chicago College of Medical Technique on South State Street in Chicago. It was located near the "Eighth Street Theatre," a well known place in that day as being the place the WLS [National] Barn Dance [wiki article here] was held and which was broadcast over radio (and TV, the few there were around).

    Again, how I came upon this "opportunity," I don't know; but I was enrolled under the G.I. Bill and was accepted. I had to take the elevated system from Berwyn all the way downtown and then transfer south on another line to get to and from school every day. It was another of those eight hour day deals.

    The jargon of the medical field is quite different from that of the everyday world, and it took me time to try adjusting to it. Most of the lectures were given by doctors, and many nurses attended the school to change their field of work. They, of course, were aware of all the medical terminology.

    We'd have a half day of lab and a half day of lecture. The latter would usually be well above my head, though the lab portion of the course was interesting.

    I remember when we were testing each other (students) for basal metabolism, it was my turn to head up the test on a young lady. She put the mouth piece in her mouth, and I turned on the oxygen which was measured in liters. When the measured amount of oxygen was reached, I called out, "O.k., cut it! She's had her litter." You see, I didn't know the word liter was pronounced "leeter," and I was saying in so many words that this girl had delivered a "litter" as though she were a dog or cat or some animal. With that pronouncement, the girl spit out the mouth piece as she laughed almost beyond control. I'd made a "funny" but was too ignorant to know at the moment what I'd done. Others in the group also guffawed for some time.

Singer Corporation

    In January of 1950 I landed a job at Singer Sewing Machine Company at Ridgeland Avenue and Cermak Road (6400 West, 2200 South) in Berwyn.

    At the Singer Sewing Machine Company in Berwyn, I started out as the mechanic. I learned how to disassemble, repair, and reassemble all kinds of sewing machines from A to Z. I think I was at that end of the job for nearly five months or so when I was told we'd be getting a new mechanic who I was to train so I could go into sales. The new guy was a little on the foreign side, talking with a broken English accent. He was an opera nut who knew all the arias, overtures, etc. He would wave his hands as he'd sing out the parts, never missing a word that I could detect. In any case, he learned my job and relieved me of what had by now become sort of monotonous, and I yearned for the excitement of the sales opening.

Grandma Edgren

    On February 9, 1950, Eleanor's Grandmother Edgren died. I was fortunate enough to have met and learned to know Grandma Edgren as a woman with Christian virtues, one who cared for people as individuals. When I first met her, it was a cold and snowy day, and she insisted I had to put on a pair of rubbers to cover my shoes before going out in the snow again. She was 77 at the time of her death, as was her husband. She was Eleanor's grandmother on her father's side.

The Basement Apt.

    [In] February of 1951 [we] found a basement apartment for rent at 3452 S. Gunderson Avenue in Berwyn. When Eleanor and I looked at the place, it seemed like heaven on earth to us. Not because it was so great a setup, it was just the freedom of getting away from Mrs. Courval (God rest her soul!). And she was deeply hurt when we gave her our news of leaving! It was as though we'd sold her down the river, so to speak! So we were at Mrs. Courval's nearly a year and a half.

    The basement apartment consisted mainly of a living room and a bedroom, and a makeshift kitchen in the back part of the basement (where we entered the apartment). It was here Mrs. Kotrch and Eleanor did the clothes washing.

    Mr. Kotrch's two little dogs (forgot the breed) went everywhere with him, and they yapped constantly, though it didn't bother us at all. We thought of them as being good watch dogs. I'm sure Mrs. Kotrch also loved them.

Grandpa Kaske

    On July 28, 1951, Eleanor's Grandfather Kaske (her mother's father) died. My in-laws had lived across the street from the Kaske's and moved in with them in something like 1949 or so in order to help keep an eye on Grandpa, as he began wandering in the neighborhood and getting lost. Alzheimer's disease might be what one would call his illness today, but then it was listed as "hardening of the arteries" as I recall. In his younger days Grandpa Kaske had built a number of the houses in the block where he and my "in-laws" lived. He was 79.

   On December 27, 1951, all the Edgrens came over, bringing potluck dishes, to help Eleanor and I celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary.

Having a Baby!

    Around February or March of 1952 we went to the "in-laws" to visit. While there we got on the phone to my folks right in the kitchen where everyone could hear. We said something like, "Congratulations soon grandparents to be! Eleanor is pregnant!" In the kitchen where we'd called on the phone, and I'm sure at my folk's house, there was almost unbelievable silence. We had been married around five years without a sign of children, so this came as a somewhat pleasant surprise to everyone.

Changed Store Locations

    It was early in the year of 1952 that I changed from the Berwyn Singer Sewing Machine Company store to the one in La Grange, Illinois, a couple of towns farther to the west of Berwyn. A super-salesman, Stanley (I'll just call him that) took over, though he was later followed by Rudy Walneck as the manager.

    When training for sales in Berwyn I'd made some calls on potential customers while with Stan, and though he didn't actually know the products that well, he sure impressed the women as though he did.

    On one call in which a Singer Vacuum Cleaner was being demonstrated, Stan told the woman, "Yes, Mam, this bristle is made of 'pure nylon pig bristle.'" He was referring to the attachments which had a bristle. The fact is the bristle was probably of plain, ordinary nylon construction. But he made it sound as though it was of some special construction. He did make the sale!

    Another thing about Stan, he worked at a country club as a bar tender at times, usually weekends, I think. He was a Polish guy who was rather nice looking, having graying hair and was probably in his forties.

    Stan told me stories about women I didn't want to believe, but after a time I figured what he told me was so. He told of many house calls he made where the women invited him to the bedroom—that's where many sewing machines were kept— and where he worked on their machines, all the while also using innuendo to come to a sexual conclusion. The women would hang over the worker's head to see how adjustments were being made and to learn how to do them themselves; and that was just about an invitation to begin "horseplay." Stan told me there were untold times he just ended up with the woman in the bed nearby fulfilling sexual desires both probably had. In a way it gave me less respect for women in general, thinking of the husbands who probably thought they had honorable and loving wives.

    While in the Berwyn Store at Singer's, there were: Frank, Rudy, Stan, Ralph and myself. I know the last names, but as I think of what I'm writing, I won't include any of them. I may already have said too much about Stan as it is, though I'd guess by now he's long gone from this earth, but who knows?

    The idea of the repair calls was to get a "clean and adjust" job which ran about $20.00 or more. In reality most times all that was needed was an ordinary adjustment of some sort which could be done in minutes to solve the problem. It bothered me to get those higher priced jobs which really didn't need doing, and I guess it reflected in my sales volume—lowest of the bunch, probably. This repair thing often was nothing more than the needle being installed backwards, where the machine would break thread constantly until turned around correctly. Or the thread may have been strung incorrectly.
    [Editor's Note: This is the way almost every service company is run. I once worked for a desktop calculator company (in the 1970's) and was told to try renewing contracts and also sell as much ribbon, paper, etc. as we could for each service call. One time I went to the accounting offices for a major Hollywood studio, and found the only problem was someone, perhaps a cleaning person, had unplugged the machine from the wall socket and no one had checked for that!]

    I remember one call on Ogden Avenue near Home Avenue. The woman had some sort of business there and needed an adjustment to her machine. I didn't intend to do any more than necessary to make the machine run OK I adjusted everything and cleaned, dusted, oiled and checked everything. There had been a minor problem with an adjustment of tension. The woman had tended to tighten the upper tension too much, causing the material to shirr or ravel. I completed the job and showed the woman how to properly adjust that tension.
    When I finished, the woman still insisted it didn't run right, and she even said "It ran better before you fooled with it!" I knew that wasn't or couldn't be so, as I was a mechanic before a salesman, and I knew my machines. But I went along with her, trying to say or do what she wished. But I couldn't satisfy her no matter what. She eventually began chasing me out of the store with a broom swinging behind me, and it was then I realized this woman was "sick" and there was no need to try pleasing her further. So I left humiliated.

    Then there were the dogs who barked right at my calves and heels while I entered and exited yards. I'd be walking along trying to show no concern, all the while having goose bumps running up and down my legs. One little mutt kept at it until he finally took a nip at one of the calves of my legs. I never pressed the issue, as the woman wasn't the type who'd believe her "little baby" could do such a thing. And I'd only be accused of aggravating the "baby."

    Another type of call was where the party owned a "foot operated" old sewing machine (I loved those "oldies"), and we'd try for an "electrification," which was merely attaching an electric motor and belt which did away with the foot pedal, making it a more modern machine overall. I did this to my mother's old Singer.

    Just before I'd left the Berwyn store, we used to have our sales meetings at Walgreen's Drug Store next door at the corner of Ridgeland and Cermak. [Like many of the other businesses mentioned here, that store is no longer there.] This took place on Monday mornings. Chuck (won't use his last name, either) was our store manager, and he held some pretty hot meetings where he'd get riled up over sales quotas or some such things. This particular Monday he boasted, "I wonder who'll be fired today?" He was threatening the sales force, I'd say.

    Well, it so happened that while we were at that meeting, the regional manager came in to our meeting. And he did fire someone, Chuck, our manager! Guess that's called "poetic justice!" I did feel sorry for Chuck, though, as he tried to do a good job for the company.

Not Good at Golf

    Ralph, Frank, Rudy and I often took part in sports on our day off, which was a Wednesday, as I recall. We'd bowl, golf, hunt and fish together quite often. I got pretty good at things I never before was that interested in just by being in the company of those guys (Rudy didn't go along very often) who were pretty good at all sports. I've often heard it said that a mediocre golfer will always play better when playing with good golfers. I really believe that was so. Except for one thing!

    I had an innate desire to swing a golf club as I would a baseball bat. And what that would do is to cause the well known "slice," where the ball would go a mile, but almost in a circle (like a boomerang). When I tried to learn to adjust for the slice and would stand as though it would slice, I'd sometimes then hit the ball straight; so I'd still end up in the rough. It just never felt right to restrict my swing to the acceptable method of "arcing" the swing; it was awkward to me.

    One time while playing golf with my father-in-law on a southwest side golf course, I hit a ball real hard, and it hit the top of a hill. From there it rolled down the other side, ending up over 300 yards from the tee. He said if I could control my swing, I could become "some golfer." He had an over-spin swing which, though not usually hit very high, would cause the ball to keep on rolling once it made contact with the ground. It was in chipping toward the greens I'd goof, and also while putting, and there he was much better than I.

    On fairway shots I had terrible trouble trying to use a wood without topping the ball or taking a lot of turf without much of the ball. And the water holes were magnetized to pull my balls into them. Sand traps ended up as "language enlargement" places.

    One time while out with Ralph and Frank (we three often played), both of whom were good golfers, though Frank was exceptional, I was down a few strokes already and falling further behind right along. I ended up behind a newly planted sapling on a drive. I was near enough to the green to make it on a chip shot, but the ball was directly behind the sapling. Not wanting to take another stroke to move the ball, I figured I could somehow arc the swing to miss the tree and still hit the green. So I tried it.

    As I swung the iron with a swift, brisk stroke, the center of the club and the center of the sapling met. The club bent at the center, and the head of the iron dropped to the ground. I was left holding the handle and half a club in my hands, saying, "This isn't possible. The law of physics has been violated irreparably. Is satan trying to get the best of me, or is God telling me this isn't for me?"

    I threw what remained of the club in my hands, flinging it as far as it'd go. I then picked up the bag of clubs and flung them as far as I could, as I used less than gentlemanly language. I said, "That's it! I'm through with this ?/+! game forever!"

    Whether or not I played again, I don't recall; but I'll never forget that incident if I live to be a hundred (I know I overuse that clause!).

    When I think of the times I chipped over greens and down hills on the other sides, into sand traps, into roughs, into water holes, I wonder how I lasted as long as I had at that game.

    Less you should think I'd wasted a lot of time and money at golf, there was the more pleasant side. Roughs meant looking for my balls. Looking meant finding a lot of other balls which also had gone into the roughs. And then there were the nature studies I'd done while in those roughs. I'd find snakes, bugs, rodents, bird nests, unusual plants and growths, all kinds of things one couldn't find in the fairways or on greens!

Nor Bowling

    When we bowled, I'd never end up with the top score among my friends. If I hit a game which went over 200, it was a freak. I'd be just as likely to throw a gutter ball or a strike in consecutive throws.

    There was a time when I thought I pretty well had the picking up of spares down pat, and I really did get pretty good at it. I even hit a 240 game one time. But put a competitor alongside me, and I'd fold at the seams. I couldn't take the pressure of competition. I reacted as I did when a kid, never able to do much of anything right with competition! Scores ranged anywhere from 50 or 60 to over 200, but without any kind of consistency.

Hunting & Fishing

    In hunting parties (and you recall I'm the one who hated to see anything being killed) I held my own with my double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun. When rabbit hunting, I'd always get my share. I did get a little squeamish when hearing the little cottontails squeaking after being hit [yes, rabbits do make sounds then, also when very scared]; though when bitten by one which I'd gone to pick up after the hit, I lost some of the feeling I had for them.

    Pheasants were often our goal, but very few of them ever came into our game bags. It was very difficult to flush them out of their hiding places and get a good shot off. Each of us hunting was in more danger than the birds or rabbits, as we walked in a row which sometimes got uneven. And then when anything moved, "Bang" went the guns—without first making sure no one was at the receiving end other than the game we pursued. Fortunately, we never had a serious accident, though there were times when some of us accidentally pulled both triggers rather than one or the other and found ourselves on the ground sort of stunned from the concussion.

    Most of our fishing was limited to one big trip we took in 1952 (I'm pretty sure it was then) to Spooner, Wisconsin. Ralph's in-laws lived on a lake way up there in the "flowages." We were after the ever-sought Musky, though Northern Pike were plentiful there, too. Ralph was the most experienced of the three of us (or did Rudy go along that time, too?), and even he didn't catch anything worth writing home about. But it was a fun trip.

Tragic Encounter

    When I was at Singer Sewing Machine Company in La Grange, something happened which is worthy of mention, though not the least bit funny.

    We needed some extra help (I forget which department) and ran an ad in the local newspapers. We had a number of responses, though one stands out in my mind, one I'd rather not have remembered.

    This young guy came in; his application was confused, as was his manner of speech. But since we were getting desperate for help, it was decided to put him to work anyway. We kiddingly called this the "bottom of the barrel employment agency" because of that decision. The guy was to begin work the next day.

    When he didn't show up the next a.m., the phone number he listed on his application was called. The woman who answered the phone was probably his wife, and she hadn't known he'd applied at Singer's for a job. But she related a most tragic story.

    That very morning this young man had taken his life (I don't recall the details). He had been very troubled over his marital and financial situation, and he'd decided to "end it all." It was a sad time in my life as I thought of how we'd kidded amongst each other about that fellow, and here he was suffering untold agonies within. It's no wonder he acted as he did, having such things in mind.

Almost a Policeman

    Toward the end of my stay at the Singer store in Berwyn, Frank and I took the examination for police officer in Berwyn. He got high on the list, while I ended up near the bottom. The one problem I'd always had was to climb ropes hand over hand. When you think about it, that means kind of pulling your weight up one hand at a time—sort of like chinning yourself. And that was something I could never do even as a kid before I got heavier. So that's what kept me low on the test.

    Frank eventually was called to duty, and I went on to another testing in Brookfield, Illinois, a suburb or two to the west of where we lived. I was finally called when I reached the top of that list, having been third in the whole group there—the physical wasn't stressed at that city.

    The day came when the Chief of Police of Brookfield called me to come for an interview, asking that my wife also come along for the same purpose. I went into his office and went through what seemed like a mild interview, feeling all was well. But when my wife came out of the office, the Chief called us both back in. He said, "Your wife doesn't want you to be a cop. She's upset about the whole thing. And a cop has enough problems on the job without worrying about what his wife is thinking at home about him and the job. I, therefore, must eliminate your name from the list!" Was I stunned? Perhaps saying I was in utter disbelief from what I'd heard was more like it. I was angry with my wife, and I didn't speak for some time. When I did, I asked why she let me get that far into the job, and then lowered the boom on me. Her answer was that it didn't hit her until she realized that I'd be a cop if she'd just agreed that she didn't mind my being on the force. And it was then that the danger of it all struck her.

    In years to come Eleanor admitted many times she'd made a mistake in reacting as she did in the Chief's office, saying she knew I'd have made a good cop!

First Born Son

    When our first son, Daniel [your Editor], was born, Eleanor handled the pregnancy well as a first-timer, and she delivered at the Women and Children's Hospital in Chicago at 1:55 p.m. Was I proud? Do fish swim? I was ecstatic!

My Brother-In-Law

    Way back when I'd first met my wife, I left out things about her kid brother Robert. He was 14 when Eleanor and I met, kind of a "different" person from the average. For example, I went with him to the Museum of Science and Industry on Chicago's South Side, and we had to take buses and streetcars to get there. He always wanted to sit in the very back of vehicles—a vantage point from which he conversed with the drivers. Being a conservative myself, it made me feel uneasy, even embarrassed being a part of what was taking place. Robert didn't know what embarrassment meant, however, and I had to live with the fact he was going to one day be my brother-in-law. But I figured I'd put up with a lot more than that to wed his sister—more than his unconventional mannerisms, I mean.

    When we first met, he surveyed me as though I were on some auction block. Then he advised me I was pretty lucky to be going with his nice looking sister considering how I looked. And he followed that with warnings about her last boyfriend, who, he said "is very tough and wouldn't like you being with her." How did I deserve all this good fortune passed my way?

    The reason for going to the Museum of Science and Industry became obvious to me later when I got to know Robert better. He had all sorts of electrical gadgets he made himself which were nothing short of amazing, including the kind which was an antenna-like thing from which he'd shoot sparks across large gaps of space. And then there was the thing which he'd hold in one hand and a light bulb in another. He'd then turn the thing on and light the bulb. Not being a buff of electrical items, the best I can do is to call those of his inventions "things." But it did show he was an out of the ordinary type of individual.

    Then there was the family dog Skippy, a Cocker Spaniel who had a pretty rusty-reddish coat and those typical long ears. He was a playful dog and obedient—that is, up until you got him outside the yard and into an alley or sidewalk somewhere. Then he couldn't hear a word you spoke to him. He'd just put his nose to the ground and sniff away as he kept going, putting more and more distance between you and him. In time I learned never to try that again unless he was on a leash.

Too Many Cars

    Automobiles had always been something which captured my attention, and when I had enough money to own one, that enthusiasm increased even more. I'd begun with the 1935 Plymouth Eleanor and I bought from her grandfather. From there to the present day I'd say I've owned over 40 different cars, some new, some used. I once kept a list of the models and years of those cars, but I can't find it. It sure would have helped had I not lost it.

    When we got back from Utah we sold the Plymouth we'd bought in Detroit to the folks (they bailed us out is what it amounted to). Then for a stretch of time we were without one, as I remember having to take the buses to get around for a time.

    Then when in sales at Singer, we used the company car, a '47 or '48 Chevrolet van on occasion for transportation. But I can't figure out which car we bought as our first after getting rid of the Plymouth to the folks after our return from Utah.

    I know we had a 1948 or '49 De Soto for a time, and then I ventured into a new 1951 Buick. It had a stick shift and was a four door straight eight cylinder model, a black one. The trouble with it was that the payments were killing us, so I traded back at the dealer I bought it from for a big 1949 Oldsmobile, the "98" model, losing money, of course.

    The Olds was like a tank, going over bumps and railroad tracks without feeling a thing. It had General Eagle tires on it, the best made at the time. Of course, it wasn't exactly a gas-saver model, but the way it rode made up for it. We had that car for quite some time, so long that I wore the tires until they were just about smooth. The Eagle tires had a flat-fixing material in them, a gooey substance which sealed nail holes or other leaks real well. Otherwise I'd never have been able to wear them so thin.

And Jobs?

    By now you probably surmised I was not a stable worker on jobs, nor in the handling of my finances. Buying cars constantly is a losing matter, but it became part of my lifestyle it seems. It's almost like a sickness. I'm sure any psychoanalyst or psychologist would conclude I'd been trying to make up for all the years we lived in near-poverty with deprivation as kids. I never buckled down to accepting the reality of denying myself those "unaffordable luxuries" when I got older.

    As to jobs, however, any I held over the years were always given everything I had in effort and ability. Seldom did I ever miss work, even when feeling a lot less than wonderful.

 
 
 

Chapter 24

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Chapter 26