During these times, she was fond of telling me the story of how, when she was but a wee lass of sixteen, she got a job. I won't tell you the year it happened, because that would be uncouth, but this was during a time when a grade school education had the weight of a high school education, a high school education had the weight of a college education, and her future husband was busy trying not to get killed by the Japanese in the Philippines.
There, I can't be any more couth than that.
Before she joined the workforce, my mother was enrolled in a catholic high school her father insisted she and her sisters go to. However, my mother wanted more out of life than that, so she quit school without telling her parents and got a job at the Kress Department Store downtown, not far from where the catholic high school was. Every morning, she'd catch the city bus with her sisters, but they would go their separate ways once they stepped off.
Her father was very angry when the truth came out, as it always does. In this case, the nuns at the catholic school sent a note with one of my mom’s sisters, asking him why she wasn’t attending school.
“What?” he yelled at his wife, who didn’t know a thing about it.
“Why?” he yelled at his daughter when she got home that afternoon.
“I want to buy myself nice things," she explained, and her father’s answer to this was...
Well, he started crying.
And then he began yelling and threatening.
Still, no matter how much he yelled or threatened, my mother refused to quit her job.
"I just want to buy myself nice things,”she kept trying to explain to him.
Her father had no choice but to give in.
Drying the tears in his eyes, he told her, “You’re the first girl in my family to ever work,” and, considering the time, it was probably true.
Not surprisingly, my grandfather never got a rebate from the catholic school for the time my mother wasn’t attending classes.
Still, that’s not the story I want to tell you.
This is the story:
One day, when she was at work, a man she had never seen before asked if she had ever thought about becoming a movie star. He was a bigwig from Hollywood, but, then, aren’t they all? Whether he was legitimate or not, my mother never found out, but he did have a business card, and he gave it to her with the instructions to, “Give me a call.”
When my mother went home after work, she excitedly told her sisters what had happened. They all squealed like the young girls they were. Excitedly, they ran into the living room and told their mom and dad, who weren’t quite as excited. Her father took away that business card and told--make that, ordered--my mother not to ever contact that man and to immediately let them know if he tried to speak with her again.
My mom was too innocent to know the evil that can happen to innocent young girls, so she was disappointed. Still, soon after that, she met my dad, had a family, so you could say her life perked up.
“So you could have become an actress,” I would tell her, probably with a mouth full of fried egg.
“I did become an actress,” she would insist.
“You did?”“Yes,” she would say. “You see, when your father complains, I act like I’m listening.”
Raising My Father
JimDuchene.BlogSpot.com American Chimpanzee