An Ending and A Beginning

As the Autumn came on, I felt more and more restless. Finally I decided to quit my job and go back East. I didn’t feel I wanted to become a Californian. The weather was different. Not that I had missed the snow the previous winter, but the weather didn’t seem “right.”

In November I packed and departed Berkeley. It was raining the day I left. I made it across the central flat land and then started climbing the mountains. It started to snow. Then it snowed some more. Some of the cars on the highway had slid off into the ditch. I drove around them and kept climbing. I knew better than to stop. If I stopped, I wouldn’t get traction again.

I made it to the top and found that on the Nevada side of the mountain, it was raining. What a relief! The road zigged and zagged its way downward but I made it down safely and ate lunch in Reno, a sad little city.

On my way East, I visited some families of friends of mine. Since I wanted to avoid any more snow, I drove through Texas and slowly upwards toward New England. After several days, I hit the Pennsylvania Turnpike. By then I felt close to home so I decided not to stop for the night. I pulled into one of the rest areas, parked my car, and crawled into the back seat after locking the doors.

I don’t remember if I slept or not. After awhile, I hit the road again. I arrived home in Bethel,  Connecticut about ten a.m. on a Sunday morning. My mother was at church. My Dad was surprised to see me; why was I arriving at ten o’clock in the morning? I had to tell him before I went to bed. Needless to say, my parents were alarmed that I’d done something so stupid. Once some time had passed, I agreed with them.

In January I went to Miami with my friend, Nancy, from Berkeley. She had time off from her job, teaching English as a Second language. We only had a week, so it wasn’t much of a trip. But we lived cheaply and enjoyed ourselves.

Then we came back and I started looking for a job. Miami had used up all my money, about $75. I called Smith College Employment Office and they gave me Ken Baldridge’s name and telephone number. I made an appointment to see him in New York City. And so my life with Baldridge Reading Services began. And we know how that ended!

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Ann’s Friends…

…were mostly from Salt Lake City and they all seemed to be former Mormons. One who wasn’t was George. I think he was a friend of Joan’s but he also was a friend of Ann’s. He stopped by one night to invite Ann and me for a trip to the Sierras.

Some months before, he had taken his roommate with him to visit a beautiful site in the mountains. But there was an accident and his roommate had drowned. George wanted to revisit the site where it happened and he wanted us to go with him.

We couldn’t leave until late Saturday afternoon as Ann worked as a telephone operator at a nearby diary. George drove a sports car with a faulty heater. And now that it was a hot afternoon, the heater worked. I thought I’d be baked.

As we got to the mountains, the temperature dropped and I came to appreciate the heat. We finally stopped at about nine o’clock at a bar that served food. I thankfully ate and had a beer. After George and Ann had a few dances, we left and George found a place for us to sleep–on the ground. No nice air mattresses, just a sleeping bag for each of us.

The next morning we drove to a ranch to hire horses. We got our horses and began climbing the nearest mountain. I was happy. There was no way my horse could run away with me.

Instead, the belt wasn’t cinched well and when the horse took a belly full of air to climb the steep path, (the edge of the trail fell off to the left, down some distance) the saddle, blanket and I went shooting off the back of the horse and I landed on the ground. The horse, free of its load, continued to follow Ann’s horse up the mountain.

It happened so quickly that I was speechless. I just sat there trying to figure out what had happened. Around the bend in the trail came George.I”m sure I was glad to see him but I didn’t quite realize I had to get back on the horse. That was no fun; my rear end began to hurt.

But once we’d reached a level place, it wasn’t so bad. We found the creek that George’s roommate had drowned in, ate our lunch and went back down the mountain: much harder than going up, for the path went down at an angle and the horse went down at an angle. I tried to be straight in the saddle.

We made it down. I wanted to report my accident to the owner, a woman, and I hoped she’d have some aspirin. She sounded helpful, so I followed her into a room. Before the door closed behind me, a man came in and leaned against the wall at the rear of the room, watching me.

Suddenly she became threatening. She accused me of planning to sue her. I was flabbergasted. All I wanted was an aspirin. She produced a paper that stated I would never sue he for any damage done to me. I signed it and left.

Never have I felt more threatened. And I still needed an aspirin. I had to ride back to Berkeley in  a sports car on my poor, sore rear end.

Dwight Street

After my trip to Connecticut, I came back to our apartment on Dwight Street. We had an apartment with no bedrooms: a kitchen, bathroom, living room and dining room.

I slept on a Murphy bed. It swung up every morning and fitted behind double closet doors. With the doors closed, we had a living room. Joan slept on a cot in the dining room. We didn’t need any bedrooms. One night my bed crashed to the floor. It fell off some blocks. I’d been trying to listen to a couple in the next room talking to each other, I guess in another Murphy bed. Silence

Joan and and I kept an open house. A friend of Joan’s, Osvaldo, an Argentinian, asked us if he could pay us and have us cook dinner for him every day. He lived on a very small budget. Of course we said yes. It was a pleasure to cook for someone who appreciated it so. Our cooking skills improved. We no longer ate skimpy easy meals. Now we had over-baked ribs, roast chicken, rice and pasta dishes. We served well-balanced meals.

Lots of Latin Americans, friends of Osvaldo’s seemed to be around and other friends of Joan came to visit: Nancy and her Latin boyfriend, Diana with her twin boys and my friend, Roberta, who came to cook a chicken for Passover in our toaster oven. Someone arrived with a gallon jug of Thunderbird (could it have been me?) We all drank it while Osvaldo’s friends stole  pieces of Roberta’s chicken. I hope she had enough for Passover.

We also had a real party which I don’t remember very well, except we had more Latins from another apartment in our building. They were better dressed than our friends but not as interesting. I think our party was just an excuse so Joan and Osvaldo could dance together.

At the end of Spring semester, Osvaldo was leaving for New York City where he had a job waiting for him in an architect’s office. He and Joan decided to marry and Joan left to join him in New York City.

I was happy for her but, oh, how I missed her and Pat. An old friend of Joan’s from the University of Utah was living in Berkeley and wanted a roommate. I left our Dwight Street apartment and moved up the hill to Ann G’s apartment overlooking the city of Berkeley.