Psychology Research

I can’t understand how I could fly to California without a job awaiting me. It would be foolhardy now. Yet I had some money and felt perfectly sure I’d be okay. And I was.

I started to work at Kaiser Permanente Psychology Research the day after I’d had my interview. Working for Helen and Tim Leary meant doing a variety of jobs: typing dittos (like mimeographs, only more primitive), packaging orders for Tim’s questionnaires and diagrams of how groups operate, (he’d written a well-received Social Psychology text book) and proofreading an index for a new book of his. Among other things which I’ve forgotten.

The office was tuned to a new project: Finding a numerical system to codify therapeutic interactions in psychotherapy. Tim was working with Dr. Merton Gill, formerly of Yale. Gill had sessions of therapy with one patient recorded. Once a system was set up, several of the people in the office would be listening to the recorded sessions and using the new system to evaluate it.

I should tell you now that it didn’t work.  That’s why you haven’t heard of it.

Many long afternoons were spent on it. I wasn’t included as I’d told Helen and Tim I’d like to take May off and drive back home to Connecticut. I had purchased a used Ford and drove to work every day.

Soon after I began, Patricia joined the office. She and her roommate, Joan, soon became my good friends. They lived in academic Berkeley and I visited them often. I also had friends at the Blue Triangle Club where I lived. It was a women’s hotel run by the YWCA and I liked it. I’d get long telephone calls from my new Mexican friend at the Veterans’ Hospital. That went nowhere. Not only was he lin traction for a bad back by he was married.

Oakland

I stayed for a weekend at my parents’ friends in Walnut Creek. On arriving at their house, I was promptly told I was welcome but only for the weekend. A guest, a woman, had not only stayed and stayed but started making eyes at Mr. Smith. So no visitors were welcome after three days.

Which was fine with me. I needed to get a job. Sunday I was back at the YWCA hotel in Oakland and Monday I went to an employment agency.

They smiled at me and gave me a typing test. All employers smiled at fresh graduates of Ivy League colleges in those days, although they smiled at most people looking for jobs. The economy was booming and people were needed for all kinds of things.

I was sent to Kaiser Permanente Research, where I was interviewed by Dr. Tim Leary and his secretary, Helen. I thought I did okay. After I left, I called my agent and asked her for another referral. My agent said,Call Dr. Leary and tell him how much you enjoyed talking to him and that you hope to hear from him soon.

I did. Helen said, We were just talking about you. We want you to come to work here.

Happy Days! I had a new job.

The West Coast

After a hot summer spent on Wolfpit Road in Bethel, Connecticut, seeing all my high school friends, I left for California in early September. I’d written a college friend who lived in Berkeley, asking if I could see her, or visit her. She responded that she was leaving Berkeley for New York City and since her flight left for New York after mine came in, she’d be able to say hello and goodbye to me.

And so she did. Her sister kindly drove me to a hotel in San Francisco and dropped me off there.

That left me to rapidly make some plans. I took a tour of San Francisco the next day and the day after I was on a bus to Los Angeles. Sylvia, my Baltimore roommate, wanted me to come down and stay with her in her aunt’s and uncle’s apartment in Hollywood.

While Sylvia and her family worked six days a week and sat around the pool on Sunday, I spent time every day by the pool, practicing my diving. There was a young woman of 20 or so who was newly married. Her husband was a lawyer for a film company and met her at her home, while seeing her father on business. Somehow this young woman talked him into marrying her. He seemed stunned by his good luck. (He’d been raised in an orphanage.) She was very happy and, I suspected, pleased to be out of her father’s house.

One day she took her husband’s convertible and we drove through the smog of central Los Angeles to go to Disneyland. My eyes ran with water in the foul air. I’d heard of the famous LA smog. Being in it was a nasty shock. I can see the two of us now, trying to be cool sophisticated young women, with our eyes running down our faces behind our stylish sunglasses.

But I spent only a week with them all. Soon I was back on a bus to San Francisco to call old friends of my parents from Rochester, New York who now lived in Walnut Creek. I was going to ask them if I could come and visit.

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Leaving Baltimore

I left Baltimore with relief. (But then I always leave my jobs with relief. Always something better around the bend.) I was tired of the heat and humidity and tired of my case load: all nursing homes. I’d been switched to it several months before I left. All the nursing homes except the large Jewish one were depressing. I was too busy at the Jewish home to get depressed.

The social worker always arranged for me to have a good lunch with him before I saw any clients. There was so much going on, workers coming and going, activities scheduled. Many of the women and men there were still able to participate in Bingo, singing or cards or what have you. Since the social worker knew who I was supposed to see, I hardly had to work at all. And the job came with a car.

I had a new roommate in the Spring: Charlotte. She was married to a guy who was serving in the army in Korea. They’d make an arrangement by mail to talk on the phone on a Sunday. Charlotte, who was somewhat nervous, was always both relieved to hear her husband’s voice and distressed again to realize he was fighting a war and could be injured at any time.

After hearing about her family, I suspected she’d married to get away from them. As a teenager she’d had ulcers from the formal mealtimes where her brother and his wife fought every day with chilling good manners.

When I left, I’d made a date with Charlotte. I borrowed my  Dad’s car and drive down on a Friday to get all the stuff I’d accumulated over the year I’d been there. She came back with me that night, sharing the driving. She found my parents’ house to be heaven: no formality, no arguments, no frosty silences.

She cried when she had to leave.

My Baltimore Boyfriends

…as though I had so many. There was Bernie J. who worked at the Welfare Department, as did Bruce F.

I always thought that Bernie was a serious boyfriend but as I think back now, I can’t remember what we did together. There must have been dates, weren’t there? And yet I can remember Bruce and the time i was his guest at a dance at his former college somewhere in Virginia. Or Maryland. I only remember a Southern girl saying I had a hard Northern voice, or something like that. She had a Southern accent but not one of the soft, sweet ones.

Sitting here on a dull February afternoon, I don’t believe Bernie was even a good boyfriend. Although he later declared he loved me. I found that letter in the same envelope I found my Bernie’s postcards.

A better boyfriend was Ivan. One evening, I’d walked to the Baltimore Public Library and found a copy of James Thurber. Thurber was always good for a laugh so I found a comfortable seat and began reading. Every few minutes I’d laugh. I’d try to hold it in, but it was difficult.

After awhile, I returned the book to the shelves and left the library. A short distance from the library a young man approached me and introduced himself himself. He said he had seen me enjoying my book. We began talking and he asked me out. Sure. Why not?

We had several dates including one to visit a friend with a new record player and two speakers!! Stereophonic sound. We listened to music with stereophonic sound and without. It was exciting, although more for the owner than for me.

My date with Charlie from Yale didn’t turn out well. Bob was too young and Warren, who took me and my new roommate, Charlotte, sailing, was really and old beau of Sylvia’s

When I left, Bernie gave me a great party. And my friends at my office gave me a farewell party after work one afternoon. The only unsegregated place in Baltimore that we could meet socially was the Pennsylvania Railroad Station. We put tables together and had a party. But the big room was empty except for us. Not so many parties at five in the afternoon on a hot June day.

Actually…

…what I keep remembering is my roommate, Sylvia. Boyfriends later.

I didn’t want to stay at the YWCA, so I was glad to hear of someone who wanted a roommate to share the expenses of an apartment. It was in the 900 block of Charles Street, a nice area of Baltimore, not too far from the Welfare Department. Sylvia and I seemed to get along just fine. I happily moved in.

The small apartment building, six apartments, was owned by another Sylvia who also owned two dress shops. My Sylvia worked in one of those shops. People who worked with them called my Sylvia Little Sylvia and the shop owner, Big Sylvia. No one was either big or little, you understand.

Sylvia and I spend time in Big Sylvia’s apartment play Bridge with her and her deaf son. Big Sylvia wanted her son to socialize. Because of his deafness–he could read lips–he didn’t spend much time with non-deaf people. So the four of us played Bridge.

Sylvia was a good roommate. We had no differences about who cooked–we took turns–and who cleaned–neither one of us. But she was a bulemic. I didn’t know that name then. I was just confused. It never occurred to me that she might be controlling weight by throwing up her dinner every night. Besides, late in the evening, she’d eat up all the leftovers in the refrigerator.

Perhaps it was my talk of going to California that motivated Sylvia to go to Hollywood the following Spring. She was going to live with her aunt and uncle who ran a dry cleaning shop, and work for them.

I’d been thinking of going to California for some time. In the Spring, I started to save my money to buy a car after I was there. I’d heard you needed one to get around. I figured I could afford a second-hand car of some kind.

Just before I left Baltimore, big Sylvia confessed that she’d hoped I’d invite her son to drive to California with me. No, I hadn’t thought of that. Nor did I want the romance that Sylvia hoped we’d fall into. And then, she hoped, fall into bed together. Not on my agenda!

Baltimore

After I graduated from Smith in 1955, I wanted a job, a job not in Bethel, Connecticut. I was sick of school. Very few of my classmates went on to graduate school. I only knew one girl who was going to get a Ph.D. But many got married, getting their Mrs. That’s the way people talked then. We all thought it was stupid.

I hadn’t tried very hard getting a job before graduation. I knew I could stay with my parents until I found something.

On July 4th I had an appointment with a woman who was in charge of hiring at the Baltimore, Maryland Department of Welfare. It wasn’t a job that interested me much but I would be in a big city and not too far from home.

The interview took place in an apartment on the upper west side of New York City. But next to Harlem. After my interview I walked the streets looking for a way downtown to get back to Norwalk where I’d parked Dad’s car.

Was I uneasy? Yes, but my rule is, act as though you’ve got a place to go to. Nobody bothers you then.

I took the train back to Norwalk and when I opened the car door, Whoosh! went the hot air trapped in the car. I thought for a second that I had broken something. I should have left the windows open a bit. It was a very hot day. And I didn’t know much about cars.

Within a week or two, I was in Baltimore in a room at the YWCA Hotel. The room was okay, but , oh my God, was it hot. I read articles in the newspapers and magazines on how to stay cool: take a cool shower, don’t dry yourself, put your nightgown on your wet body, sprinkle the bed with water. This helped a lot.

I had a week of training before I took my 5″ by 4″ welfare department notebook and hit the streets. I had a mix of black and white clients spread over a large area. I memorized my map and the trolley/bus system. I began to lose weight.

I don’t remember much about my day to day job; I do remember my boyfriends.

 

 

 

PARDON ME but Nightclubs comes before The Wedding. Sorry

Nightclubs….

Bernie and I didn’t gad about every night, but we did need to go out for dinner every night. There was a fancy cafeteria that had good food we went to often. It was cheap which was a plus. Supposedly Milton Berle and his wife sometimes ate there.

Milton Berle! Does anyone know who he is? And Dan Dailey–a tall good-looking blond guy who danced in the movies, as the second string dancer. We passed him one night when we were out, ready to visit our favorite nightclub starring Nino Tempo. Dailey was drunk and had a good-looking blonde by the hand. I suddenly realized I hadn’t seen him in a movie in some time.

Sometimes Anne, our new employee, joined us for a pub crawl. We never crawled very far. She like Nino and went “backstage” to get his autograph. Instead she met him coming out of the men’s room, zipping himself up. She decided against asking for his autograph.

And one night while we were dining in the restaurant Oscar Levant dined in, while Anne had gone to the ladies room, Bernie proposed.

Yes! I said, Yes!

Anne came back. I told her we were engaged and we started planning the wedding.

“Wedding!” said Bernie, staring at me, looking half  happy and half alarmed.

I calmly told him that that was what a proposal meant.But we didn’t talk of it any more that night.

He had looked so surprised.

 

The Wedding…

was easy to plan. My mother did most of the work as she was on the spot in Bethel. Bernie and I flew back. As we were leaving, we spoke to our next door neighbor, a nice old gentleman. He thought we were married already, of course, so I was grateful I was wearing a pair of gloves for travel. Imagine! Wearing gloves for an airplane trip. That’s what ladies did them.

In New York, someone, likely Lyman, Bernie’s friend, picked us up at the airport. I felt so sophisticated: “Transcontinental couple  arrive in New York from Los Angeles. They’re here to get married on August 9,1958 in charming Redding, Connecticut.”

We got married in Redding because Bernie was a “fallen-away” Catholic, which means no Catholic at all. The Redding church was a kind of a primitive outpost missionary church for Bethel’s St Mary’s church.  My mother-in-law commented later on the dirty collar of the priest who officiated. He darted away the minute the ceremony was over, refusing my invitation to the reception.

I don’t remember the reception very well. According to my Aunt Eunice, who wrote local news  for the Danbury News-times, it was a lovely affair.  Another newspaper clipping my Dad saved said we would be “at home after August 18 in Berverley Hills.”

Amazing! 1958 and some newspaper woman still used “at home” to indicate I would be receiving guests after August 18. And without a butler, too.

At any rate we flew to San Francisco, saw the city and then went to a party friends gave us across the bay in Berkeley. Before I worked for Ken Baldridge, I spent a year in Oakland and Berkeley, working for Tim Leary.

I enjoyed showing my husband to everyone and talking to everyone. Now that I was a married woman, I felt that some of them were a little too laid back. John from Salt Lake City sat on the floor drinking beer, drunk. And Ann, who’d planned the party, was quitting her job and going to Germany to work for the USO. And my friend Marilyn wouldn’t come in to the party because her husband, an Arab, wouldn’t come in.

Marilyn was a friend from my days in Oakland where I lived in The Blue Triangle Club. It was a hotel for women run by the YWCA. Nice and also cheap. I had hoped she made the right choice of husband, someone who would appreciate her expansive hips. I’d hoped he hadn’t marry her for her citizenship.

So there they were, at our party. So to speak. I went out to meet him and talk to Marilyn. A little later, I brought Bernie out to meet him. We each, Marilyn and I, showed off our prizes.

The Wedding…

was easy to plan. My mother did most of the work as she was on the spot in Bethel. Bernie and I flew back. As we were leaving, we spoke to our next door neighbor, a nice old gentleman. He thought we were married already, of course, so I was grateful I was wearing a pair of gloves for travel. Imagine! Wearing gloves for an airplane trip. That’s what ladies did them.

In New York, someone, likely Lyman, Bernie’s friend, picked us up at the airport. I felt so sophisticated: “Transcontinental couple  arrive in New York from Los Angeles. They’re here to get married on August 9,1958 in charming Redding, Connecticut.”

We got married in Redding because Bernie was a “fallen-away” Catholic, which means no Catholic at all. The Redding church was a kind of a primitive outpost missionary church for Bethel’s St Mary’s church.  My mother-in-law commented later on the dirty collar of the priest who officiated. He darted away the minute the ceremony was over, refusing my invitation to the reception.

I don’t remember the reception very well. According to my Aunt Eunice, who wrote local news  for the Danbury News-times, it was a lovely affair.  Another newspaper clipping my Dad saved said we would be “at home after August 18 in Berverley Hills.”

Amazing! 1958 and some newspaper woman still used “at home” to indicate I would be receiving guests after August 18. And without a butler, too.

At any rate we flew to San Francisco, saw the city and then went to a party friends gave us across the bay in Berkeley. Before I worked for Ken Baldridge, I spent a year in Oakland and Berkeley, working for Tim Leary.

I enjoyed showing my husband to everyone and talking to everyone. Now that I was a married woman, I felt that some of them were a little too laid back. John from Salt Lake City sat on the floor drinking beer, drunk. And Ann, who’d planned the party, was quitting her job and going to Germany to work for the USO. And my friend Marilyn wouldn’t come in to the party because her husband, an Arab, wouldn’t come in.

Marilyn was a friend from my days in Oakland where I lived in The Blue Triangle Club. It was a hotel for women run by the YWCA. Nice and also cheap. I had hoped she made the right choice of husband, someone who would appreciate her expansive hips. I’d hoped he hadn’t marry her for her citizenship.

So there they were, at our party. So to speak. I went out to meet him and talk to Marilyn. A little later, I brought Bernie out to meet him. We each, Marilyn and I, showed off our prizes.