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.

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Tim Leary

Tim was good to work for. That was in 1956-7, well before he went East and discovered LSD. He was good-natured and enjoyed the work he directed at psychology Research.

Since I wasn’t part of the Leary-Gill research, I didn’t see much of him. The work I did for him always came from Helen. All the employees in Tim’s office were women. I think they sometimes hired women no one else would; for example, a very pregnant young woman. She complained about her husband who was studying for his bar exam. He did nothing but eat, sleep and study. He hardly spoke at all. She probably looked for a job to have someone to talk to.

At the time, in the summer of 1957, Tim was divorcing or being divorced  by his second wife. His manner toward all of us was friendly. He never paid extra attention to anyone.

Surprisingly, one of his good friends was the used car salesman who sold me my two Fords. Donald seemed to me to be an odd person to be a good friend of Tim’s. But he was single and ready for anything, I imagine. And Tim was single, or almost single, for the first time in many years. I think he wanted to play.

One day I started down the stairs from the office to the front door. Ahead of me was Roberta and a good friend of hers, very attractive, who had just arrived. They were going out for lunch. Tim and Don were coming up the stairs. Tim stopped.

Roberta introduced her friend to Tim. A couple of steps behind Roberta, I saw the look Tim turned on Roberta’s friend. He was suddenly not the pleasant, smiling guy I saw every day. He was a man very interested in this new woman. There was a lot of sexual heat in his look.

It was a shocking surprise. And I wished, for a second, that it was turned on me.

 

My Trip

Before I left for Connecticut, i got my worn tires retreaded and found somebody to share the trip and expenses with me. Maryanne was glad to find a cheap trip home to Boston.  We left Berkeley where I now lived with Joan, as Patricia had moved to Rome to marry her Vittorio, early in the morning. I wanted to make it to Winnemucca, Nevada at least by day’s end. And so we did, with tire treads falling off along the way. I didn’t know that putting new treads on my old tires wasn’t safe for highway travel.

I called my parents and asked them to wire me $200 to buy four new tires. That’s what they cost then. We found a motel nearby, had dinner, slept and woke to get the money. It didn’t take them long to put on four new tires and we were off again. No more tire trouble.

The next day we traveled till ten o’clock at night to make up for the time I felt we lost with our tire problem. We ended up in one of those motels where you don’t dare take off your clothes before lying down on the top of the bed. And it was a party motel, too. We rose early and got the hell out of there.

The rest of our trip was smooth. I was glad to be home again. Maryanne took a train to Boston. She would fly back in a week or  so.

I spent time with my parents, my sister and my friends, and before I realized it, it was time to return. One of my aunts got worried over my traveling back to California alone. “Now, Elinor, you won’t pick up any hitchhikers, will you?”  “No, Aunt Ruth, I won’t.”  “Well, you read about that girl….”  That girl had picked up a hitchhiker and he had killed her. How I hated that hitchhiker! I’d heard about him from each of my parents and now my aunt.   “I’d never pick up a hitchhiker. That’s a crazy thing to do.”

Now that the tire problem was solved, I found I had to add a quart of oil to my engine every 300 miles. But I kept my eye on the mileage and pulled off the road religiously every 300 miles. I had no problem with it. Or I’ve forgotten the problems I had! I picked up Joan at her home in Salt Lake City and we made it back fine. But I did go and trade my oil guzzling Ford for a new model.

My Friend, Priscilla…

…Was the one who took me to the Vets Hospital. She worked there and had a date one week with a guy she met there. He stood her up. Somehow I met the same guy and he asked me out. Priscilla and I both knew he’d stand me up.

He did. He must have had a vendetta against women.

Priscilla invited me to her home for Thanksgiving. Not a comfortable home. It is the only Thanksgiving in my life that all the food on my plate was white.

We were both depressed and left as soon after dinner as we could. She didn’t need to explain why she worked at the candy stand in the Vets Hospital and lived at the Blue Triangle. I would have done anything to get out of that house too.

At Christmas Pauline asked me to Christmas dinner at her house. We  got there on time. There was a long table of food and people ready to eat the food. There was also her mother at the head of the table, drunk as a goose. We ate and left. I could see why Pauline lived in Oakland too.

We went horseback riding. It was a beautiful, sunny warm day and we enjoyed our ride. I did despite the clever way my horse suddenly galloped and then took a quick right. If my foot hadn’t got stuck in the stirrup, I would have flown to the left. And there were rocks everywhere. That should have taught me a lesson, to avoid horses-by-hire. Unfortunately for my well-being some months later, it didn’t.

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.