I love my …

postcards. In my will, my son, Steve, gets them. But I’ve been thinking of giving him a box or two now.

Of course, he hasn’t any time to spend on them. His work is demanding and he won’t retire for a few years more. Besides, I’ve put them in some order,, mainly by country.

The collection was one that someone else put together. It came to me in a complicated way I won’t try to explain. but the cards date from around 1880 to 1910 or so. and there are a lot of them; I estimate about five thousand or so.

Mostly European countries are represented: Italy has the most cards, followed by France, England, Spain and the Netherlands. there’s Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Switzerland and Germany. There’s one shoe box full of american cards too. In that box there are several sets of Native Americans, back in the days when they would pose for the camera or the artist. The other American cards don’t interest me much. All too familiar, I guess.

This postcard collection inspired me to collect modern postcards. I have seven boxes of them. They are only partially organized. For a period of time in the seventies until recently, postcards were used a lot for advertising, publicity and by politicians.

I think the internet has taken over those roles. I don’t receive many postcards any more. I do receive postcards from my dentist and from my local community college announcing art shows. Besides them, only politicians seem to use them. My mail is dull these days.


Bernie is doing…

…well. He has minor upsets to his routine. And routine is important to someone who has few things to think about. He can get exercised when they moved him into the little dining room for meals, instead of letting him eat in his room. The little dining room is on his floor, around the corner from the nurse’s station. He raised a fuss about it at first but now he’s settled down. At least for awhile. Until there’s a new change in his routine.

I plan to take him to my hearing aid guy who is now in Putnam. Previously he went to Willimantic for his hearing aids. Trips in wheelchair vans will be too expensive to go there.

I hope he’ll agree to see Ralph, my hearing expert. I’ll tell him the van is too expensive to go to Willimantic. Will he accept that?

In the meantime, I’ll be leaving him behind as I go with our son and daughter-in-law to  Prince Edward Island, Canada. It’s his place. He should be going and It should be the one staying behind. but that’s not the way it worked out.

There–I’ve finished with my life story…

At least all I’m going to do right now. I’m back to daily stuff. What is there to say about the weather! It’s been grey and raining for days. Or so it feels like it. All I know is I battle depression when it’s gloomy for too long.

But I have my cure–the book Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. It’s a book about cognitive-behavioral therapy. It is full of specific exercises to do to pull myself upward and it works. Sometimes it has worked for me just by taking the book down off the shelf and putting it on my desk. Looking at it cured me! Usually, though, I have to dig in and do some exercises.

I’ll  show you one exercise for procrastination. If you’re depressed, you are putting tasks off. This sheet makes you get going. Suppose you have a letter to write that you have put off for weeks. Here’s what to do.

Break the task into smaller tasks. On a sheet of paper lengthwise, write down the steps:  1. Outline the letter. 2.  Write a rough draft. 3. Type the final draft. 4. Address an envelope and mail.

To the right of each step, predict how difficult it will be and how much satisfaction you think you will get from each step. Use a scale of 0% to 100%. After you have completed each step, write down how difficult it was and how satisfied you actually were with completing that step, again 0% to 100%.

Putting anything into small steps relieves me of feelings of doing badly. I just have to make an outline, for example. That’s easy. Once I do that, the rest of the steps fall into place. I feel good and I’m ready to take on another task. I may not even need to follow the directions above, if I feel energized enough.

The sun is shining now so I think I’ll go visit my garden. Maybe one of my day lilies is blooming.

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!

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.

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.