Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Once upon a time...Part II

I think maybe I owe a debt of gratitude to my daughter for suggesting I start getting back to telling stories of my life. I have been feeling inundated with political hoopla. and I have been a part of it. Definitely time for a break!


When we left my story, I had just agreed to move to New York's Long Island with an old high school friend. When I hung up the phone, it came rushing into my mind - how would my mother take this? Would she be able to keep the apartment and take care of her needs without me? (Many years later, when my son soberly told me that he wanted to move out, and would I be able to handle things without him?, I would remember this day, and have to fight to keep from laughing in his face.) When I broke the news to my mother, her first words were, "You're not taking the TV, are you?" So much for my concern.

My friend's mom drove us to Long Island and let us go apartment hunting. It was surprisingly easy. That done, we went home to pack. She drove us back with a small U-Haul to move in.

My friend had a boyfriend who lived in Brooklyn, and she had been to New York many times. I knew no one and nothing. Didn't even know how to start looking for a job. Since I had been working for some time in a Philadelphia hospital, it seemed logical to start by applying at the nearest hospital there. I found a low-paying, going-nowhere job in their Admitting Department. It would pay the rent until I could find something else.

I continued working at the hospital for a little over a month. It was pleasant enough, but since it was a Catholic hospital, I was working with the nuns. I never had any contact with other staff nor with patients, so it didn't offer any social life for me. That was taken care of with a couple of men from Philly who made the trip to see me, and by a seemingly endless stream of roommate's BF's co-workers and clients he insisted on bringing to meet me - each one worse than the last. But one morning I missed my bus to work, and had to call a cab. The cab driver was a college guy, and we got along very well. Didn't have to ride the bus any longer. He then introduced me to his sister, who was pregnant and therefore leaving her job. She took me to meet her boss - a local dentist. I got the job.

Through my work as a Dental Assistant, I met my future husband, and a year later we married. I'm sure I have covered that story before in earlier posts. But until then, I really enjoyed working for the doctor. He had another office in Manhattan where he worked two days and some nights during the week. The other three days and a half day on Saturday, I assisted at the chair. The rest of the time I developed X-rays, kept the lab clean, made appointments, and sent out bills, but it was a real pleasure to have the place to myself most of the time. I would lock the door at lunch time, and eat in the waiting room to the accompaniment of the radio. The office was just down the street from our apartment - and later, when I moved out on my own, it was still not far away.

After our marriage, I was a stay-at-home housewife, and 14 months later, a mom. That is the way it remained for the next twenty years, except for a brief foray as a Tupperware dealer when Ralph had his first heart attack.

Two years after Ralph's death, we moved from Long Island to Cape May County, New Jersey, near my mother and sister. And then the job search began once again.

It had been a long time, and I wasn't really ready to plunge into the working world again. I was still in a rather zombie like state, unwilling to accept the idea that my husband was not coming back. I was still going through the motions of daily living, without fully participating in it. That took me a long time. But I decided I needed to find at least a part time job. I found one. Just a few hours a day, in a Foto Booth. Do you remember them? Pre-digital days. The kiosk was in the local shopping center parking lot. I've always been crazy about photography, and it wasn't a very demanding sort of job. Why not? I enjoyed it. I got to look at everybody's pictures. And - best of all - that is where I met Wyetta. We quickly found we had a great deal in common. And she was as much of a photo nut as I was. Her kids were about the ages of mine, and that is always a great thing among friends. We made many a trek to the Point, or to Leaming's Run, or any place we could find where we enjoyed taking pictures and just soaking up the beauty of nature, sometimes just the two of us, sometimes with the kids. I was even able to set up a dark room of sorts at home. Good times.

Well, eventually the time came when I felt a real need to find a full time job. One of the regular patrons of the Foto Booth was a township cop, and he suggested that I apply for a job with the township. The pay wasn't anything wonderful, but the benefits were, and that mattered to me, since I still had two of the girls at home. Hospitalization as well as generous vacation time and personal days were very important to me. The hours were ideal with one still in grade school. And I lived only a half mile away, which was also extremely important since I cannot see to drive at night. I took a Civil Service Exam, came out at the top of the list, and got myself a job in the Land Use Department. By the time my youngest was 18 and the Survivor Benefits ran out, my salary at the township had increased enough to allow us to do just fine, thank you. A long, long way from the $32.50 a week that was the starting salary in 1950!

I worked for the township for 18 years. I could write a book about that alone. I don't think I want to. I retired eight years ago, and wouldn't go back for any amount of money!

And there you have it - the history of my employment. Hope you enjoyed it, Kitty. It may not have been all you anticipated. If anyone made it all the way to the bitter end - well, you were very brave. I'd like to end with "happily ever after", but "ever" hasn't arrived yet, and I guess "happily" is relative. But - I'm almost there.


Anonymous said...

What an incredible variety of employement you've had; I'm sure you could write a book if you ever wanted! It was wonderful to read about your journey, and some of the stops along the way, full of adventure, love and resilience. Thanks for sharing this !!

Anonymous said...

How interesting it is to see how lives are weaved...I often say we're all just muddling through it with random choices taking us along. Thanks for stopping by Spatter...and go Obama!

me ann my camera said...

This is wonderful and so full of tales of your fascinating employment changes. Wasn't if kind of fun in those days, as you had said in your first post it wasn't really that hard to get a job and people often made changes when they were young. I like your mention of working in a photo shop and its influence upon your love of photography. I worked in a couple of photography studios myself at one time too, one was on the east coast and the other on the west coast. Your memories have a grand influence on mine. Now to reminisce for the rest of the day. Thank you.

Dianne said...

"brave enough to make it to the very end"

what are ya talkin' bout? lol
this was a joy to read. it just flows and is interesting.

I've been trying for a township job for a while now - different times. scoring high and being capable don't count for as much.

I'd like to say - More, please.

Perhaps some really good stories of the kids as kids. Kitty will love that, start with her LOL TN said...

Hi Bobbie, go to my blog. there are six questions there for you. Don't feel obligated. Its just a good way to learn more about each other. I enjoyed reading about your employment places. Clara

KG said...

I just wanted you to know that I made it to the very end! And I really enjoyed it! :-)

Linda Murphy said...

What a great post and it was great to learn more about you.

My husband is from Long Island-exit 62. :)