Tuesday, March 22, 2011


My dad thought both Elayne and my time was valuable to 'the club',  so advised our time better spent if we remained home rather than find jobs in town. Of course, he was right. Figuring the time it took to drive to and from Lake Geneva or Woodstock plus fuel and car maintenance only to bring home pittance wages. Monetary value not found. We were sometimes restless wanting to earn our own, like some cash in our hands. Whereas this work for the family was investment for a future. 
This is the building where I worked

There was a time this summer of ‘45 when I did get a job at a restaurant on a corner, Main and Broad, in Lake Geneva. It was crazy work on weekends when the town swelled with Chicagoans. They weren’t campers. They had to eat somewhere so the restaurants did remarkable business. I noticed many of the young men and women vacationing came from south side of Chicago, Longwood area. These would be the same strata of people I'd soon be meeting in college. After a couple of weekends of this frantic serving up of food and mixing malteds, pie ala mode and dad’s discouraging words, I quit. 

Mother’s friend, Dorothy Russell, lived with her sister, Geraldine, and their mother in a bungalow in Milwaukee. Geraldine had happily attended a private boarding high school, St. Mary's of Prairie de Chien, WI. when she was a teenager.
Mount Mary College

Geraldine told mother these same nuns now ran a college in Milwaukee, Mount Mary, a girl’s [women’s] college. It had a lovely campus and it would be a perfect place for MaryKay to receive her college education. Marquette University wasn’t even considered. I had not any motivation to go anywhere else so I was soon enrolled for the fall semester. 

Another plan which seemed to fall into place was my Auntie Gladys had returned from Pipestone to live in the Morris family’s upstairs flat on Highland Avenue. Her husband, Joe, a Captain in the military, would soon be discharged, and she didn’t want to continue to follow him around. Auntie had  one daughter, my cousin Judy, who would be attending Gesu grade school along with our cousin, Mary Morris, one of the Morris cousins now living downstairs since grandmother’s demise. I could have my old bedroom back. Plan sounded good.  I purchased a used desk and bed, and I painted a dresser light blue. One of the room's doors opened into the bathroom. I would have mealtimes with Auntie and cousin and visits with Auntie Alice, Uncle Howie, Alice, Barbara, Doug and Karen. Additionally you will recall from earlier bloggs that Marquette University was just a few blocks down the street.  Elayne was living in A House, just a couple blocks down 12th street, in her Sophomore year at Marquette in the School of Journalism.  A House was an apartment building owned by the University  made into a dorm  for Women students. Elayne was so happy and had already lived a year here. It was grand to see her finally have close friends and a nice roommate from northern  WI.
First day of college, having not as yet worked out our meals plan, for breakfast I purchased a bowl of cereal around the corner at Wimpy’s. This set me off to a bad start indeed. The cereal was rice Krispies, snap, crackle, pop, but somehow it came loaded with sugar. Why didn't I complain? 

My itinerary: I caught   the 12th Street streetcar north to North Avenue.
Trolley Bus electricity in lines overhead, no street tracks

Here I would catch a trolley bus to 60th, then the 60th bus to Center. At Center the city made available 2 charter busses mornings and again in the evenings to deliver Mount Mary’s groups of day students right to the college door. Otherwise one would take a Center Street bus to 92nd and walk in, probably close to a mile. College was considered 'way out there' and it was. The college provided  a lounge called the DayHop room, eat lunch, nap, study, visit. Total enrollment- 400 young women. I would spend many hours riding bus and streetcars. I often rode them as recreation, hopping on one and riding to the end of its route and return to my boarding point. 
A trolleybus  is an electric bus that draws its electricity from overhead wires (generally suspended from roadside posts) using spring-loaded trolley poles. Two wires and poles are required to complete the electrical circuit.
Green grass leads to Menomonee River Drive

 Busses arrive at the college from the city side.
School Sisters of Notre Dame were just as nice as they look here

Example of a 'Pony' Latin on left- English on right

I soon learned I could get help in my Latin class with Sr. Dorthea if I purchased a ’pony’. This had all the English translations. And I’d have help to translate the lines in class. But I didn’t, really. I would memorize the day’s lesson. I had a terrific memory. I did this with history reading assignments in high school as well. Passing this class seemed like a humungous obstacle to my continuing education. Got me a ‘B’ grade. I was happy to leave it all behind me. 

My sister had a Saturday job at Schuster’s department store, corner of 12th and Vliet in the deli. She was hardly recognizable  to me wearing her required hair net which flattened her profile. She has lots of hair like me, only jet black and wavy. I followed her example and got a job at Woolworth’s 5 and 10 cent store on the same Vliet Street, both a few blocks from Highland Avenue. Many were times past Mother stopped in at a Woolworth’s for  a hot cup of coffee, days when out shopping to renew her energy. The stores were in every town. Times she would say, "Now that's a good cup of coffee." Other times it wasn't. I drank coffee only one time in my entire life. Of course, this was back in the days before Tullybrackey. And as I see only 1 gentleman on the counter stools pictured below I realize they've not all returned from the wars-- the song- 'They're either too old or too young. They're either to gray or too grassy green. What's good is in the army. What's left will never harm me. They're either too old or too young. So darling you'll never get stung. Tomorrow I'll go hiking with that Eagle Scout unless I get a call from grandpa for a snappy game of chess.' --Rosemary Clooney
Woolworth's 5 and 10  Lunch Counter    I worked at the cosmetic counter.

What is it like to leave home for an extended period of time for the first time? I breezed through on the excitement the 1st few weeks brought. After 3 weeks in I was so blue, so down, wondering how the world about me could ever make any sense to me again, like a zombie going through routine motions, outside looking in, ugh! Only responsibilities moved me forward.  I experienced homesickness big time. Was difficult to carry on. This was a loss of what once was, a threshold to the new, and no turning back. I struggled through this milieu for many hours, for days, only eventually laying the feeling to rest and moving on. College helped, work helped, extended family helped, God helped. 

A conflict ensued with my Auntie. Seems she was so lonely, had envisioned in my staying with her  I would spend a great deal more time keeping her company. I did for mealtime and cleaning up. Most other time I was traveling to and from school, at school, in my room studying, or at work. Her feelings were always right out in plain sight and before the semester was out had become a heavy, heavy obstacle for me. I am that raggedy ann type pleaser. How do I do this? I simply must have lots of study time. She couldn’t seem to understand. Mother, always the listener, heard me conflicted. She visited a few times hoping to iron out conflict. Line comes to me here- 'Get a life.' Would have helped. Didn't work. We knew we would need to make other plans for a new semester and Uncle Joe would soon return. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness, Mom, I have finally caught up. Your biography is awesome. SO much I am learning about you and your life.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this down. I only nope that it will be in print for the future generations to read.
    I love this!! PLEASE DON'T STOP!!!
    Love you,


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