Let’s start in 1958, the year I graduated from High School! I started working in Dexter Shoe, sewing the backs of shoes together on an industrial machine. That was an experience by itself. I broke up with my boyfriend of 2 years. Working gave me enough money ($300.00) to pay for having a well drilled at my folks home. It would be good that the well wouldn’t go dry every summer, and we would haul water. It was kind of interesting to haul water. My Dad used metal milk cans, and we filled them from an artesian well in the wood beside the same road we walked to school. Every year we caught a small fish and put it in the well; as long as it swam, we dipped water. If we found it belly up, we replaced it and checked to see if the new one lived.
Things went along smoothly until my Aunt Betty came home to Maine for a visit. One day we were talking, and she said, “I am heading home tomorrow. Do you want to go back to South Carolina with me?” She didn’t have to beg; I quit my job, packed a bag, and jumped into her car; and away we went. When we got to South Carolina, I sent a postcard to my boyfriend that said, “Having a wonderful time, glad you aren’t here!” The next time I saw him, he was not amused, which pleased me.
Betty was fun and sooo good to, and for me! I would like to think that I was good for her too! She wasn’t much older than me and had two young children, Lori and Julie, and as a single mother, she worked hard, but we had fun, and maybe that was worth having me around.
One thing I learned about the beach was there were sand fleas! And they loved me. I used a lot of lotion, but being young, I didn’t care. I loved the beach, and by the end of summer, I had a glorious tan. Working as a carhop was a blast! I wore a uniform of; a white shirt and little red shorts. (I was l lot smaller then) I wasn’t allowed to serve liquor, so it was delivered in milkshake bottles with a straw. I was invited to go out on the Ocean for the weekend by the men I served “Milkshakes.” Being naive but not stupid, I pleaded, “busy” every weekend! I was smart enough to know if you are on the ocean miles from land; getting out and walking home was not an option if you didn’t want to party!
Betty and I had a blast seeing the sparks flying from our feet when we ran on the beach one night during an electrical storm. And no Betty, I won’t talk about the Ferris Wheel! My favorite place was a little diner that we visited often. Frankie, the owner, introduced us to what became our favorite meal, “Fried egg sandwich!” They were heavenly. I still love them to this day, and my hubby and I cook them when we are in the mood.
I dated a very nice young man, and we had a great time until I was visited by two “Men in black” inquiring about him. I, of course, asked, “What did he do?” I didn’t believe them when they said he was wanted for stealing hubcaps! Really? Maybe that was a big crime back then, but I don’t think so! I am chicken; I spilled my guts and told them everything! I can’t think of anything as intimidating as answering the door and seeing two tall men dressed in black. I observed the bulge in their jackets. That was about the time that I decided to go back North. My brother and his wife invited me to stay with them, so I packed again and got a bus ticket North. They had several rooms in a house and shared the kitchen. It was a different living situation but fun. Remember, I was young.
My introduction to the Segregated South was interesting! I was told that if a Black man spoke to me to holler “Rape,” which I thought was stupid. I was appalled by the “White only“ places of business. Being from a tiny town in Maine, I felt I had been transported to another planet!
My next shock was when I got on the bus, walked to the back, and sat next to a nice Black lady. The bus driver told me I was supposed to sit in front of the bus. He was a big guy, and he looked determined, so I moved. Once we crossed the Mason/Dixon line, I asked her to come up next to me, and we had a lovely conversation.
You already know I am a badass, right? So when my dimwit Uncle asked me if it was really segregated in the south, I replied, “Hell yes, they don’t even put Black and White cows in the same pasture!”
Stay tuned for more dating in the 60s, when I found out I lived minutes from my husband, but we didn’t meet.