So, earlier this week on FaceBook I mentioned that April 1 (many decades ago) was the day my mom started working at Neil and Spanjer Lumberyard in Hillside, New Jersey. And it was there that her life changed…
At lunch today she gave me some of the details. (I knew many of them, but others were added.)
Well, let me back up a little.
My mom was raised by a great aunt and uncle because her own mother had died when my mom was only four. The aunt’s mother also lived there so my mom was raised by three older people and probably as a result of that, she was very shy. In fact, she was voted shyest girl in her high school class. She had a lot of friends, but because of her shyness, did not really stand out in class. Knowing she would not be able to afford college, she took secretarial courses, hoping to get a job.
But this was the depression and no one was getting jobs, at least not very quickly.
Which all adds up to my mom being intrigued as to why the high school principal called her and asked if she would be interested in a job as office assistant at Neil and Spanjer Lumberyard. Why not one of the more outgoing students?
Mom was eighteen years old and any job sounded good, so she applied and was hired.
And it was a bright, balmy, warm April 1st that she first walked the mile and a half to her new job. When she got there – she went to the office (in an old house) and found the doors locked. She walked around for awhile and came back. By now, the foreman was there. He showed her where the switchboard was, but Mom didn’t know how to work a switchboard. (Why would she? Where would she have needed a switchboard?)
The foreman left and want back out to the lumber, telling his assistant foreman that they had hired a new girl and she was sort of dumb, she didn’t know how to work a switchboard. Fortunately, the secretary showed up and mom quickly caught on under her direction.
The lumberyard sold patterned wood, wood with distinctive grains such as mahogany and ebony. That first week, as customers came to the office, Mom would hear the secretary tell them to go out and ask “Craig.” The secretary would leave at lunchtime and my mom would be in the office by herself for most of the afternoon.
One afternoon, Craig himself walked in, handed her a piece of paper and said, “Would you type this for me?” (The first of the sixty some trillion times he said that to her during the next 55 years.) And then he started asking her other questions such as “Do you go to church?,” “Do you smoke?” …. all things he had put on a list. We hear conflicting stories about what happened next – something about how he wouldn’t let her leave until she gave him a kiss.
Anyhow, their first date was first a dinner at Dad’s house where his mother (my grandma) made veal cutlets. Mom hadn’t had them before, but she liked them and said how good they were. After that, Grandma always made her veal cutlets everytime she came. Friends of Dad’s then picked them up and they double-dated to a movie in Newark. (My dad couldn’t drive because of his eyes.) After the movie they went to The Novelty Bar and Grill where they ate scallops. (Veal cutlets and scallops???)
After that, they were together a lot. Dad proposed on Thanksgiving Day. On New Year’s Eve they went down to Times Square and watched the new year come in. They also spent time at Pinebrook Bible Conference (still there). They announced their engagement at a Fourth of July family gathering. Somewhere in here, they were invited to another family get-together. Dad didn’t want to go, so instead they went to another movie, thinking they would make an appearance at the end. Turns out it was a bridal shower for my mom and people had been sitting, waiting for them for more than two hours.
Dad always said he married a teenage bride. But the next day Mom turned 20.