Friday, August 6, 2010

Chapter 4, Part 6 - DISTASTER STRIKES

Neither of us had ever drunk alcohol and didn’t know what we were getting into. Between the two of us we polished off the entire fifth!! Needless to say, when we woke up on Monday morning, we were sicker than dogs! When the nun came to our room to wake us up, we were both throwing up and had horrible headaches. We told her that we must have either gotten food poisoning or had serious cases of the flu. She bought the story and all day long we were taken care of, nursred and waited on, even having meals delivered to our room! (After that day, I could never drink bourbon ever again – even the smell of it makes me ill).

The big mistake that we both made, was to write letters to friends explaining what happened and how we had the nuns fooled into believing that we really were sick (rather than having serious hangovers).

The day of reckoning came, when the people we wrote to, wrote us back and referred to what we had told them about how funny it was how we fooled the nuns and got waited on hand and foot.

Like I said previously, the nuns read our incoming mail. The Sister Superior read the letters we got back from our friends about our escapade. We were in deep doo doo… We were not only in trouble for what we did, but for bragging about pulling the wool over the good sisters’ eyes! This happened at the end of November, 1960 of our senior year in high school, and we were both expelled!! We were told that we could still finish our senior year there, but only as “day students” and not as boarders. It was disastrous!

Marilyn lived in Evanston so it wasn’t as much of an inconvenience for her as it was for me. My father lived in Chicago (about 20 miles away). She did finish her senior year as a day student but for me it meant I would have to take the train to Evanston each day to and from school plus walk quite a distance from the train station. This proved to be impossible for me to accomplish because it was over an hour commute each direction. I had to leave Marywood, move in with my father, and find a new school! The entire situation was a nightmare to me.

They gave us a couple of weeks to try to figure out what we were going to do. I got so distraught that I ingested a bottle of aspirin (and every other pill I could get my hands on) to try to kill myself. The only thing that happened was I got a terrible ringing in my ears and got very sick to my stomach. My second attempt at wanting to die, failed miserably. Nothing would make the nuns change their minds about expelling me….even though I apologized, cried, begged and pleaded.

I found a new school in Chicago, fairly close to where I lived, called St. Michael’s Central High School. It was a Catholic day school, no boarders. I would take the bus to and from school and kept my job at Carson Pirie Scott working on week-ends and on two nights a week after school until 10:00 PM. The uniforms were extremely ugly. The school was in an Italian neighborhood. Chicago was like that – the Jewish, Irish and Italians etc had their own sections of Chicago and stuck together. I did not fit in at all. I was miserable.

Another big difference was the fact that it was not an all girl school like I was used to. There were boys that attended the school too. My father would not allow me to date anyone. I started classes at St. Michael’s around the first part of December, 1960.

I became somewhat of a celebrity in the high school because of my modeling in the newspaper and on TV. As much as I tried, I was just not happy there and regretted so much my stupid indiscretion about the alcohol. I really looked forward to graduation so I could get out of there, and get on with my life.

This was only the beginning. My biggest disaster was yet to come…..


Right now, I am not ready to talk about what happened to me next because it is just too painful and too awful to divulge to anyone yet. I am finding it necessary to delay talking about it at this time. I do need to tell this part of my story and I will talk about it when I am ready, just not yet…

Chapter 4, Part 5 - 1960

My senior year at Marywood started out really great. I was modeling in Chicago and also was hired for a job in the Cosmetic section at Carson Pirie Scott – a very large upscale Department Store in the heart of downtown Chicago. I was making minimum wage plus commission on the cosmetics I sold. I was the youngest employee in that department. I started working there during the summer in-between my junior and senior years. I had started out as a “temp” and never knew which department I would be working in when I showed up for work each day. I started out working in the gift wrap department which paid off because I learned how to do fancy gift wrapping, plus how to make bows. There were no “ready made” bows back then. I liked working in gift wrap.

Over time, I got a permanent position in the Cosmetic/Perfume department. I had decided to work in a steadier job since modeling was sporadic at best. I spent the summer with my father in Chicago and really hated the ancient run down hotel he was living in, so getting a steady job got me out of there plus gave me an income and kept me busy. I took the bus to and from work and many times worked until 10:00 PM when the store closed. The (Plaza) hotel was about one or two miles from the department store. I remember if I worked a full 40 hour week, after taxes etc I cleared $53.28 per week which was considered pretty good back then. For example you could rent a fairly decent two bedroom apartment for $50.00 a month. Everything was a whole lot cheaper then.

My father still traveled to nearby states and was gone most of the time so I had the apartment to myself a lot. When he was home I had to sleep in a folding cot they would bring to the room. It was a very tiny apartment with a “kitchen” that was behind two folding doors. There was a restaurant in the lobby of the hotel (the “Hasty Tasty”) and we ate most of our meals there or had them delivered to the room. We did very little cooking. It was located on a corner across the street from Lincoln Park – a very large park slightly north of downtown Chicago. The hotel was about two blocks from Lake Michigan. I really hated that place with a passion. I actually looked forward to returning to boarding school!

There was an old movie theater across the street from the hotel and I found myself going to movies often, even watching the same movie over and over again. It was 25 cents to go to the movie there.

My roommate that year was a very sweet girl whose mother was terminally ill so her dad put her in boarding school. It was very difficult for her at home. Her name was Marilyn MacNamara.

Once a year there was a big event to raise quite a bit of money for the school. The students in the drama class would put on a play. At the play there was a program that was handed out with the list of actors and scenes etc. The job of the other students was to sell ads that would go in the program which is what raised the money. It was $100 for a full page ad, $50 for a half page and $25 for a quarter of a page. Many of the students had parents that owned their own businesses so it was quite a lucrative project. It was also easier for the day students to sell ads than it was for the boarders.

Each student had a “quota” of ads they had to sell. The incentive was that they would get a Monday off from school. The students that didn’t sell the quota would be required to come to school and spend all day in “study hall”.

My roommate and I just didn’t know anyone to talk into buying ads. Amazingly, we were the only two students in the entire high school that failed to sell our quota. The boarders were required to come back to school on Sunday nights after the week-ends and Marilyn and I were not only the only two boarders that had to return on Sunday night, but the only two students in the school that were going to have to spend all day Monday in study hall.

When we came back on Sunday night, Marilyn showed up with a fifth of bourbon she had taken from her dad’s liquor cabinet and she planned for the two of us to “party down”. Big, big mistake……