memoir Newspaperpeople day 12 nanowrimo 2021

Fog, Magic hour light – by Adrienne Wilson

Newspaperpeople

  1. Towheads

The landscape opens. He didn’t want to leave you, and he wasn’t mean. This is what you will learn. Last night in the harbor remembering the boat leaving shore, the soft laps of the water. Four girls of 22, arriving wanting to pet your dog.

You tell them, the harbor is safe, the men down here are the best men you will ever meet. One of them is tipsy. You feel you know them, know what comes ahead. Not that you can, just that you want it to be better for them.

I had to learn they were all different.

They will be.

He’s standing holding Alladin in his arms like a baby, and he purrs. The bamboo rustles in the rain outside your tiny world.

He knows you are cold, and he brings a union suit, and a candle.

He builds shelves in your pantry, handy with a hammer.

The girls tell you that they don’t want Botox or butt lifts.

You smile and say don’t follow that road that they might have planned for you.

“We’re not going to,” they say.

They could be grandchildren.

How strange to suddenly be thinking like that, sending warnings across vast expanses like 40 years of time.

They are all just starting in College. You remember.

The freedom comes later.

The freedom is something that you have to carve, because there will be times it’s going to seem impossible to stay with him.

Little pieces of something that was the thing you might have wanted, once.

It might be the thing that you wanted for yourself.

How can you prevent someone from making the same mistakes that you did?

Is it even possible?

My best friend was pregnant at my wedding, something like eight months along. She wasn’t married to him yet, that would come later, as would her second child. Towheads. It’s going to be almost impossible to keep the friendship, they are buying a house in a different town, your lives diverge from being the two best friends on a beach, waves lapping at your skirts, collecting shells and dreams together.

He chose the rings.

“I want these to match,” he said.

Maybe in your mind, like Cinderella, you were expecting the down on one knee, with a flashy diamond.

That’s not how it happened though.

There isn’t going to be a Bridal Registry for you.

Maybe it is the era.

She doesn’t have a wedding either.

She’s just pregnant standing there, and your lives divide in the courthouse tower, that day. You can’t be the mothers that you planned, pushing strollers at the seashore.

She asks how much you make, and you don’t know what to say, because, the path you chose was job, and not hers, and you are afraid of her path. She has to depend on him, and you had tried that the first and second times you were in love.

It’s what she tells you later.

He controls everything.

He tells her, dropping a five dollar bill in the center of the table, that she is supposed to feed the kids on that.

She has a pack of hot dogs, and some milk for them.

You drive her to the store.

You pay for the groceries, thinking of your mother and how she did that for all her friends in the same kind of jam, when you were little. The mother who made you her best friend. The mother who mothered your best friend. Instead of you.

You are quiet driving back home, the roads curving down from Ojai.

You go back into work and realize you have to be strong.

You learn to wriggle away from the arms encircling you at the light table. You learn to stand on your own two feet, with the males at work.

She’s your best friend and the two of you are 30.

“Tell me how much you make,” she says.

“How can you?”

It seems too terrible, to name the figure. It’s not that much, actually. You cannot stand what he is doing to her. Your best friend. The two of you were only fourteen, once, full of dreams about what the future was going to hold.

They like to try and intimidate you at work.

That’s when you become fierce.

Your last act of kindness was another defloration. He’s 36, one of those tech types and he’s a virgin. At twenty nine, you cannot believe this is true, but it is.

He’s madly in love with a co-worker out at the tech place he works. You’re friends, having Thai. He starts asking you how to approach her, he is almost obsessed he is so in love. You try walking him through what to do, what might work, like sending her flowers, just because.

The reason he is in this spot?

He’s not one of the really handsome ones. It will be more difficult for guys like him.

Still, it seems so unfair, and so you offer to show him how.

Perhaps you have spent your life trying to help others.

What is experience for?

You congratulate yourself later. He manages a ten year relationship after that.

Not with her, but you helped him break the ice. He won’t have kids either.

At work in Ad Alley, you learn to perform the simple functions of the job. Taking studio classes will be where you turn. Because you have a job, you can pay for these.

In Benet’s class she has you learn assemblage. Art will be the only way you can express feelings. You learn that, quickly enough, through her.

There is a cardboard box you wrap with fluffy cotton batting, pure white over the red lights you strung inside. They glow pink under the layers. He watches while you wrap it, not understanding what it is like to get crits in Art classes. He drives you in the MGA to class, smiling. You are holding it on your lap, like the day with the Pavlova.

It’s a womb in all purity, emitting a sound you can’t remember. From the Walkman inside. You fill it with cotton balls and q-tips, those for eggs and sperm.

The grey box is set to the side.

You never open it again.

Gold ring on your finger.

You’ve said certain vows.

You’ve gotten another A.

Your best friend leaves him.

She marries another, who will raise the kids.

She begins school. She begins school after the kids are old enough, and she starts up at the lost path. She was raped too, she tells you.

“He raped me,” she says.

Years later you will write it, for the other little 22 year olds.

You don’t want anything bad to happen to them.

It hurts so much to lay it out on the pages, remembering what they had done to the two of you.

It becomes easier to work with sound, those years. You wear the Walkman to work, it gives you silence, while you paste up. You can tune all of it out.

Cardboard flats hold each ad.

There are mountains of them.

Mountains and mountains that have to run the next day or the day after, the work is never ending. So is the loyalty. To him and to this place.

You think work is like a family.

Later you will learn it isn’t.

Don’t avoid it whispers the Muse in your head. Don’t avoid talking about the hardest things, or all the things left unsaid, for the 22 year olds coming up behind you.

You don’t want them to miss having kids.

You don’t want them to miss what everyone calls perfection in this lifetime.

He left her a five dollar bill to feed her kids, on a shabby table, in her well scrubbed kitchen.

“At least you aren’t saddled with kids,” your mother says.

Suddenly you can see how you took to heart all the things she had ever said.

Your mother.

“Washers and Dryers,” he laughs, as the two of you watch them spin. You bought them for Pedregosa, yourself, at Sears. Just minis. You just want things to be clean and perfect. At all times, proving yourself to be a girl, proving yourself to your friends.

The clock going off in your head, banging like a gong.

“Fuck it,” he says.

The thermometer goes cold on the bed.

He doesn’t want the responsibility.

He should have told you, you think.

It takes years to understand.

Years later, learning to become the therapist you will become, one named Don pushes your buttons so hard, the anger wells up as tears.

“Why didn’t you have kids in your twenties?”

He has no concept of what other men are like, in his perfect little ordered world.

Does he?

He tries with EMDR to get at it. They want you cleaned out, empty of emotion, so that you can cure others.

A scented candle burns.

Birds sing outside.

The sea sings in all her colors, blue into silver, the purple out over the islands. You have managed to write past it. The hardest part. You could not have done what she had done. You could never be that vulnerable. She didn’t have a mom and dad either. You wonder where they all went?

You wonder why they couldn’t be parents.

Generation Warhol had Generation Woodstock.

Generation Warhol had no idea how hard it was going to be for their kids.

It’s easier to put pen to paper.

It’s easier to put paint to canvas.

It’s easier to try and blend it all together into purple.

How can you begin to trust men when you didn’t have a father?

You can’t.

He was supposed to be there, be there, be there, and he wasn’t.

It’s 1988.

The clock ticks.

The clock ticks until it goes off screaming in your head.

You’ll never be the girl some guy throws down $5 on a table for. Not ever.

You weep for what he put her through that year.

She and those two little towheads, that were so adorable.

Newspaperpeople Memoir by Adrienne Wilson copyright November 12, 2021 all rights reserved

memoir newspaperpeople day 11 nanowrimo 2021

Mr. Lincoln by Adrienne Wilson

Newspaperpeople

  1. Pavlova

The Pavlova is gorgeous, you’re bringing it to the Christmas Party in the MGA the two of you have, all decorated with flowers from your little garden in the tiny apartment you have behind the Craftsman on Pedregosa. You read the Los Angeles Times too, the Food Section and the Garden Section and suddenly you are pasting up color.

Sharon says, “What’s that?” as you place it on the waxing table, all covered with scratches from the years of Journeymen, and pages. It slid a bit on the floorboards, driving down, the flowers blurring into each other. You had no idea how to be a girlfriend, much less a wife. You buy magazines at the store that are going to explain how, one by one. It’s taken the place of the Winter Fruit Cocktail, you were known for. You will only stay in Grad School for one quarter. You drop when he takes over, the man that is going to be your husband.

“This is a kitchen, not a darkroom,” he says.

Suddenly you are working full time.

The paycheck doubles.

You don’t have any Seniority, though, and through her slitted eyes, she’s laughing, because she is about to move up a rung, with better hours. You are at the bottom. On that Floor. You have the full kit of Printer’s tools now. An Exacto, a Triangle, a Roller, and a Pica Pole. They engrave your initials on it.

Mr. Catamaran is too busy building a giant printing plant, to actually bother you. He’s rarely there, and it is a fun job, 2:30 to 10:00, at night. The level of camaraderie on the Floor, is best when Editorial comes down, with the blue pencils, the excitement growing, knowing that paper is coming out, the Printer’s hands fly all over the pages like birds, cutting in letters if they have to, in 6 point. The Street Final is what all of you are putting out, and Loveton jumps all over the room, wild, sweat flying off of him. The Sports Department is last. They are getting the scores right, no matter what. It’s the same on Political nights. The pages are covered in blue marks, Proof after Proof, until Editorial is satisfied. Bill, in Brooks Bros. Best dressed Newspaperman in the building. “Let’s put this paper to bed,” they smile, finally. Then the Press begins to roll, paper after paper, and we chase down any page, because anything can be fixed that late at night, in the rumble and roar, inking a million letters a day, all the words people in the City clip, for recipes, for obits, for favorite columnists, for everything actually.

They need you on Dayside for TV Week, and you have been taught to string the type. Chuck looks at you, towering over you, watching you make a mistake, and he says nothing. It’s miles and miles of type, miles that you use cotton string on to measure. If there is a mistake? Fixing it will take hours. He knows that. He’s just standing there laughing watching while you make it. The he watches while you tear it apart, and make it up all over again. Actually, that was part of the training. Becoming a Journeyman Printer was one of the hardest jobs I ever had. Ad Alley was going to be easier, somewhat.

Wenke is nicer than Bill had been. Ad Alley has Judy, and their own typists. New people are coming in, one by one. You will float, back and forth, with Joby to do whatever is needed. She had come from Offset, which they closed down.

You ask to learn Mark-Up, but it is too hard. Suddenly there will be the Camex Breeze.

Suddenly all of you will have to learn a new way of doing things.

There are electronic pens attached to huge tables, and a TV set is in front of you.

There are so many new women in the room, sitting at the sets. They’ve come in from outside, but mostly all locals, needing jobs. Many are educated, climbing ladders of their own, wanting to be in charge. Suddenly Wenke and Jed are the last two old timers. In Ad Alley.

You create the ads, and they come out intact.

The machines cost thousands of dollars.

The Printing Plant will also cost millions, it’s being built at the edge of the city. It’s going to be printing everything for miles around. Kim works in Systems, and Thad, and Sturtzenegger, all bearded and plaid, and they are raising the floor and laying in cables and everything is hurtling into the future, very fast. Sales reps come in to put you through trainings, State of the Art.

There are fonts, upon fonts, upon fonts, upon fonts. In the Art Department, they get the Macintosh that has even better fonts. None of the computers can talk to each other. All of them are different systems.

Suddenly it is the era of The Manifests. Hundreds of manifests, for every single thing, every ad. Nightly it prints out, green and white, and sprocketed edges. Everything is checked off against it.

It’s keeping track.

The Press is calling us DINKS, you see that headline “Dual Income No Kids” and it isn’t what you want. Under the floor the wires seethe like snakes, full of venom, we are becoming machines that have to work on software some guy planned.

I was a girl.

I was a female.

I wanted a baby and everything had become science in those years.

I hadn’t extracted my eggs.

It’s 1987.

The ring slips onto your finger.

My period was so heavy in those years I had to call in sick, sometimes, because of the cramps. They told me a baby would fix that, at 20. Now I was thirty, and I was chained to my job. Don’t make my mistake.

Tarrer comes down, and comes up behind me at the light table.

His hands plant themselves on both sides of me. At the table. I wriggle to escape it.

Do these machines emit radiation? I think to myself.

They might.

Planned Parenthood has given me a book on Fertility awareness. I’m going to have to use the thermometer. I want this for the two of us. We need a baby. We are four years together when we decide. But we aren’t on the same schedule anymore, and we are both exhausted most of the time. It’s hard for us to even be together.

I move from the hill down to his place, and because I am now a wife, I take on what I think wives are supposed to do. Magazines are going to be teaching me. At Von’s there are rows and rows of them that I study.

Fashion is leaving me.

I’m being drained dry.

We remodel a place, get our first pups out at Santa Barbara Humane.

We are a family at last.

The four of us and Alladin, and more cats I rescue.

We make a kitchen, and host our first Thanksgiving. We put in skylights.

I’m his third marriage, and Margaux and Carol call all the time wanting to talk to him, and I don’t know what to say.

He’s my third love.

I mean it when I take the vows, at last. “Till Death Do Us Part.”

I’m not going to live my mother’s life.

He’s not going to live his father’s life.

I won’t know this for years.

Cathy sitting on the Camex, she’s the oldest of all of us, always calling in sick, having operations. We have to get the ads out, this team of girls. Lori steps up, taking over. Joan and Lisa and Kirsten. Sheena, the wildest of all of us.

“I throw darts at a map,” she says. “I only work because I want to travel.”

She’s back from Paris, sprawled, making all of us laugh at her freedoms.

Sheena, with a name like that how could you ever go wrong?

Joan’s just graduated from Art Studio, painting massive Abstract Expressionism from her studio, on Ortega. I tell her, “don’t give it up.”
She’ll head north, like Lisa and Joan and Judy and Thad. They’re going to Portland, heading to the green places in Oregon soon. The Oregonian. So will Rhonda. She’s on the floor now, cracking jokes, and all of us love her. Her father in law had once run accounting.

“I’m looking for a Yellow Violet man,” she says. Before moving.

“That’s what his aura is going to be.”

Finally we buy ourselves a little nest.

It’s a Craftsman, from the 1930’s.

It’s the place we are going to be able to start our family.

Our bedroom has all the purity in the world. White eyelet curtains, the kind of windows that barely open, because you have to push them up and down. We become Westsiders. It’s all we can afford. We love the house. It’s formidable, and we are close to downtown. Minutes from our jobs.

The guy who does our taxes is an old High School friend of his.

Suddenly, I understand that marriage is going to mean all kinds of new things I hadn’t thought about. Things men knew about, and I did not.

“We want to start a family,” I say. My voice is little and tiny then.

“Children should be seen and not heard” was the rule in my family, growing up.

You will earn that every family has rules.

He’s doing our taxes, and I say this in a friendly way.

“I want to stay home and make pottery, and sell it at the Beach show.”

“You can’t do that,” the accountant says. “It’s going to ruin your retirement.”

I’m the third wife.

I don’t count.
The accountant was divorced, too.

From his first wife.

He ran the biggest accountancy firm in town.

Suddenly we have a garden.

Paperwhites for the 1930’s return.

The thermometer is cold.

The bed is warm.

The Jazz thunders through the house.

It’s only at work, or on the street, men will say things like “Nice day for something,” or “When is the baby coming?”

I still plant pansies, the first flower I loved best at 13.

I carry the Roses, from Red Rose Way to the house. In they go.

There is a red rose at our house.

The house of the truest love.

The house that we call home.

My mother loved him so much. She felt he was the perfect man for me. That first Christmas in our new house she sat before the fireplace in what was our formal living room. Sheena and some of the girls from work came over. I baked tons of Christmas cookies that year. In the living room, we had a Batchelder tile and the best fireplace on earth.

“Why don’t you just stay home and work on this place? Sheena perks up.

Little does she understand there are now two mortgages. Two.

Other people will be raising their children, in our old house. We will be having to pay for that. With our souls.

Strapped to a machine, that is possibly emitting radiation at me, I start to get scared.

How am I ever going to get to be a stay at home mom, like I want to be?

Is it even going to be possible?

I was only 30.

He was 45.

The girls around me are all leaving work, heading into marriages, where they are going to get to be mothers.

I’m going to be a girl who has to pay for mortgages.

How come had to be that girl, I ask myself later.

Carol calls all the time, drunk out of her mind, for my husband. She is still in love with him and I keep waiting for him to say something to her, like “These calls might not be a good idea.”

All the men are having vasectomies that year.

They don’t want any kids.

They tell us, in the print magazines, that we need to freeze our eggs, in case we want to have children later, but I don’t want to.

The doctor tells us, we might have to try artificial insemination.

It becomes a science project in those years.

Lying on the table, you realize the world you live in is controlled by men.

“The Old Boy’s Club,” is what we called it then.

Joby lives with Andy.
“I don’t think I could have a child, “ she says. “If anything ever happened to my child, I don’t think I could take it.”

She’s a DINK too.

“Why did they do this to us?”

I was a girl.

Not a man.

I was a girl.

I thought men were going to care about me.

Do you know what they wanted?

They wanted to get laid.

They wanted a worker.

They wanted a machine.

So they could have one.

It would take until 2021 when they built the female robots.

They had managed to wipe us from the face of the earth.

Now they really didn’t have to be fathers did they?

They planned on heading up to Mars and Venus. They were no longer even on planet Earth with us. Were they?

I ask myself to keep on pressing these keys, the ones that they designed, for these keyboards. Suddenly I see I am at 19,875. I’m so close now to 20,000 that I might as well go for it. The girl who was taught to never learn to type, the girl whose keyboard is now on fire, because this girl became a writer.

Not only that?

This girl became a writer who knew all about how to write LOVE.

I was the girl who lived on Red Rose Way once.

I was the girl who once believed in Cinderella, just like you.

We take to the mountains, when we can. Into the high snows of Yosemite, and he drives, he knows how to gather the wood, he knows how to catch the trout, he knows how to pitch the tents, he knows the best routes to travel. He’s the man and you are the woman.

He’s the man you married.

Memoir Newspaperpeople by Adrienne Wilson copyright November 11, 2021 all rights reserved

Memoir newspaperpeople day 10 Nanowrimo 2021

Newspaperpeople

  1. Two years pass, and you are graduating UCSB, not tangled up in love, strongly focused, the proudest day of your young life, donning the cap and gown. In women’s history as an elective, you had been asked a question. “How will your life be different from your mother’s and grandmother’s?”

Years later you know the answer.

It’s going to be sad.

You won’t get to have children.

Men control what we can and cannot do.

They do.

I wanted a child. But I knew I never wanted to be like my mother, trying to raise children after a divorce. I wanted a solid, strong father for my children. By 28, that clock was ticking so loudly it screamed in my head. My best friend, and I, at fourteen, down on the beach at Butterfly, talking about how we would be pushing our strollers, wearing all that vintage lace we wore then, lace floating into seafoam, girls wearing periwinkle shells for necklaces just to be different from the puka shell girls.

By then, and I don’t think either of us had marriage as a goal in. High School, we had navigated the shoals of terrible relationships that had broken our hearts. Having fathers might have helped us. We didn’t that summer of 14.

Twenty eight and suddenly Alan is grabbing your jelly sandals at work and tossing them back and forth to Tony on the back dock. He’s so incredibly handsome, with a badger stripe of white down the center of his sandy dark hair.
What happens between you begins slowly and flirtatiously. You remember seeing him when you had worked in the cage, once, with the woman he was dating at that time, and thinking it, the handsomeness. On the floor, you’re all just friends, those breaks on the back dock. Flirty. Alan and Cathy. Suddenly, in the cold winter nights, warming up your Audi, the two of you look over at each other in the parking lot, night after night.

You didn’t know he had been married twice before then.

Margaux flirts with him. All the women do. It’s that body he had.

The best looking man in the entire place.

You knew he didn’t love her.

The typists hated her. That night at Wendy’s, after which they call you a food snob for liking the French food at Charlotte, better than their smelly Picadilly burgers, they raked her over their steely coals. Her clothes were too tight and she wiggled and jiggled in all the right places in the way that women do. He had lifted her out of her marriage, I suppose.

You realized then, the power of the women in that typing pool, all that cluck and peck.

After the two of you start dating, the gossip must have gone off the charts, with all of them. Suddenly you have the handsomest man in the whole building.

They didn’t like it.

By then, Harold was gone, and Gabe was dead. He’d had a heart attack, after he was dumped by the plastic pocket protector shortie that came out from Florida to run things. Mr. Catamaran. He likes to make fun of your gorgeous designer clothes, from behind, and he is the first shit you will meet during the years of the newspaper shuffle.

He promotes a machinist into position. Hurtling him to what will be the top with lightning speed.

Sharon, in her masculine chinos, says, “Well, I guess you found somebody to pay off your student loans now.”

The hatred was so pure, out of her. Those slitted eyes. Her angry everything. She must have really hated me, that day they sent me the credit card from American Express and all the guys on the Floor laughed.

“Are you a graduating senior making more that $10,000 a year?”

Suddenly I had the same card my Grandfather and Uncle had.

Little did she know I was responsible for paying off my debts, myself.

No wonder I wanted to be up in Editorial.

I pined for it actually.

For one thing all the women were fashionable especially Cissy. She was married to one of the best photographers who taught at UCSB, and Gary, all leather jacketed and cool. They were hip, and things upstairs were about to change.

Linda was brought in from outside and she pulled Gil the Gardener’s column.

It was tragic.

Suddenly we weren’t a small town paper.

At Robinson’s I ran into Joan in the dressing room, where we were both trying on clothes. She was shaking. That’s how it was in those years, with the kind of meanness that was saturating the entire place. I don’t know how most of us took it.

We formed pockets of friends in corners, those years.

I will say Mr. Catamaran did one good thing. He gave Wenke a gold watch for retirement. Like the Newspapermen were supposed to get.

They broke up the associations by making promises of big money.

It was the era of Wellness.

Suddenly the fantastic insurance we all had?

Was split into plans. There were four to choose from, and the executives had the best one. Suddenly we were in the era of Middle Manager, upon Middle Manager, like tiers. Most of them were pretty stupid and how they got there?

Was by kissing ass.

I was never going to dress like some of the women at the paper who were using their sexuality to climb the corporate ladder.

One of the reporters upstairs, who was a clone looks-wise for Hefner’s Benton, those mini dresses and boobs on parade? The men in Composing nearly fell all over her. All she did was bend over after bend over near them.

All of us watched.

All the women’s eyes collectively rolled.

Most of them had kids, or were single mothers and those were the only women the men actually respected.

“The best thing you could do is marry him,” Joby warned me.

It was three years of push and pull to give up my freedom. I knew that once I said yes, my whole life would change.

Harvey became our boss.

The feelings we had after Gabe was gone, would be impossible to explain, all that Italian charm he had. Harvey was the opposite. His father ran the Camera Department and he was a small town boy. Harold was gone and suddenly his wife Vicky was running Sue’s old job of dummying the paper.

They concentrated on busting up the unions we had in Pre-Press and Press and Camera and Composing. The company back east who bought the paper was very famous in New York. Suddenly they were bringing in people from all over, not Santa Barbara people. It had always been a small town paper and not like big city style. They were buying up papers all over.

Do you know what Harvey did to me?

He ruined my wedding.

One of the first rules was that no two people could be off on the same day in Composing.

So that meant no honeymoon.

Can you even imagine that?

Getting married and you can’t have a honeymoon?

That is how shitty it was.

Suddenly we were being ruled by a machinist who had come up from the dirty, greasy bowls of the building down in the basement.

Of, course, his father was happy.

He was a small town boy, and his dad got him the job.

Again I faced being terrified in a man’s world.

By Harvey.

Do you know what he said to me?

I went in to tell him we were going to be married.

“You let me know the date, and I’ll let you know your options,” he said, with a sneer.

I never had any proper wedding pictures. We had one day off, and it was right back to work. I had resisted, at first. How could I have understood what it was going to be at 28?

By then they were selling off the Goss.

George Anton was gone.

George who had made me my Pressman’s hat.

George whose Louisiana rumble and laugh, the best Pressman ever, so warm and so kind, chasing those pages night after night the way we did, never a mistake, we caught them all.

He made me a hat from the cartoon insert, on a Sunday.

All the decency of the paper was gone. Toward the people.

He was in his early 30’s then.

I was 28, and my husband was 42.

After we married the phone calls started coming.

It was Margaux, and Carol his second wife. She worked there upstairs, running the Library. She and Sue.

Most of the time we were on separate schedules, and we didn’t have the same days off.

Joby became my closest friend in those years, and a few of the typists, like Myrna. She would be going to Pacifica, too. Down the road.

Tony had planted himself in my apartment, and he didn’t want to leave, so, I had been taking pottery as an art class down at Schott Center, with all the finest teachers, after UCSB. I went trough a full range of all the Studio Art classes at City College, and he bought me a Brent.

I still have it.

Barbara my teacher, said “he must really love you,” to me.

It would be all the potters in the class who threw me a Bridal shower.

I never had a chance to have a wedding, really. We married standing on the compass rose in the tower at the Courthouse.

Three years from the day he sent me three dozen peach roses at work. When they came into the Composing Room it must have been a first. The gasps and sighs from the women at the sight of them. I married a gentleman. Our first date at Jimmy’s, he ordered a Martini.

You will learn it takes many years in a marriage, to know your husband.

I had married an artist. I had married an intellectual, and he was an Englishman, to boot.

Newspaperpeople Memoir by Adrienne Wilson copyright November 10, 2021 – all rights reserved

MEMOIR NEWSPAPERPEOPLE DAY 9 Nanowrimo 2021

I still have my pica pole! Opening of book is quite sad, but, girl survives so it’s all going to be fine – this was a too we used at newspapers once – a very special kind of ruler that all printers had.

Newspaperpeople

  1. Tangerine

Harold must have been 60 then, the Nightside Foreman, on the floor. Everything was based on Seniority, then. To get anything you had to move through the ranks, like days off or weeks off. I only worked four hours a night, so I had a fixed shift. But I wanted, well I hoped, to make it up to the Third Floor where the writers were. That was the coolest place in the building and they had the best desks. The women up there seemed free, as if there was no meanness. Harold was so kind to me, but I was bored just proofreading, and I wanted to learn more. After all, I was a student at UCSB, wasn’t I?

I was being exposed to all the art in the world, at 23, and all the history in the world out at school. I had three jobs that year. In the Arts Library out at school, part time, Work Study, and two at the paper. Proofreader and on weekends, Measurer of all the ads. In those days we climbed the corporate ladder, as women. We knew we would have to do that, to get ahead.

The writers had the best job in the building, and they were the best people you could ever meet. I found myself heading up to the Third Floor all the time, those weekends, where Bill Milton worked. His wife Becky worked there too.

“Can you teach me how to write?” I asked him.

“Here kid, do a rewrite on this hed,” he said, pulling a story off the hook of the City Desk.

That was in my spare time, non-paid, after I finished all the measuring down in Advertising.

Harold was the sweetest boss I ever had, in the early years. It was a combination of sweetness and mean in there, because the old timers had been the last to really do Hot Type, and they had worked for newspapers when it was hot metal lead. In the 70’s, the changeover had been to cold type, and this was done by computers called VDT’s – they were not like the computers of today at all. They had black screens with green letters. I don’t think there was a “systems department” yet. Maybe the guys up in Editorial ran it? At first.

Later, there would be so much tech, the entire job changed.

After that mistake I made, and after that man was out of my life, for good, my life became easier. I was working very hard, to get more money, of course, but to advance on the job. I asked Harold to let me run the Pacesetters, when I finished proofreading for the night.

That was going to be my start, on the Floor. Plus I was with the fun guys, Alan and Tony and Jack Collins. The Nightside paste-up crew was the funnest. Sharon and Jackie worked on the floor at night.

Dayside didn’t have any females on the floor – the women on Dayside had the best schedules, so the rest of us, on Nightside? We missed every holiday, like say Christmas Eve, any old eve of any old Holiday because we had a paper to put out. Daily.

Harold was married, but he had a lover at the paper named Sue who used to dummy the pages. That means, she was responsible for the layout. Her office was above the Advertising Department, that held a sea, a veritable sea of faces, Like Rick Carter and Sarah Sinclair and Joe LaFontaine and Wes Ginther. We had the best Christmas parties in those years.

Not having Seniority?

Made many people’s lives Hell in that place.

It was about to get worse, after the first buy out.

All the sales reps were very loved by the advertisers, and so big gift baskets would arrive out in Advertising, and they always shared with us. Like say, See’s Candy. The biggest boxes. Most of us, were going to meet our partners at work, because of the nature of the place and the hours.

We had the best parking spots in town, because we worked there. We could just pull right in, because we worked there, and it was the year before we had to start wearing badges. Everyone could just walk right in, like going into a market.

The more I think about it now, it was the computers that ruined everything. It was a fun job before that.

You know why we had to wear those badges, after?

At the back dock entrance?

It was locked because the computers were considered more valuable, than us.

If you knew how had it was to put out a daily paper on those computer systems?

You wouldn’t even believe it.

We never saw it coming.

Nor did we expect the heartless bosses.

Our parties were at the Old Miramar for Christmas and Peg was like a shining beam of happiness. Joy was the executive secretary for Mr. Sykes and Mr. Plet. It was like the whole town was under control in those days. Because of what T. M. Storke had built. Every day I walked under his tower at UCSB, and every day I ate lunch at the UCEN. Usually California Health salads, because, well, we are Californians, aren’t we? So I was learning to eat again, after that guy was no longer in my life.

At home I ate things like Oatmeal.

I had to force myself at first, to stay alive after him.

So when Harold used to burst out singing Tangerine from the 1940’s when he saw me wearing that orange arty smock, I burst out laughing.

He had been in WW2 at the beaches in Normandy. Many of the old timers had.

One thing about all of us?

We had great jobs. In those days.

At Christmas, and at Thanksgiving, there were two traditions. We were all given bonuses, and out by the door at the back dock? Everyone got a bag with a complete dinner, with all the fixings on those eves. Because at that time, it was TM’s crew. It was all one big Christmas Party from the minute November started. I don’t think I really realized just how gossipy it was going to be.

It was because there were short timers and long timers.

The long timers held the whole place together, because they had worked there for years. Tony told me he started in 1963, three weeks before JFK was assassinated. He started in the hot type era, himself. He had made the transition to cold type, and he and Alan and Jack and Eddie and Vern ran the floor at night. The only people in the building after 5:00 were the Composing Room, Editorial, the Camera Department, the Pressmen and whoever was the night Switchboard Operator.

That place was ALIVE with News.

Day in and day out.

We were a morning paper at the time, and it was delivered by paperboys.

That is how Gabe Renga started there.

Tony told me he started as a paperboy.

Our Christmas parties on Nightside, were the talk of the whole building. We fed them all, all those Editors on the late shift. Composing’s job was over at 10 p.m. There were three editions, the Valley Edition, The Home Edition, and the Street Final in those years.

Harold had his spiked punch, and all of us, every last one of us, had things to bring, on Nightside. People that had Avocado trees, well, we were never at a loss. Or orange trees, or clementine trees for that matter. Harold’s warm smile is a thing that can never be erased from my mind, not ever.

Or Jack Collins and that Christmas Fudge he was famous for.

At night the editors worked the hardest, because for the Street Final news had been breaking all over the world, all day long, and that had to be put together.

Jack was a member of MENSA, and he was one of the smartest and funniest men I have ever met. He also smoked, and so did Jed, right inside the building. You were allowed to at that time in the early 80’s.

Oh, believe me there is a reason people up in Editorial drank so much.

Most writers do.

Can you even imagine what it is like to produce the news for an entire town?

That’s what we did every single day.

From my desk, in the proofreading room, which only had Margaux in it, during the day, and me in it at night, the whole flux and flow of the place was something we could see whenever we looked up from the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of lines we were reading, then reading again. Over and Over.

Then the guys on the floor, and those night editors were reading everything all over again, and we had Jim Brown come down, those years, with the sweetest face. Another of the kind ones, the Newspapermen.

There isn’t a way to describe exactly, how warm my feelings are for all the people I knew.

It wasn’t just a job to us.

I see Dave Loveton. I see Jack Collins. I see Pat O’Hara.

I see all of us, with all of our Christmas cookies, and Jack and I, those cigs on the back dock with him. Looking up at the stars, because there was a power outtage that night, someplace, and a transformer had blown out. But we had a paper to put out. It wasn’t going to matter how long any of us stayed, to do so.

That’s just who all of us were. The long timers.

I guess I must have felt like that, with only three years under my belt, in 1983.

I can see Joan Crowder and Cissy and Gary and Dewey and Marilyn. I can see Jenny Perry and Mary Every, I can see Lois Sorg.

I can see Harold smiling at me now, That little girl of 23 who he gave a bottle of Glenlivet to, and I must have given a bottle of Bushmills to, that year.
We are the Newspaperpeople.

And all over the world, in little towns everywhere there are people just like us.

There always will be.

  • -30 –
  • Newspaperpeople copyright November 9, 2021 by Adrienne Wilson – all rights reserved Nanowrimo 2021

MEMOIR #NewspaperPEOPLE DAY 8 #NaNoWriMo 2021

Newspaperpeople

  1. Roads

If only I could have predicted the road ahead. In my generation, we fell in and out of so many arms. In 1982, that became dangerous. There was a disease. Suddenly it appeared on the scene. Out of nowhere it came, and I was worried for Stevie B.

To wipe him out of me, there would need to be others.

Dennis Dunn told me to say one sentence. It was, “I can never see you again.”

I said that over the phone. It was going to be the last time I ever said a sentence to him.
By that time the grey box of photographs weighed a ton. I would sit on my Murphy bed and look at them sometimes. It was hard not to. My friend Bob at work started to scavenge a darkroom for me. He was finding all the parts for it, all over town, because we had Brooks Institute here in town. He found me a Leica, too. M2.

I said the sentence into the phone.

He didn’t listen.

Hardly anyone listens to girls.

He didn’t listen. Instead, one day when I came home from school he had scaled the balcony of my apartment on Fig, and broken in.

I got home from school and he was sitting in my apartment.

Imagine that.

A girl who he was causing to think about driving into a cement pier on the side of the freeway every single day, and he did not give one fuck.

“I hate to think of you sitting up there all alone waiting for me, “ he said.

“Dennis told me I could not see you ever again.”

He didn’t care. He just pushed me down on that Murphy bed.

Then he zipped up and drove home.

Imagine a girl, crumpled into a ball weeping, after what he had done.

You might have to survive all kinds of things in your twenties, just to stay alive, and I want you to be as strong as me. If you need a therapist you can find one. You are going to stay alive no matter what. Dennis Dunn kept me alive. Once a week I went to see him. Maybe for six months. Little did I know, that the next time I saw Dennis, I would be telling him I was going to get married.

“That’s a good idea, “ he said.

I never met a bigger angel than Dennis Dunn.

Hacker was the first I invited to my apartment to spend the night. I broke the spell with him, and I don’t know if I ever told him that. We were only brief together, arms around each other, two artists. He would come over now and again, and we would sleep together. That foam pad made me feel sorry for him. You might feel sorry for some of them, in your life too. So when that 19 year old asked me for help? I was 22. Sure, I said. One night stands had pretty much been the rule in those years according to men. I was already quite experienced in the years past 19, so now that I think of it, I had in in love twice. I decided to be just like men, with their kind of freedoms. Why not?

In that era we all did.

The fact that her wrote me a love poem after that one night?

That’s what mattered.

Because he was sleeping with a poet, that night.

He brought that poem to me at work, at my desk, to say thank you.

Then he was off to medical school. I never saw him again.

Hacker and I palled around a little, like friends. My friends came over, for my vats of things. I was a girl who had her own apartment, just like an adult.

Suddenly one of the works of Hacker’s was up on my wall, next to those framed photographs of the two of us, the photographer had given me.

Hacker made it easier not to think of driving into a cement wall, because I had been so much in love with a total liar.

Imagine a guy running out of a restaurant to ask a girl for a date, and he was the dishwasher at The Paradise.

I was just walking down the street, across the street from the paper.

“You have to be my date,” he said.

He had to be two inches from me, face to face on Anacapa.

People here didn’t really go out clubbing like I had done with all my friends.

There was only one dance place, really.

Because I had my job at the newspaper, I could feed all my friends. The boys I knew then were always hungry. Most of them still lived at home.

Jim and Stevie B. were the two most fun people I knew, because Jim would drive Stevie up. He was Bisexual, and he was one of the handsomest men I would ever meet in life. Ever. So, we were just friends then. Did we ever go out on the town when Stevie was up. We went everywhere together, the three of us. Girls like me did not go out alone. We went on dates, and the guys were either lovers or chaperones. A girl alone in a bar? This was not done.

Stevie was from Pasadena, and so was I.

He was a charmer.

They were gentlemen.

The place where Hacker lived was by the best Theatre in town, for stage plays. Lots of artists lived in the little wooden places there. It was a hotbed for them. Men can get by with less than women need, in many ways. But for them, there was always going to be another woman around, if they needed a bed for the night, for instance.

I was a girl who had her own apartment.

I was a girl who had a job.

Judy worked for one of the meanest men in the Composing Room. He was the nightside boss in Ad Alley and his name was Bill. To say that being the proofreader was one of the hardest jobs in the whole building? It was, because you would not even believe what we had to read, nightly. Not only that, but everything had to be correct. Ever single letter. Every single punctuation mark, every single line of type.

I was that girl.

The only harder job, was going to be the Floor.
Judy had the hardest job in Ad Alley, under the meanest boss I ever saw. To say that men gave us a hard time in the early 80’s at work? Is only the beginning.

They had been hardened, working there, because in those days every single town had a newspaper. They had seen it all, the murders, the deaths, the obits, the all in all of a town. Advertising was how the paper was able to print itself.

So there were two parts to the paper.

Editorial & Advertising.

Bill didn’t like me. His eyes were cold and mean.

Sharon didn’t like me. Her eyes were hardened slits.

Maybe it because of the way I dressed, then.

Maybe I worked in the meanest part of the building.

Maybe everyone seemed mean because nothing could go wrong.

Not one letter could be off.

Nothing could be wrong.

And all of us cared.

You think the Reporters had it easy? No.

People like Gil the Gardener, had it easy. The columns he wrote were fun and full of metaphor.

Judy did Mark-Up, and mark up was the hardest job in the world. It was kind of like math, in the Cold Type days.

I made a mistake.

It was the worst mistake anyone could ever make at the paper, and it was humiliating.

It was for a Jewelry store in town, maybe at Christmas, that year. They were having a sale, and somehow, somehow, somehow, the typists had typed the whole thing twice, and I had proofread the whole thing twice and it had been pasted up twice as two columns, and it was the SAME two columns, twice and when it came back to my desk, I read the material twice. The only problem was? It was only supposed to be one column. I had read the identical material twice, when. I was the one who was supposed to catch that kind of thing. I read for both Editorial and Advertising at night, in those four hours.

The ad ran in the paper.

I’ll never forget the day Gabe called me into the office, and Bill was sitting in there.

Bill was glaring at me.

Gabe handed me the paper.

Bill said, “Look at this mistake.”

It was my fault.

Not only was a man terrifying me at my apartment, but now a man was terrifying me at work. I was going to be spending the next 20 years of my life, with bosses who terrified me.

I hope you never get a job like that.

I hope you never get a job where some men can make you feel really small, like I felt that day. Not from Gabe, who was my boss, but from Bill.

After that, he rode me.

Every single night.

I was so scared to proofread after that, as I returned to my desk, that I knew I was never going to let Gabe down again.

I felt like it was all my fault, but it wasn’t. The typists hadn’t noticed they had typed the ad twice, the paste-up person in Ad Alley hadn’t noticed he had pasted up the whole thing, twice, and by the time it got to me? Well, it was in something like 3 point, Times Roman, maybe.
Seeing the printed piece?

That I had not caught it?

I would never make a mistake like that ever again.

This was going to be even more important when I got to the Floor.

Can you even imagine how the Publisher felt?

Getting that call from the Advertiser?

Can you imagine how Gabe felt?

I had let Gabe down. I thought I was going to be fired.

I wasn’t.

It was part of the great learning curve that is life.

All of life is a series of roads you will take. But nobody knows where those might lead at 22.

Judy’s job was one of the hardest in the Composing Room, and she was in a man’s world, just like I was. Most of the women? They were just typists. It didn’t matter. We all had jobs. We had all gone to work.

Now that I think of it?

So was mine.

That was a full page ad.

I will never know how Gabe must have been raked over the coals after it ran.

Then it went down the chain of command, one by one, until it got to the girl who had made the mistake.

I never made a mistake like that again.
It was the road to be a Journeyman Printer.

At that time, I didn’t know I would be taking that road.

It was the road of honor, and of duty.

From the littlest paperboy right on up to the top of the Tower, where the Publisher sat.

Memoir Newspaperpeople by Adrienne Wilson copyright November 8th, 2021, all rights reserved #NaNoWriMo2021

NEWSPAPERPEOPLE MEMOIR NANOWRIMO2021 Day 7

Self Portrait 1982, myself – UCSB student in my first studio apartment on the tiny balcony it had, first garden

Newspaperpeople

  1. Places

Places the heart goes. I wish I could stop you, from getting hurt, like I did, so I will just repeat, don’t be a dumb girl. When you get to college.

The first thing that happened was that TA, who was in charge of all my grades, and he was married too. His wife had just had a baby, and guess who he was following trying to carry her books across the campus? Me.

I was there to study Art History.

After the mess of that first quarter full of D’s and F’s because 1981 was the worst year of my life, I knew it would take years to get my GPA back up. So you never want to let your GPA fall. Just don’t.

Alan helped me find my first little apartment and it was on Figueroa Street, right across from the Police Station. It was behind an old Victorian house from the turn of the century, and it was one in a row of three studio apartments over garages. Like most things in Santa Barbara, every square inch was rented out, to somebody. But I was 22 and I had my own studio apartment at last! I had a tiny little balcony off my kitchen, and I planted my very first garden out there, in pots. I went down to Home Improvement, because that was my first job after High School, that was serious. My mom had gotten me my first job. I was a model for Trunk Shows at Robinson’s. Alan’s girlfriend Cathy had a sister that lived in the front house, and I could walk to work, if I wanted to.
Suddenly I had three rooms all to myself, and they were from the 1930’s. I had a Murphy bed, that folded down from the wall, so when it was folded up? I had a living room! Futons didn’t exist yet, at least in America. I had my own kitchen! I had a parking spot! I was becoming grown up at last. I had utility bills to pay.

I was learning how to cook.

There was only one problem.

He followed me.

The post cards kept on coming, and they came to work, too.

I started seeing a therapist, who I met because he was the boyfriend of the man who ran the Arts Library out at UCSB. When I think of all the actual angels who have crossed with me in life? I am probably the luckiest girl on the face of the earth.

The panic attacks had stopped and now I had a plan. A safety plan.

At work, because I was in the Composing Room, I didn’t have to take his calls anymore. If the phone rang at my place at night, I didn’t have to answer it.

My therapist Dennis was like the biggest angel I ever met.

He said one sentence to me.

“You have to get away from this man.”

He was right.

So when that married TA tried with me, I was secretly laughing. No way, not ever, not ever, I thought to myself about him. All he ever talked about was something called “The Snuggery.”

Except that night I threw my first party. I invited everybody.

I began the process of splitting up with him by deciding to date others.

By my second quarter, my grades were going back up.
It was so different than working in the cage had been, it really was.

I wasn’t trapped anymore, and the whole Composing Room buzzed and hummed and I guess I looked pretty fashionable because, well, that was all I knew. We didn’t wear much make-up in the years when I was 22, but we wore mascara, blush and lipstick. I guess you could have called us pretty natural that way.

I loved Perfume the most. Lipstick, too.

Your personal style sets in when you are in your early 20’s. You will probably keep that all your life.

I threw my very first party, in that apartment. I had taught myself to cook by getting a few cookbooks. I made a huge vat of Italian Cioppino for everyone. It was “Bring Your Own Bottle” so everyone had stuff they wanted to drink, and some of that was quite fancy, because my generation loved cocktails, but there was also wine and beer. My mom loaned me some huge serving platters and I made canapes, and all kinds of things from my little books. I invited Dennis and Felipe and there were so many bodies packing my little apartment, it looked like that movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The only weird thing was the next morning, when I had kind of a hangover and I woke up with Alladin curled against me, and padding me. I was off that day, and I planned to start the day with the biggest best bubble bath ever, only, when I pulled back the shower curtain, there was a tiny bag slipped over the spout in the tub. Like a muslin bag.

I was wondering what the hell it was, frankly.

I looked inside and saw something really dark red. Red Rose petal red, actually. Ewwww, I thought. Maybe somebody had their period and like, left this here.

I shook it out, and it was a pair of panties, from Dior.

There was a typed note, that said, “You are Very Beautiful, Adrienne.”

I was totally creeped out, because I had like 75 people, that had come and gone all night at that party. So? Who had done that.

The whole thing totally bothered me.

It was the creepiest thing that had ever happened.

Guess what?

It was that TA, who carried my books.

He had been there, too.

All the arty types I knew had been.

“Did you do that?”

I asked him the next time he tried to carry my books.

He was blushing.

Well, he wasn’t my type, anyway. Also he was married with a new baby. Just like that photography teacher, the fact I was a student at college, he thought he could. That’s what it was like in 1982. Just like that Photography teacher, he thought he could. Because they controlled our grades. I don’t even remember his name, but I remember how scared I was that he would give me an F grade, that whole quarter.

He didn’t, and nothing ever happened beyond that because he was never a TA I saw again. Do they still even have TA’s? That was a Teaching Assistant job, because Ph.d’s got a job out at UCSB and they could have Married Student Housing, too. He lived in one of those.

Can you even imagine not being able to call my Dad with a thing like that?

I was only 22, and he was making movies guys like that TA were watching.

How creepy is that?

Walking to all my Art History classes meant, I had to walk by Art Studio classes. And that is where my heart longed to be. It really did. Every time I passed those classes I wished I was in there, instead. Mostly it was guys who were.

Well?

They told me I wasn’t going to be able to get a job unless I took Art History.
When you are just a young kid, you take advice from just about anyone. Including school counselors. I was around the coolest bunch of teachers, ever, out in the Art History Department, but I was jealous of the people in Studio. So, I started taking art classes in my spare time, just for fun, because in my town almost everyone is an artist. In one form or another. If I had gone to UCSB straight out of High School right after all the art teachers I had, had in town? My whole life would have gone differently.

But the places you will go, the things you will do?

Nobody knows what those are at 22.

You can think you know, but probably not.

The paths we take in life are ever evolving.

That’s how I met Hacker.

Those sculptures of his were the most monumental things I had ever seen. He was older than me, too, and he was living where the Alhecama Theatre was, in some kind of tiny little room where he was sleeping on a foam pad. His face was craggy like a boxer’s, like he had been through everything on earth. He’s the one who was washing dishes at the Paradise. All of us were working our way through college, except Jim. All of us had taken so many paths in life.

I was a girl who was studying Art History with her own studio apartment.

He must have thought it was Paradise.

In those days I cooked for my friends who dropped by, and they were always hungry. Like Jim and Stevie B. My first big pans were speckled enamel, and I got them at the market where they had displays of pans you could get. Mine were black with white speckles.

Spend $30 and you could get a pan for $1.

Something like that.

Suddenly I had my first pans, my first tiny kitchen, and my first herbs, growing on my balcony. Suddenly I planted my first roses. I had four of them in pots out there. I think my place must have been Paradise for the men I let sleep there, in those days.

I was in the process of growing up.

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, let me tell you.

During that time, I met a man who couldn’t. It was a first for me, as I thought men were all the same. They aren’t.

They are just as different as women are.

The first time that happened I didn’t know what to do.

I was lying under him, and he apologized.

I remember I put my arms around him and hugged him, and whispered, “It’s okay.”

Then I got up, put on my kimono, and said, “Let’s have dinner.”

I guess for me, feeding people that need it?

Well, that was going to become something I would get to be good at.

Sometimes your life might not have anything to do with what you declare as a major in college.

Maybe your life will be “Cioppino for all.”

Copyight 2021, November 7th by Adrienne Wilson – all rights reserved

MEMOIR NEWSPAPERPEOPLE Chapter four Day 6 NANOWRIMO 2021

Newspaperpeople

  1. Storkes

You will never know the wounds you are capable of carrying, until you have to. The era comes back to haunt you. The monster that he was.

And then you will think of all the kind men who surrounded you then.

As they prepare you for the anesthesia you whisper, to God, let me die.

Let me go now.

And then you sink.

Everything is gone.

They wake you up.

They wake you up as if you have made some kind of mistake and girls are so disposable anyway.

The pain lives in a vault, in a chamber of your heart, that you learn to bury deep.

You won’t be alone.

They are shaking you.

“Wake up,” they say.

“Nooooo.”

They keep shaking you and shaking you and shaking you.

You wake up.

It wasn’t your time.

It wasn’t time for God to take you. Not yet.

You were only 22.

Now you realize perhaps God himself put you through this.

He keeps driving up, after.

He keeps driving up.

A girl lies next to you in the little room they make you walk to.

There are two beds. So you can recuperate.

She weeps, softly.

You weep.

There is a list on the table, with hundreds of names on it.

And the names are lined through.

And the names have names to come, after the two of you.

They run them through here like cattle, you think to yourself.

Cattle.

Chattel.
Cattle.

Chattel.

That he never loved you is the hardest lesson you will ever learn.

Your mother, who had always told you, “Come to me with anything,” is going to be no help. She simply tells you her French friend Selima had to have 14 of them, because of the Nazis.

Jim offers to marry you.

In the cold silence of your room, full of beige, full of books, with the money he had thrown down on the table, to pay for it, you stepped into the bathroom, while he slept and photographed yourself in your white Mexican wedding dress, with his Leica.

You had grasped at straws.

There was no way to call your father.

Your uncle was gone.

Your grandfather was tending to your grandmother, who had had a stroke after her son died, suddenly.

“Stand on your own two feet,” he said.

It’s that Christmas, it’s that day, when you know you have no choice.

There will be millions of girls that day, across the country.

Like the girl lying right next to you.

You didn’t die.

Maybe because you had to write a book, that would come many years later, so that no other girl would have to face this kind of thing, ever again.

I drove down to Los Angeles to meet the French sperm who was my father. He had hired detectives to find me at Santa Barbara High School. When I was 16. He said, or his current wife said through the door, “His therapist feels that you need to meet him, now.”

I stood in terror behind the door of our place on Carillo Hill, that day.

I thought maybe my real father, not the man I called Daddy, who was my father, to me anyway. (Since Mother made it so I could never call him) and I actually was that naive, to think that he might be able to give me some direction. I was two weeks late on my period. Student Health at UCSB arranged for me to take a urine test.

I was the girl who lived on Red Rose Way.

I was the girl who had no father.

Not like my mother’s father.

I was also a girl that my mother had no time for.

She made me into her best friend.

So I never even had a chance at being a daughter.

She told my best friend, “The men are going to come for Adrienne.”

My best friend told me that years later, going through her second divorce.

He lived north of Wilshire.

I found him.

I made an appointment to arrive, the last trip I ever took down to Santa Monica in my Audi. I was just a girl of 22, needing help.

There was no man to turn to.

Years later, reading the poem I wrote in Edgar Bower’s class, it’s what I wrote after.

I handed it to him, and he laughed it off. That acid dropping, clown. He laughed at my writing, some stupid little college girl who was getting D’s and F’s Winter Quarter at UCSB. The girl who he came up to rape and keep on raping, time after time, day after day, with that poisoned cock he had, covered in vitiligo. The cock that only knew how to rape, not love. He was like a battering ram, with it. Once he said, “I want to see my cock come out of your throat.”

To this day I remember his favorite position.

I never let another man put me in that position ever again, when I had sex.

The girls at work, the younger ones were having babies, and I made a quilt for Bonnie in Classified, for her baby.

Mine was gone, and I sewed the quilt for hers.

I’ll never forget how happy she was to see it. It was polka dots with an eyelet edge, and I tied it instead of quilting with many colors of embroidery thread.

Rosie had taken me aside.

I told her I needed to take three days off and I was crying.

I loved Rosie.

I also loved her funny boyfriend too.

She told me, she had to have one too.

I don’t know how I survived.

There has been some purpose for me to have survived.

Perhaps it is to write it down.

Never let a man kill your heart and soul.

Never.

The clinic was near Cottage Hospital.

Jim, offered to marry me.
Years later when we saw each other again, we discussed our lives.

I said, “What if we had married?”

I thanked him for the offer he had made me. His chivalry.

He will forever be in my mind as that.

Not all males are chivalrous.

I think males know other males very well, just as we know other women very well.

It’s in our genes,

I didn’t love Jim.

I was in love with the photographer.

I couldn’t have slept with Jim.

I couldn’t have asked Jim to take something on, that he wasn’t prepared to do.

He was still the cherubic blond baby of his mother’s.

I was the girl who lived on Red Rose Way. The street where there is supposed to be true love.

I was the girl who believed everything men said to me.

He had said he wanted to plant his seed inside me.

He had lied.

“I don’t want you spoiling Christmas for your grandparents,” Mother said.

As far as she was concerned I had taken care of it.

On her deathbed, under the spell of morphine, I said, “You never saw yourself as a grandmother did you?”
She said “No.”

My mother was of the generation that had Andy Warhol.

That Christmas in 1981 my little brother and I were to take the train to Cambria, so our family could have Christmas. You will never know how strong you have to be for your family, until it is needed. You will also never understand why you had to put on a happy face as if nothing bad had happened.

As the train rumbled up the coast, I couldn’t say anything to my brother about what I had just gone through. He was too young. To this day, I wish I had had an older brother. This is what the men at work would become for me. Like Big Brothers. That is what Alan was to me.

We think of storks as the things that come with babies like miracles wrapped in swaddling clothes. There are myths we live out. There are also fairytales.

I was the girl on Red Rose Way who walked under Storke’s bells.

Up in his tower, I sat the books that held the millions of words.

They were bound books, every newspaper that had ever run.

I climbed the stairs all the time to see them.

The panic attacks began in my mother’s car, as we drove home to Santa Barbara after that Christmas. A bee flew into her car, and at the time, I was afraid of bees, as I had been stung once, as a very young child. Suddenly I could not breathe. My hands curled into little blue claws as there was no oxygen, coming in. I wasn’t breathing.

He put me through that.

And he still kept driving up.

He kept on sending postcards as if he were making a piece of Performance Art, like Chris Burden.

That’s what he was doing.

He had no plans to give me up and I couldn’t breathe anymore.
There was nothing left.

He had killed my heart.

Or so I thought.

Perhaps, my heart did not die, for it is the strongest organ that I have.

It is always with my heart that I have traveled this world.

I was the girl who lived on Red Rose Way, and I was the girl who wore her heart on her sleeve.

I was the girl who lived on Red Rose Way who thought she had met her second Prince Charming. The first one had not been.

I was the 22 year old they gave Xanax to. Harold was on it too.

Harold, the best boss in the world.

I walked between the Pacesetters, under his watch.

They were spitting out film.

They were spitting out thousands of letters, whole alphabets put together out of the people who were busily typing upstairs on the Third Floor, they had come down the pneumatic tubes, and been retyped and marked up in the Composing Room.

I was becoming a Journeyman Printer.

“Harold, I can trim the type.”

“No, you job is to bring the type to the hooks.”

“But I can do more than one thing, Harold.”

“No, you are doing your job.”

And so I had gone from being the girl that came from Fashion, through Classified Accounting, into a Switchboard Operator, to a Proofreader, and finally I was on my way to the Floor.

That’s how important all of us were.

That’s how hard we worked to make everything true and perfect, at the newspaper.

It had won the Pulitzer.

It had belonged to T. M. Storke.

Copyright 2021 Newspaperpeople by Adrienne Wilson – Nanowrimo 2021 – all rights reserved

Newspaperpeople #Memoir #nanowrimo2021 Day Two

“Lightline” by Adrienne Wilson

Day 2 Nanowrimo Newspaperpeople

  1. Cockroaches

On the phone you cried to Jim, over and over about what a mistake you had made. He was a friend, leftover from what was the dawn of adulthood. He had rescued you once before, the night after your first relationship ended, and you had come home.

Pam lived with Carlos at his mother’s house down on Bath, she was in love so madly those years, with his Aztec everything. They couldn’t keep their hands off each other in that little living room and she had told you you could spend the night there. It never crossed your mind that that wouldn’t be possible, but after the double date, you looked over at Jim and he said, “I’ve got a place we can go.”

That night I took a chance.

We slept together, two 21 year olds, in an empty apartment where he had been crashing with Jeffy. Two party boys, on the cusp of growing up. The condo was totally empty, only a mattress on the floor. I can’t remember the bedding, just that there was sea of red carpet, and the two of us fell into each other’s arms that night. Students.

Jeffy bounced in – that morning after. He was a Montecito party boy, Jim’s best friend. So was Carlos.

“Hey you two,” he bounced. All the spiral curls he had. I pulled the sheets up over my head. I was the girl who was adult before my time. My first boyfriend was a grown man. Jim was safe. It was because of the second boyfriend that I called him again. We’d been talking ever since we both started college, he at UCSB, and I Santa Monica College. I was embarrassed that morning with Jeffy. I was the kind of girl who only liked one man at a time. I’m still that way.

Friends are people who stay friends across years falling in and out of touch. The next day, he taught me to drive a stick, in that glamorous green Triumph he drove, down in the parking lots by the harbor. When I think of that smiling blond face, even across years, I see us then, just starting off. Just kids, just two fatherless kids trying to navigate our futures.

“Let’s go out for breakfast,” he said.

“Get out of here,” he said to Jeffy.

Jim’s mother was a real estate agent, and her husband was gone. Her squat ranch on the Mesa had to house all her kids, four of them, and they were all leaving for their own lives. She rented out rooms to college kids, and Jim said, “You can live up here and go to UCSB, with me.”

I handed his mother a check for $300.

I was leaving Los Angeles, I was leaving all my teachers, I was leaving him. That man I was in love with. My married Art teacher. The one who handed the roses off to me, nearly daily. I was accepted into UCSB. I told my mother. And then I was going. I was leaving into the unknown future that awaited me back in the town where I grew up. I had friends there, like Jim and Pam and Carlos, and by then I knew Stevie B, and I knew it was going to be fun, and I was going to be a grown up at last. I was smart enough to know I had to leave that relationship.

I wasn’t prepared for what would happen next though.

“Mark and I will move you up. Start packing,” Jim said.

What did I actually have then?

Very little. I was living in my mother’s house.

Mark was Jim’s mechanic. He only worked on English cars, like Jim’s. The day I left Los Angeles for good, the day they were putting my very few adult-to-be girlboxes in the back of Mark’s Land Rover, I put my cat Alladin in the car in his little cage, on top of my clothes. I had him, my little rescue Persian, with the watery magnificent eyes. So, I had the most important thing. Something to love, who could love me back with his purrs, and moods. Perhaps I have always been a rescuer of sorts. Maybe that is what my life has been about. All I can tell you now is to be very careful if you plan to rescue people. The rescuer always becomes a victim. I guess I had to learn that the hard way, and I don’t want it to happen to you.

My Art teacher walked by us that day. He dropped a long stemmed red rose into one of the boxes, as he passed.

I saw the flash of his brown leather jacket go by, down Barrington. I ran after him to say goodbye.

“Is that the guy?” Jim said, frowning.

I had tears in my eyes. You are only going to actually fall in love a few times in life. I say this now, so you won’t make mistakes like I did. Years later I remember the day I told him I was leaving. He photographed me, my eyes full of tears, hands full of all his dried roses.

Then we were gone. Jim and Mark and I, heading north, only about 100 miles, but the safety I felt. I had escaped with the help of a chivalrous friend. I had left all of my friends, all of my teachers, and even my mother in the swirling eddy that is the city of Los Angeles. I had also left my job and I was about to get a new one. The first thing I did was apply for a job at the paper, I did that the very next morning. For my generation, jobs were our identities, and so was going to college.

I met Jim’s mother that night, in all her billowing Aussie caftan. She was large and harsh and in the middle of a hard part of her life as a single parent. Jim was her baby, the last of her children, daughters already married or moved on.

“You can use this shelf for your food,” she said. Her arms sweeping the air. “I know girls like you. Your hair is going to clog up all my plumbing.”

“I’ll try not to,” I said.

I went to my room, and I called my mother.

How many times will you need to call your mother? Millions.

I did.
That night, when Jim knocked at my door, I knew I had to go. He expected that he had a built in girlfriend, under his mother’s roof. We had already slept together once, hadn’t we? We had been telephone friends since that year of 21, only. Maybe, because for men it is different, when it comes to sex, he thought, well I saved her didn’t I?

But that isn’t how it goes for girls. We fall in love so hard, or at least I did, that when I was in love there is only that man. It would have been impossible that night. I was too sad. I don’t think I was ever that lonely for someone in my life. Because he was an artist and so was I. Modotti and Weston. Steiglitz and O’Keefe. By then, I had my own Nikon. I bought it myself.

I was so in love that all I could think about was him.

But I couldn’t call him.

That was one of the rules.

Never call his house.

He called me from pay phones in little booths all over Los Angeles.

This was going to get worse after I had my job, because I gave him my number there.

Four dozen long stemmed roses arrived at Jim’s mother’s house. She thought they were for her. The first of the postcards was attached.

“He thought of her.”

I decided to move that night.

I could not let Jim in.

I probably cried all night that night holding Alladin.

What had I done?

I was so in love with that man it is hard to write it even now.

Because we were artists.

The bond of love with someone is very hard to break. Very hard.

My best friend Pam was in love and living with Carlos at his mother’s. She intended it to last. Jim was single. He was in his sowing wild oats phase, so young just 22. I was in love with a married Art teacher and he was 100 miles south of me, and I looked up into the night stars, hunting for the moon in any slim curve she might take. The scent of Jim’s mothers Hawaiian Ginger wafted in from the garden behind her tract house by the sea. I held Alladin in my arms, tightly after getting off the phone, and I told Jim, “No.”

I had a job!

“Mom, I got a job, “ I said. My first week back home and I had a new job. In the biggest place in town. The most imposing place in town, and I was going to be walking under Storke Tower. I was going to start UCSB Winter Quarter 1981. I had transferred up, and I was going to one of the finest Universities in California.

I had the simplest job in mind, so I had applied for Cashier. In the lobby full of Walnut desks, the sea of faces who greeted me, smiling.

“You have too much experience to be only a cashier, “ said Mr. Plet.

“We want you in Classified Accounting.”

That’s how I met Rosie and Cathy and Toni, and all the other girls who had desks in offices in 1981, and maybe by then we had all been in love for the first time and all of us had jobs.

Rosie smiled at me and led me to my desk, which was huge and antique, in the way all the desks were. Imposing, as was the paper itself. I was taken on a tour to see all the different departments and I was a very small cog in a very large wheel that kept tabs on everything. I knew how to use an adding machine, from my job in Fashion. Rosie told me about the five girls who had had the job before and they had all walked out. I was determined not to fail them, so I sat down to a mountain of pink pages. The billing hadn’t been done for something like five months. It took me several weeks to catch it all up, working nine to five, and all of us had weekends off. I have never met so much kindness on the job as I met in all those people in the sea of faces at the newspaper. They saved my life, once. How can I ever thank them for those years, of Mr. Plet and Mr. Sykes and the way they helped a young college girl begin at UCSB? How can I ever thank what was once the throbbing heartbeat of a town?

*author note – copyright Adrienne Wilson November 22, 2021 all rights reserved

ps: thank you Matt of WP and Nanowrimo for making the two best places for writers ever.

Memoir #Newspaperpeople #Nanowrimo 2021 – Day one

Newspaperpeople

  1. Red Rose Way

Be careful with the sugar shell that is your heart, for you will find the world can be full of evil. I did. I was a girl who lived on Red Rose Way, once upon a time. I was a girl who believed in Cinderella and that men would love me, as if they were Prince Charming.

The first man that breaks your heart will be the worst, for you will never be able to love again. Not the way you love in your twenties. I would rather not see you make the mistakes that I did, because I don’t want you to have to carry the thorns. I suppose that was my father. Or what was supposed to be my father. Instead there was only a blank that ended at thirteen, when my mother said, “I’m stronger than any man, and I am both mother and father to you.”

Maybe she had to say that, as women have to say many things to their daughters. He broke my heart, that is all I can say. He cracked the sugar shell into a thousand tiny pieces and she wasn’t even watching me by then, in the way that mothers have to let their daughters go.

I wanted to study art as I had always studied it, all my young life, in college. I thought that my life would be about making art, as growing up all my mother’s friends did that. My Dad did that, and my Uncle did that, as men are free to do whatever they want, most of the time. How light their lives are, compared to ours.

You open to them in a series of petals that they plunge into.

Choose the right one.

Choose the one who actually does love you.

It’s not easy to be a Muse.

He called it Documentary Photography.

I called it love with a capital L, only it wasn’t love. He was married. I didn’t know that at first. I didn’t know I would be an amusement he planned on using, not just to make some art. He thought I was beautiful, and so he hatched a plan.

On a low stone wall I sat fiddling with a camera my Uncle had left me, a Russian Leica from the years he was abroad on his films. It was all I had left of him, in the years after he passed. People took stills then, all the time. Daddy took them, my grandfather took them, my uncle took them and you learn to trust the lens with men that you love. He didn’t take pictures that way. He took them like secrets, like snares.

If only my father had known. That’s what I thought then. Didn’t he care about me either? He was the biggest pornographer in Hollywood at that time. Way past the era he made surfing films.

It was 1980 in Los Angeles, at Santa Monica College.

“Let me see that camera,” my teacher said. He had plopped himself down next to me on the low wall where I was trying to load Tri-X. He was tall, and too thin, and his clothes were stupid, like a square’s. He wasn’t even handsome. He had intentions. He wanted to grab a girl. He did this from a position of power, because he controlled her grades. That is how things worked then. Have we always been lesser than? Or is that what they think, trying to scale the walls Romeo once did. The solid stone, the slipping steps, a girl high on a balcony, looking down. Maybe it was like that. It isn’t something I will ever understand or know.

I wasn’t an object. I was an Artist. I was there to study Art.

I should have known when he took a 16 x 20 of the class and gave it to me. On the back he wrote everyone’s student number, and on me, he wrote my name. Girls on Film. I was an object, or maybe a subject, to a half rate teacher. It’s not like he was Ivy League.

Maybe I was just younger. Too young to understand him. Some girl who was fresh, some girl who was pretty. Some girl he didn’t really care about. Some girl he planned on fucking. As I say it, I want to tear his heart out. I want to cut his heart into shreds with my pen for you, so that this will never happen to another girl.

Maybe there are many who I want to tear to shreds. For they did that to me.

I walked in their worlds. The world of men. All of us did, in 1980. There were so many dreams for all of us, then. Our mother’s had them. That we wouldn’t have their lives. Our mothers never wanted us to have their lives. Perhaps they ruined ours, because of who they married. I never got to ask my mother things like that. How can it be possible for any mother to let her daughter go? When she already knows what might happen.

She was the only place you could always call, in tears.

She was always the place you could come home.

You had to look at her from a distance, not knowing.

There must have been thousands of kisses, thousands of kisses on film as he set it up. I reach back into corridors of memory to a forgotten style, a forgotten touch, a forgotten start that had seemed gentle. Not the battering ram he became.

Roses mean true love.

That’s what we were taught.

Poets compared us to them all the time.

His roses would become my downfall.

The petals became my tears.

It was months before we went to bed together, in a cheap squalid little hotel in the middle of Los Angeles called “TheBack Motel” and I remember the large purple dahlia I saw growing by the door to the room. He must have been thrilled at what he had done. He had gotten the girl.

By then I knew he was married and miserable, at least that’s how he framed it. I had already been in love once, and it hadn’t lasted. He was my second.

I would never fall so hard again in my life.

My heart hardened into a steel door.

I ran away from the city of Lost Angels, where everyone dies a slow death under the sun which weeps, daily. Friends brought me home into the clean light by the sea. My old friend Jim, who in High School had given me a rose once. Long stemmed, a red bud. He and his friend Mark packed me up one day, after I cried to him that I needed to end it, that I need to come home.

“My mom rents out rooms,” he said. “You can go to UCSB.”

I thought that would solve things, and it would be childhood’s exit. It’s just that I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

I was in love.

I was in love and I was leaving that love. Behind.

Jim didn’t get to have his father either. None of us did. They pulled massive acts of disappearance, they slipped away unnoticed into the night. All the marriages shattered themselves into tight shards of bitter glass in our childhoods. We became the fatherless kind, and our mothers hated men.

I hope that doesn’t happen to you.

Dad was probably screwing young actresses my age. The ones from Blue Movies he was making a fortune off of. It’s so hard to even talk about it I want to turn the page.

I missed everything after age thirteen. I missed being able to have Father’s Day. I missed Dad getting me a first corsage. Mother decided I should never see him again. It was worse for my little brother. It was worse for my best friend. It was worse for Jim, who was still a baby, wanting to marry me. At that time I thought men my age were babies. We were all just babies learning to navigate as adults.

Never give the flower of True Love to a woman you don’t intend to love.

Never give a rose to a woman if you don’t mean it.

If you don’t mean it, you will break her heart. If you break her heart into a thousand pieces she will never be able to love again. Neither will you.

In August of 1981, I came home to the little town by the sea where I grew up. I got a job at the biggest place in town, a place filled to the brim with Newspaperpeople. Maybe some of them saved my life. At least I had a job. I was like my mother that way. I wasn’t going to have to depend upon a man to leave me crumbs. Maybe that is who all of us were, then. The women of the Second Wave. We knew that we would be going to work, and we knew that we were going to go to school, and we knew we wanted marriage and a family. It’s just that, none of us knew how hard all of that was going to be.

I can tell you I was in love with the man who brought me roses and photographed me endlessly. Maybe he saw me like a model, or maybe he was just documenting his life as an artist. Maybe he saw me like a Muse in a time that he hated his wife, or was bored with his wife, and he needed something clean and fresh like petals in a many petalled heart. Maybe I was a fantasy he knew he could never actually have. Maybe I was somebody he just wanted to fuck. He used to tell me I was Tina Modotti to his Edward Weston, a thousand frames an hour, as he spun around me with that camera, snapping. Maybe I was his jump and leap like a fish out of water from some small Indiana town who had made it out to Los Angeles after Vietnam, barely intact, out of the Haight where on some kind of Military scholarship he got to get an MFA. At the San Francisco Institute of the Arts. Little did he know, I had intended Cal Art for myself, at fourteen. I thought I wanted that then.

Maybe I was just another Cinderella, in his long line of those.

I was the girl who lived on Red Rose Way, once upon a time.

I was the reddest bloom he would ever pluck.

I was the girl who took all his cheap tinfoil wrapped roses stolen one by one, from is own married garden, and those petals were my tears.

Copyright November 2021, Adrienne Wilson all rights reserved

~

*author note – I always write to music and so the pieces I chose, today were these

Girls on Film, Once in a Lifetime, Pictures of You, What I Like About You – those were all songs on the radio 1980’s. – where the novel starts. It covers 20 years of working at a newspaper. I was at UCSB when I started working for one. WC = 1855 but I pasted the music links into my Bean Version. So – over 1667 forst day and it feels fantastic. Been awhile since I have had the Muse hit. ❤