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 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