Chapter XXX - Seashore Apartments, Visit With Helen
Richard was discharged from service at the end of December and secured a job as a chemical engineer in the line of work he had trained for.
In April my oldest grandson Johnny married, and Richard and Marie were in the wedding party. Richard ushered a lovely girl, Ann, who later became his wife.
I continued to work in our business at the shore until 1960. I was 64 at the time. I began to realize that working every summer from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. was not for me any more. I had worked hard all of my life and I was still able to work at the store but I didn't like to work so many hours, seven days a week. I felt my children were all settled and Marie was doing well in her chosen field. Now I would like to have the freedom to enjoy life. If the hours were reasonable and I had my Sundays to worship and rest, I would have continued to work for a few more years.
An idea was born out of my rationalizations. I would turn the store into apartments. Because of the size of the building I could have two two-bedroom apartments and one apartment with one bedroom. I would keep that one for me to stay in and rent the others. I loved the salubrious air of the shore and enjoyed the beach and the boardwalk. I would still be occupied but I would have the choice of doing what I really wanted to.
I spoke to my sons about this and Tony offered to do the work with his brothers on weekends. I told him that wasn't what I had in mind and wanted to contract the work. He and the rest would not hear of it. The whole group offered to work: my three sons, two sons-in-law Danny and Anthony, and my oldest grandson Johnny who was already working in construction.
They decided to begin the work after New Year's, but we had a great surprise when we went to start the job. The week between Christmas and the New Year was very cold and it had been followed by a big snowfall. The kitchen door was blocked half way by the snow and the water pipes had frozen. With the first heat in the rooms many of them burst and the toilet cracked. On the first day I had to melt snow to have water.
The work lasted ten weekends with everyone cooperating. The wives had to endure hardships because their husbands weren't home during the weekends. Finally, all the work was done and I had to furnish the apartments. I was low in finances because I had paid for the materials while they furnished the work. I also had to pay the plumber and the electrician for their work.
I began to canvas stores for sales, and everything was taken care of in time for the season to open.
For the first time at the shore I felt like a lady of leisure. I could get up when I felt like it, have a leisurely breakfast, go on the beach or play Bingo in the afternoon when the sun was hot. I was 64 when all of this luxury came to me.
About the middle of August, Lucy and I decided to visit Helen who was now living in Springfield, Missouri. We went by airplane. Lucy was visiting for one week since she had a family to care for, but I decided to stay longer and return by bus so that I could see the countryside.
It was a beautiful day when I left for home. It was a five hour ride to Saint Louis and we arrived there around 6:00 p.m. I had dinner at the terminal and waited two hours for the next bus. We rode on the next bus non-stop all night. I tried to sleep but could not make myself comfortable and did not sleep all night long. About 6:00 a.m. the bus stopped for a rest room and coffee. I had my eyes closed trying to sleep. I was so tired I was not able to open my lids and I had to use my fingers to pry them open. I walked down the steps like a zombie and lined up with the other passengers for a container of coffee, but as I reached for the coffee I felt nauseated and left for the bus. Later, when the bus stopped for breakfast, I was again not able to eat. We reached Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, late in the afternoon, where there was a four-hour wait for the next bus to leave. Four hours can be very tiresome and boring in a terminal, especially if it is raining and one cannot go for a walk. Those four hours disrupted my time of arrival at home.
Marie had gone to the terminal at the scheduled time, and, after waiting for a long time, had decided to inquire about the bus. She was told there would not be another bus from Pittsburgh until morning. It was 3:30 a.m. when the bus finally arrived in Newark. I surmised what had happened and decided to go to Irvington by taxi. Marie was fast asleep when I rang the bell. She came to the door. Before opening it, she asked who was there. I said, "It's me."
"Ma," she said, "I was at the station and they said there would be no more busses tonight."
I will never forget that miserable trip home!
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