How time flies
Getting fired from one of my first jobs had me in tears. My mother had been ill and the doctor was coming to our home. Someone had to be there to admit him and stay until he left. Since I worked just a few blocks away it became my duty.
We’d arranged for his being there around the noon hour. I told my boss about my family problem and that I could possibly be late returning from lunch. My boyfriend and future husband Don volunteered to pick me up then wait to take me back to work. I got back to work only 15 minutes late and could immediately feel a cold chill in the air. The next day I found out why.
My boss called me into her office and said that my having a “fling” on my lunch hour was unacceptable and I was fired. Trying to explain that it wasn’t a fling, and that my mother was really ill, etc. did nothing, I was out the door in minutes. The doctor came again a few days later and I told him what had happened. He was furious and sat down and wrote an explanation.
He prepared a prescription and signed it. With this in hand, I went back to the office. Knowing I wouldn’t get any response by giving that note to my boss — whom I knew would destroy it — I gave it to my friend Bertha, who immediately took it to the head of the business. However, Don had gotten me an interview where he worked and I was hired immediately to do defense plant work.
The pay there was better, and I loved the job once I was settled in. And then, of course, I was offered my old job back. But I said “no thank you.” It was a lot of years later that Bertha and I became friends again; our meeting in Roslyn began many years of a great friendship. Our families blended with others in our town and our local church as years went by.
Bertha and I both became pregnant about the same time, and we both had boys.
Later, with our older children in school, my friend and I would sometimes push our baby carriages a couple of miles away to a restaurant that sold great Philly steak sandwiches. One day she called and said we had to go there for lunch and have something new called a pizza pie.
All I could think of was why in the world I would want a piece of pie for lunch? But I went anyway with Bertha smiling the whole trip. This was how I experienced my very first pizza and I was hooked. By now our family had grown, Bertha and her family had moved in Roslyn to a bigger house and we had moved to Ambler.
Bertha was now working at a Christian bookstore and I was waiting tables wherever I could, but we still kept in touch. It was about this time one summer that I took a job weekends on the Jersey shore. I would drive down Friday morning and my husband would bring the boys down Saturday. The money I made paid for the meals and room.
This may sound odd, but I enjoyed the work and the boys and Don had a lot of fun on the beach and walking the boardwalk. Then something happened the last weekend of Labor Day. Don and the boys had just gotten settled in and came to the restaurant where I was working. Everybody seemed a little too quiet and I asked what was wrong.
Bertha’s husband Ray, at only 40 years of age, had passed away suddenly of a heart attack. I was supposed to work that whole weekend, but I simply could not. My friend, I knew, would need me. Finishing my shift for that day we headed home. As soon as we got back to Ambler I drove over to Roslyn to Bertha’s home. We simply hugged. Then she reminded me of something we had talked about many times.
What would it be like to suddenly receive enough money to pay off the mortgage and car payments? She said, “I’m going to be able to do that now,” as the tears flowed down her sweet face. “But this isn’t how I wanted it to happen.” Many years later I lost my Bertha, too. However, over the years she and I never lost touch.
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.