Monday, September 29, 2008

A change in our decisions

When we first married, we had jointly decided that we would not have a child until the war was over. As time passed S came to the conclusion that he wanted us to have a baby or one on the way before he had to go overseas. I was glad he made that call, for I was torn. Was it fair to a baby to maybe not have a father. I kept thinking of talk by the GIs who told of the short life span of a junior officer. And I guess that prognosis would have come true, for if S had not got Scarlet Fever while he was residing in a German foxhole during the Battle of the Bulge, he probably would not have made it.

And so back to the baby making. Months went by. No luck. And now with the guest on our sofa, less time would be spent on that problem. A good friend of mine who heard of our quest gave me one her husband's American Medical Journal in which an author had made research in how to find when ovulation takes place. The woman has to take her temperature vaginally every morning before getting out of bed. A chart has to be kept of the most minute changes that take place. I did it for several months and a picture developed of the changes and I seemed to have a 28 day cycle. If at any time I was a day or two late, I would make a beeline to the nearest Baby Store and order equipment that I would need nine months later. And then a week or so later I would tearfully call to cancel the order. The last time they saw me in that store they said: We won't take your order until you are at least six weeks pregnant.

And now a jump forward in time. S. was home from the war and I was going to an obstetrician in California. One day-he said he had united with a sterility expert and he would be my doctor from now on. So I had all the check-ups over again and when he was finished he said: Now I want you to take your temperature vaginally every morning before you get out of bed.' I said: I have already done that when we lived in Texas. He said: Impossible. It is a new program and very few people even know about it.

And so I told him I had read an article about it in the American Medical Journal and I had taken my temp. for several months. Then he said: "I wrote that article". His name was Pendleton Thompkins and he had something to do with the birth of all our four children. But we had to wait five years for the birth of our first born. I love small world stories.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


The return to Texas was less exciting than the reverse trip. The one really good thing that came from this new development was that I admired S more than ever. His trying to do something worth while for his half sister, made him a hero in my eyes. I tried to do my share of helping, but her inertia made it difficult. S and I often wondered what made her so retiring and so without any self confidence. She had a domineering father who had been brutally abusive to S. Maybe that man had robbed her of what she needed to get along in this world.

I told you some time ago that the sergeant's wife who lived behind our kitchen changed my life. She listened o soaps on the radio about seven hours a day. I had to listen unless I wore ear plugs. And I had watched S's mother listen to the radio every morning when Helen Trent was on the air. And so it seeped into me. And so my part of helping B was sitting down to a card table working on a Jigsaw puzzle and letting this surrounding noise invade her. Probably the worst thing I could have done to her. But somehow we had to survive.

We, all three of us, survived. B was introduced to all our friends. She was exposed to a lot of GIs when we were invited out to the post to play Badminton. And we always went out to the post when the troops were reviewed. S was the adjutant of his company and we loved seeing the funny steps he was required to use while doing this.

We were speaking of Helen Trent. When S retired and we moved to the North West we joined a class given at the Junior College. The teacher's name was Bob Sidney. His mother had been playing the role of Helen Trent for something like 25 years.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


The two sisters of Mater (Auntie K said I could no longer call her Mrs S. We tried all sorts of names. I could not call her mother for my mother was alive. So we settled on Mater. S.s Stepfather remained Mr S till the day he died.) Auntie K and Auntie A were real characters. Both were well read, both had wonderful personalities. And a great sense of humor. I loved spending time there when later, after S had gone overseas, I lived with his family. The house of the Aunts and uncle Phil was warm and cozy. There were two armchairs, one on each side of the fireplace. They had a fire almost daily and the bed of ashes reached almost half way up in the fireplace. Auntie A always sat on one foot. She was a small woman. Auntie K was larger and had had a stroke a year before I met her. She would get up from her chair and with her high heels trip up and out of the livingroom every so often. When she returned she had a little more powder on her nose. Toward the end of the day it looked as though she had stuck her nose in a bag of flour. They were interested hearing about my life and work and the house was filled with good feelings

We usually ate lunch with them on Sundays. It consisted of a simple casserole, a loaf of French bread with camembere cheese, a salad and icecream for dessert. And with that many laughs and many stories of their youth. Phil and Auntie K had two daughters, Jane who was married to Jack who was in the Navy and Kitty who was still in high school. And then there was cousin C with wom we were going to spend Cristmas evening. More about them later.

S's sister B. was a burden for him. He had always tried to introduce her to his friends. And she was shy and unresponsive to his macho friends and nothing came of these introductions. And so to make up for this he invited her to return with us to Texas.

Our aparment was not really conducive to house guests. I think I told you, one entered into the livingroom. Our bedroom was in the room that once had been the dining room. There was not a solid wall between the living room and our bedroom, And B would have to sleep on the sofa in the livingroom. Can all of you understand my chagrine when I heard of this development. We were still on an extended honeymoon and having someone practically in the same room with us would wreak havoc in our lives. My motto was DO YOUR BEST. And so when Christma was over the three of us returned to Mineral Wells.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


When we arrived in Burlingame we stashed our suitcases at the station, for S felt we had to get a present for his mother before we went to their house. So we walked up Burlingame Ave and at Benet's Drugstore we went in to buy a bottle of perfume. We smelled and smelled and finally S found one he thought his mother would like. The woman who waited on us, a woman who pretended to be English, said, May I put the frahgrahns in a bahg.

Then we walked back to the station, got our luggage and a cab and were driven to Hillsborough in a taxi where S's mother wellcomed us. They lived in a fantastic house. French looking and huge. It was fun walking around and seeing pictures of S when he was little. His father died when he was 2years old. He was born in Portland Maine. His mother remarried when he was four or five and his English stepfather took the whole family to live in England a few years later. His Mother was shy and retiring but very kind. She had one specific place to sit in the living room and above her head in the highcielinged room was a huge dark spot caused by her smoking. We went upstairs to check out the layout of the bedrooms (there were five) and bathrooms. S's older brother was in the Army in Italy, a sister was at work (Qantas Airline) and his ten years younger brother was in High School.

After a while we got into Mrs. S's car and drove to San Mateo Park where S's Aunt and Uncle lived. They deserve a whole chapter of this blog and I will do that later.

Something remarkablee happened to my wonderful husband. It must have been tied to his imagination as a teenager living in that house years ago. He insisted on showing me how much he loved me. In the strangest places. It was as if everytime it happened he said to himself: OK, one down, seven to go. It was a wonderful vacation

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A trip to Californnia

Christmas was approaching and S's family suggested we spend the Holidays with them. They lived South of San Francisco. We took the train from Forth Worth (I think) and went via Los Angeles, with a short lay over in El Paso. I think it took a couple of days. Having S all to myself for that length of time was wonderful and we made the most of the closeness.

When we got to El Paso and had a couple of hours, we decided to cross the border into Mexico. We took a street car over the border, but all the seats were taken, so we stood hanging on to the strops overhead. At one stop, I looked into a store window and there, on display was an electric standard iron. I had been using the only iron I owned, a travel iron which was either scorching what I was ironing or stone cold. I had tried my best to get a new one but everywhere I asked they blamed the war on the shortage. I asked S if we could go back and try to buy one. A benefit for him for most of my ironing was his army togs.

We went back and we did buy the one I saw in the window, the only one in the store. It took a while, what with the language and the getting it out of the window display. By the time we got out and headed toward the border it was getting closer to the trains
e.t.d. And everyone crowded the sidewalks and we could not get on the streetcar because people were already hanging out the doors. So we had to go thru a check point. And it was getting later and later. And I did not have a passport with me. I had to lie.
I had to say I was born in Minnesota. According to friends and foes my accent was disappearing so it might work. It was hair-raisingly scary. But we made it with seconds to spare.

We woke up in Los Angeles and looked out the window and saw the most gorgeous sight. Mountains covered with snow. (much much later we lived in Southern California but never again did I see such beauty. Smog cancelled all that post card beauty. We arrived in Burlingame next morning.

Monday, September 22, 2008

German prisoners of War

Americans had not yet invaded Europe so I suppose the prisoners were taken in Africa or Sicili. But we would see them working in the fields around town. They always had fun whistling when any female walked by. We heard very little about their deployment. And how they were free to work for people who needed muscles. They worked for a farmer who was slaughtering livestock. And we also saw them working in the fields.

One day S and I decided to invite eight or nine couples for dinner. I checked my meat stamps for I had decided to serve leg of lamb. I went to my favorite meat market and asked how many meat stamps I would need for the lamb. A leg was weighed and the price multiplied or however it was decided how rationing worked. When he told me, I knew I had to change my menu. The butcher wanted to help me and said 'how would you like to have a leg of mutton.' I asked 'how do you cook a leg of mutton?' He said a few degrees cooler and an hour longer. How much is it per pound. Conciderably cheaper. I said 'I will try it.'

We had served leg of lamb in my first job. So I knew mint was a must, and rice went well as the starch. When I unwrapped the mutton back home in the kitchen the smell of the meat gave me a feeling I had had it before. And when it began cooking I knew what it was reminding me of. My grandfather. At 90 he was a vital man with a twinkle in his eye and in winter he always wore a black cloth overcoat with sheepskin lining. He smelled like my leg of mutton.

I have to tell you about my grandfather even if he does not fit in in 1943 0r 4. He was born in 1838 and his mother died during the delivery. He had a stepmother who was not about to spoil him in any way. He was sent away to work on a farm when he was barely ten. He had to work as a man and while lifting something too heavy he was ruptured. He had to spend a couple of days in bed and the farmer's wife told him: if you are not working, you get no food. He was indentured and when the period was up, he was allowed to leave. I know I have Swedish people reading my blogs, and I may remember some of his stories incorrectly. Please let me know. He went to the University in Lund and became a school teacher. When I knew him he was about my age and he was strict, but eager to try to educate us, his grandchildren. And he smelled like mutton. He had a long white beard and his dark brown eyes were piercing.

In 1928 my mother bought a little radio, invited my grandfaather to come down the lane to listen to Admiral Byrd speak from the South Pole. I will never forget that evening. Tears were streaming down grandfather's cheeks. 'To think that I would be able to hear a voice from the South Pole! It boggles my mind.'

Forgive this aside. Has nothing to do with German prisoners.

The dinner was a success and the house smelled heavenly. Only six couples accepted our invitation. It had something to do with the fact that I told them what we were going to serve. They did not have a grandfather like mine.

Our new digs

It was less than a week before the phone rang and the Woman with the gray hair (GH) said, you can have the apartment on the 15th. Come by any time before then and we will get our lease organized.

After getting to look at our future home, which was palatial compared with BO Plenty's place, we sat down for a cup of tea. Mrs GH said, I have very strict rules regarding all my renters. I allow no drinking... and I stopped her and said. We can't live here because my husband insists on a drink before dinner. And if we invite people for dinner I always serve a suitable wine. (I knew nothing about suitable. I only knew white and red) Mrs GH was shocked by this revelation. She looked as though I should not have told .And she had the same question as the Ps had had. How can you drink and not get drunk.

I have another strict rule. If you have company they must leave by 11. And don't use the commode too often. It was embarrassing to tell the Ws that we all had to go on one flush.

The place was large, but only in comparison with what we had to leave. As you entered the place, you walked into the living room. Directly behind was the bedroom and behind this was the kitchen. Behind the kitchen was a one room apartment with entry down the hall. In this place lived a Sergeant and his wife. In a way this Army wife changed my life. More about this later. We enjoyed living in this apartment for about six months. We tresured having each other but knew what was going to happen when our year was up.

One monumental thing happened while we lived here. I had been shopping for groceries, parked the car in front of the apartment, carried the groceries in and began cooking dinner. S came home and asked me for the mail which we picked up at the postoffice. I said I'll get it. I left it in the car. Rushed out. There was no car. I yelled, 'S the car has been stolen. S called the Army MPs and I used a phone in the Hall and called the MIneral Wells police Dept. Within half an hour a poor GI was caught in Wheatherford. And it took at least an hour before S forgave me for being so careless. I made it easy for the GI, leaving the keyes in the car. This would never have happened in our former abode. Not good hunting grounds.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I promised S to look for better living quarters and so I had an almost daily excursion looking and asking. Everywhere I asked, it was always the same, I'll put you on my list but there are so many people ahead of you. Finally I decided there must be a secret I don't know about. W with wife had found a beautiful place. But she did not like to entertain. We askked How were you so lucky? They never told.

We liked to have people for dinner and we loved to play bridge. When we invited the Ws the question was : Do we put a card table in the bed room and have one person sit on the bed. Not very comfortable. Or do we have people eat in the kitchen and watch Buela doing her thing? There was very little counter space in the kitchen. So we had to play bridge with dirty dishes surrounding us. Something had to be done.

On a Monday morning I drove to the nearest town to look for a bookstore. Could not find one. So I drove to Forth Worth and eventually found one. I looked fo a man to wait on me. Found one. He was elderly. The young ones were all at Mineral Wells, or other like places. He asked what I was looking for. I need something in the self help department. In what area do you think you need impprovement. I told him my constant failure in securing better living quarters. He said, I have just the book for you. And he went to find the book. "HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE" I drove back home and began reading it and I think it was the only time we had to go out for dinner. S was impressed by my daring to drive that far. But he also poh pohed the idea that a book could change the rental market.

On Tuesday I went on my search. And I tried a little harder place. I was in the high rental area. The first place I struck gold. A lovely elderly woman was the owner of the real estate. She gave me the usual talk about the long list ahead of me. and the probability it would be at least three months before my name would be at the top. And so I began using hat I learned in my book. I admired the roses that grew along the front of the property. She said: would you like a cup of tea? I stroked my forehead and sighed and said: I was hoping you'd ask. And then we got into hair colors. She wanted to dye her hair but lacked the nerve. I said, and really meant it: Oh, don't do that. You have the most beatiful color now. If it changes you will not look like you any more. etc etc.

She said: You know, I can tell people you are family and put you at the top of the list. (I beg the person at the top of the list to forgive me.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Life in Mineral wells Texas

The Lt. who was drinking orangejuice and writing to his wife whom I called W arrived with his wife. I was so happy to see that they were going to live in Mineral Wells also. W's wife was a very warm, friendly person and we became good friends which lasted to the end of their lives. But I was jealous of the fact that because they were married before the war, they had silver implements and sheets and all thosee things we need to live graceful lives. Many of those things were unavailable to us and when we entertained there was very little grace showing. But when our year was up and we left Texas it seemed it had been a wonderful year with lots of fun and lots of love.

But there was also strife and heartache. The first day we settled in we arranged to have the Forth Worth paper delivered. Each day there was a plea for any medical person to come forward to work with a ward ful of young polio patients. It broke my heart, that here I was, probably knowing more about the treatment of polio than any one else. I had to go. I asked S if I could volunteer three days a week. He said yes of course. I called the Hospital and they said' Thank you, thank you, forever. The next morning the paper had a headline big enough to announce THE SKY IS FALLING. Angel of mercy. Warm Springs educated, soldier's wife willing to come work with our children. I had never had a headline devoted to me before. Wow. Little did I know.

That evening S and I went to the movies after dinner. I can't remember what we were seeing. Suddenly the lights came up and the movie went blank. And just as suddenly there were two burly MPs standing in front of us and one of them said; Lt. S, you are ordered to come to the Post. Col Botts orders you to come. I walked home and I really don't know if S had to ride in a jeep or something worse. I kept thinking, why. What could be so important that it could not wait til tomorrow. When S came home, he was worried but he couldn't keep from laughing.

The Col told me I have to forbid you to go to Forth Worth. S said I almost told the Col about the green nail polish. We were so new there that we did not know that Forth Worth was off limits for the GI.s Col Botts was worried about germs and such. Since S was an officer I did not know that we were GIs. And so I called the hospital again and told them the developments. The headline in the next paper was bigger and blacker than before. US Army will not let the Angel of mercy....

Well, that day I was called in to see the Col. I don't remember how, but I know it was less dramatic. The little man roared: You get the paper to recind that headline. We are not forbidding you to go. But we are putting your husband under quaranteen on the post if you go. I said Sir, If you have children I hope they are treated with more respect than you have shown us. And if I had anything but tennis shoes on, I would have klicked my heels, turned around, and left.

A few days later, a group of parents came and rang our doorbell. We come from Ammarillo, Texas. We read about you in the paper. If we bring our cildren here, will you work with us? I said: of course I will. They were forbidden by the County Health Department to bring their children there. The idea that persons who were no longer sick but suffering from the after effects of the disease could affect a village or a troop of soldiers is so ridiculous. But remember where we are.

S was nervous that they would send him overseas immidiately. But then the Army would not have anything to hang over my head. And so we stayed in Mineral Wells for exactly a year.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Last time I told a huge lie. I said that I had never had an accident. S and I had had a going oversea vacation and when that was over we separated in Maryland. During the vacation we had visited S;s relatives in New England and we had arranged for a new job for me while he was away. And an apartment. When we separated and said our last goodby, I began my trip to NYC. I was scared. And I had never felt so alone.

Somewhere we came to a traffic stop and a young sailor asked if he could have a ride to NJ. I was happy to let him ride for it would make me think of other things along the way. That did not work the way I thought, for all of a sudden my tears began to flow at a terrible rate. The traffic was stop and go. It was a Sunday afternoon at the end of August. We got out on a country road and we sped up slightly. While I was wiping away tears the car in front of me slammed on his breaks and turned left. I tried to stop, but I had been following too closely and I crashed into the car and he drove off and left me there with a crushed left front fender. I could not drive for the fender was rubbing on the wheel. My hero, the sailor, went out and with brute force grabbed hold of the fender and pulled it away from the wheel. I could drive strait ahead and I could turn right and so we continued North. I dropped off my hero in Newark and found the Holland Tunnel and prayed there would be no turn to the left. I had a strange feeling I could get to the apartment by going in a huge circle always turning right.

Late in the afternoon I arrived at my address. I parked the car and never moved it again. I got my key and when I put it in the lock and turned it IT BROKE. I called the super and he was gone. I sat down on the front step and cried. When the super returned he let me in and the phone that we had contracted for was not there, I sat down and cried. I asked the super if I could use his phone to call S. He said NO. So I cried. Next morning on my way to the hospital I went to a locksmith on Second Ave. He said I can't make a new key for you, for when a key is twisted as it breaks it stretches. So I cried some more. When I got on the Second Ave bus the driver said I had to have the correct change. So I cried some more. When I got to the hospital Miss Friberg, a fellow PT said, Svensson you look awful. Tell me what's the matter. I told her, and after thet I never cried again.

This has been an aside and there is much much more from Mineral Wells. I will tell you about my fight with the Arny which could have sent S oversea prematurely. But we did have a year there.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An apartment and a Car

When S came home I told him I had found an apartment and even though it was not the Taj Mahal, I promised I would find something better soon. So we went out and looked at our future first home and B O and his wife fell in love with S and could see he was a real gentleman. They were eager to have us and S was surprised that I really could like to move from the hotel into this not so perfect house. I had told him about my feeling divorce was around the corner if we stayed in the hotel.

Now I could cook and fatten up S. He weighed one pound less than I did. His mother told me when we met at Christmas time that she had tried so hard to get him more substantial and never succeeded. I had not had a chance to cook sinc I left home, however I had learned scads when I worked as a kitchen maid. It was hard to find neccesities in the stores because of the war, but we made do with what we were given by the Plentys. The first morning Sam was astonished when he got fried potatoes and eggs and bacon. And more so when he got home for dinner. I had to learn to deal with ratiioning but we ate well.

We did have a draw back as far as eating went. Our table was under the window in the kitchen and every time we sat down to eat, Lucie , the resident cow, would come right up to the window to see what we were eating. Then she turned around as if to leave. But not until she had relieved herself on a flat rock directly below our window.

S decided we needed a car and put an ad in the paper. A young private found out he was being shipped overseas and was selling his car. The car was a Buick with Louisianna plates. It was a good car and did us well til I left it in the street in NYC where it collected tickets and tickets. During the Battle of the Bulge S got a message from NY police that he had to appear in court for unpaid parking fines. He wished he could go.

S took me out in the country for my first driving lesson. He tried to tell me how to shift and brake and I did well. Then he said, turn right. I turned right but I did not know that I had to stop turning and we went into the ditch. S verbally abused me and I said I will never take another lesson from you. Next morning I went to the Taxi station on the corner across from the Baker Hotel. I asked the woman who owned the outfit If I could rent one of her drivers to give me a lesson. She said no, her insurance would not allow it. A man sitting in the back of the room said' I will do it for you'. He drove out in the counry and we repeated what had happened the first time I drove. All except the verbal abuse. From then on I never had a driving lesson until about 1998 when I took a lesson for seniors to reduce insurance bills. And I have never had an accident and only one speeding ticket.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mineral Wells, Texas

Wineral Wells was a small town near Weatherford where Mary Martin came from. It was about an hour from Forth Worth. It was the home of Crazy Water Chrystals. There was even a Craxy Water Hotel where the Hoosier Hot Shots played and broadcast nationally every Saturday night. This wash board and rubberband Band will turn up in my life about 25 years later/ Hope you will all be with me when they appear again.

Ptolemy asked how we got to Texas. We went there by rail. I don't remember if we had upper and lower berths or if we had just bought tickets for the upper. I know we spent most of our time there. I think we headded straight South and then went West. It was unbearably hot and uncomfortable. But what happened after we had to go by a little spur to Mineral Wells was like day and night. This little train had all the windows open. People were standing in the ailes and the people in the seats were in layers and some of them were eating cold fried chicken. And the flies were having a ball. Luckily it was a fairly short trip of maybe an hour or two. The temperature was over 100. From the station we took a taxi and we were so eager to get into a shower or a bath tub. We drove over huge flat areas and all of a sudden a sky Scraper appeard in the distance. Baker Hotel where we had reservations.

When we arrived in our room on the topmost floor, we had a big double bed with a huge fan, slowly rotating above. I kept looking for Sidney Greenstreet coming out of the shadows any time. We had to go out in the heat to get something to eat for we were starving. We ate in the diningroom at the hotel and S ran into a Lt. he knew from School. They chatted about the possibility of finding apartments in Mineral Wells and this man had tried for over a week and the response was always 'In five or six weeks.'

We spent a restless night and early in the morning S left and shared a ride with someone to Camp Walters. I knew that our divorce would be the next importtant chapter of my life if we had to live in this hotel. So I got dressed and went out to see about an apartment. I tried the obvious apartments and got the same message we had heard yesterday. So I tried the back streets and the small little houses and the verdict was the same. So I had a brilliant idea. I would go to the newspaper and see if they knew anything. I was standing at the counter waiting my turn when the man ahead of me said I want to put in an ad for an apartment for rent. He looked exactly like B O Plenty in the Dick Tracy cartoon. I said can I see the apartment before you put the add in? Well of course, little lady. Let's go and see it. Get in my truck and I will have you there in minutes. And so off we took in a red rickety pickup.

The place when we got there looked clean and neat from the outside. But it ws a tiny, tiny house. We knocked on the door and Mrs Plenty and their two children stood there. The older one was probably in her teens and the little one was 5 or 6. Mrs P wanted to know what kind of people we were before even showing me the place. She said: 'we don't allow any drinking here.' Oh, we can't live here then, for my husband has a drink every day before dinner. She looked puzzled and said: do you tell me he drinks and never gets drunk. I assured her that was the case. Well maybe we will make an exception. Let me show you the place. The house, probably up until yesterday had been a one family residence. An then the family moved overr to one side of the house. They had what had been the livingroom and the kitchen We would get one bedroom and one bedroom that had been turned into a kitchen.

There was one bathroom in the house and that was between our bed room and our kitchen. That meant the Plenties had to come over to our side to use the bathroom. And our lovemaking would be heard on the P's side, for it was obvious that the walls were paper thin. They mentined the rent and it was cheap. I said I have to show it to my husband before I can say we will take it. We will be back when he comes back from the Post.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


S wanted to go to NYC for he hd never been there. We did the normal sight-seeing things. We cruised around Manhattan, we saw the city from the top of the Empire State Building, we ate lunch in a Jewish Delicatessen, we saw many museums, and we wandered endlessly through Central Park. Rode the subway. The most remarkable thing happened on the top floor of a fifth Ave bus. I discovered that S was a REPUBLICAN. I became quiet and sat pondering our future. What we had, would never last. How should I handle the rest of our time in NY. Or the rest of our lives. Pretend I had forgotten.

S had heard me speak of Dr Hansson and I asked if we could invite him for dinner. We did do that, and Sam was very impressed by this stately handsome man. He was an adept convesationalist and the evening was a huge success. Dr Hansson said some flattering things about my development from kitchenmaid to physical therapist. We also invited L, whose mother had tried to get him to marry someone like me. There is an interesting story about him and his mother which I learned about many years later and which I will talk about when this story comes that far. That dinnner date was fun for me but less so for S. And then S wanted to go to NBC to see a brodcast. Somehow Dr Lipton turned up as we were standing at the counter asking for tickets to get in. He just said, Follow me. And he took us into the broadcasting room and asked us to sit in the front row. It was THE MONDAY NIGHT SYMPHONY directed by Alfred Wallenstein. When I went to School and was looking for free amusement it was one of my favorite programs. When Mr. W reached the podium he turnned around an bowed to us. It was a thrill of sorts.

And soon it was time for us to go to Texas. S had been told by the Army that he would have thirteen weeks of more training before being sent overseas. (I think thirteen is the correct time but it might have been less) When we arrived in Texas it seemed as if we had arrived in a different world.

Friday, September 12, 2008


All day I kept thinking WHAT HAVE I DONE. For me marriage was a forever sentence. And I had rushed into this situation because S was sensitive enough to almost cry when he read a beautiful segment of a book. I knew I would be miserable if I never saw him again, but how did I know if it was LOVE. The real thing.

There was going to be a little reception after the wedding and all my fellow pts assumed the responsibility for the food and the invitations to the President of the Foundation with wife. Also the doctors and families. And then all the other employees. The Chapel was full when we said our 'I dos'. But much more had to happen before that. I had to go to plea for at least two gas stamps. And let me tell you plea is not strong enough for what that little person put me through. I guess he had early on decided I would get the stamps but he wanted to have some fun. I had to tell him why I wanted to get married, why we had to go to Atlanta for the wedding dinner, why I didn;t wait til the war was over to get married and on and on. Finally success.

After supper, when it was still over 97* I got into my bathing suit, lit a fire in our fireplace and then burned all my pictures of Clark Gable. I felt I would somehow be unfaithful to S if I kept them till after we were married. Then I went through all my other papers and burned all letters from M and from former male friends. It was so hot in that room when I finished, for I had to read all the letters and cry a little over each, and over each photo of Clark Gable. I could have passed out from a heat stroke. S laughed when he heard about my struggles with the past.

Marie Heginnian, a fellow pt was my maid of honor. The pt who gave FDR the muscle test took my mother's place in church, the president of the Foundation gave me away and S had asked W to be his best man. I was so nervous that everything that followed the wedding is a haze in my mind. The trip into Atlanta was too hot and the car was too crowded. The Lts were so excited about being officers that the wedding for them, was just a little side show. The dinner in the Hotel was forgettable and the wedding night was forgettable. Next morning S and I left for NYC for our honeymoon and that was MEMORABLE.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What have I done!

S said, G. will you marry me? And I said, Yes. I can't remember if we hugged and kissed, but all of a sudden all hell broke loose. Some one said, Let's go tell W. He pulled himself away from the letter he was writing to his wife, brought his orange juice and came out into the piano room. And then he took over. He told me, You have to go into Atlanta tomorrow and see a doctor who can measure you for something to keep you from getting pregnant till S comes home again. And you have to buy a dress to get married in. And it has to be brown. A two piece dress or a dressy suit would be perfect for you. All of us here who have been together will leave on our graduation day so you should have the dinner in a restaurant near the rail road station in Atlanta. And you have to get a minister to marry you. Ask the Foundation if we can use the chapel for the wedding. And also ask the Foundation if we can use the car to drive us from the chapel to Atlanta. And you have to get a marriage licence. And you have to give notice that you are leaving. Talk about controlling! But since he was the only one who knew how to get married, he was a God send.

The next day I made an appointment with an md. I found a minister who said he would marry us. He was a Babtist and didn't tell anyone that this would be his first wedding. His hands were shaking more than my knees during the ceremony. I got permission for us to use the chapel. And we could use the Foundation's car and chauffeur only if I could find enough Gas Stamps for that long a ride.

Next day the woman who had given FDR the muscle test and I went to Atlanta to see the doctor and to buy the wedding outfit.
The GYN man was easy but it was the first time for me and excedingly embarrasing. Then he asked me when I had had the most recent period and he said: I have some bad news for you. If you are regular, You will have your next period on your wedding day.

What a worry. and then I remembered that my mother once told me about a friend of hers who had come to the USA when she was young. She did not have her period for over a year and she and her doctor were worried about her. Her Doctor said, If you go home and take a very strong mustard bath you can bring it on, maybe. Next day I went on the bus to the nearest town and bought a large box of Colman's Mustard. I remeember that I had little white gloves on and the mustard was in a little brown paper bag and when I got back to Warm Springs it was evident that I did not have to take a bath. The mustard was so strong that it's effect went through the little white gloves and the little brown bag.

Next time I will tell you how I spent the night before the weddding.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Life continues

What I remember from the daily grind.

Polio epidemic in North Africa. (affecting our service people.

Son of French Premier, Darlan with wife and secretary and private doctor arrived.

Mr Littledale, Editor of NY Times, who had crashed with Eddie Rickenbacker gave me my first art lessons. He was the only non polio patient at Warm Springs

For fifty cents we could have all our laundry washed and ironed. A Black woman came walking over the hills to pick up our dirty clothes which she returned later in the day. Because of the heat we had many changes, both uniforms and after work clothes.
It saddens me that the only thing I ever did in the South for the less fortunate was paying my bill double. It was difficult to get her to accept this extra money and she always left with many blessings. What could I have done if I had not been so absorbed in my own doings?

The officer candidates came on weekends. One was missing. The one with the car. (he had flunked) So all the others had to ride the train. It also more or less affected our dancing. No jukeboxes in Warm Springs. I continued seeing one of the eSes. I told you he wrote to M to ask what his intentions were. He had asked me to marry him the second time we met and it made me laugh out loud. For we certainly did not know each other at all. I knew one thing... he was prone to being controlling. Otherwise I only knew I enjoyed his comany. He loved to read and often on sunny days by the pool he read HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY. And he actually became moist around the eyes when he read an especially beautiful segment.

Finally came the last week end before they graduated. It was latish in the afternoon. we were all sitting around listening to a strange person playing boogie woogie on an untuned plinky sounding piano. Somehow the conversation came up about diamonds and engagement rings. I suddenly reealized that I would never see this S again if he left and went overseas. I had heard moments before that the average life span of a junior officer overseas was something like not quie a week, And they were all comparing notes about what they wwere doing after graduating, and I heard S say that he was going to a dude ranch in Colorado. What to do? While they were on the subject of diamonds I said Swedish men were lucky for the tradition in Sweden was a plain gold band for the engagement and a diamond came later for an anniversary or a first child. Then I said, Sam when are you getting my gold ring? He turned red and said; yoou can't joke about this. I said I am serious. If you want to hear more, turn on this program next time.

Monday, September 8, 2008

the rest of my future

One day, a Friday evening, Ruth ben Aerie, our librarian who was wheelchair tied, called me and asked me to take her cousin, Milton Susser and his Army buddies around to show them the Foundation. She had done me many favors and there was no way I could say no.

The candidates at the officer school slept alphabethically, and consequently the five people I met were all from the end of the alphabeth. Five of them, from R to W. I showed them the treatment areas, including the pools. And the dining room and the cottages where we pts lived. And then I shwed them FDR's cottages. They were very interested in all of it. They were very polite and said 'thank you'. They said they would be back next week end if the Army let them. The R person was very handsome and I looked forward to the next week end. One of the Ses had a car. And that was their way of travelling. W was married and spent every week end in his hotel room writing to his wife and drinking orange juice.

Next weekend came and they were all back. Ruth B had lined up dates for all of them except W. We all went to Pine Mountain Tavern where there was a Juke Box and we danced till it closed. R seemed to think I was his date. He was a polo player in civilian life. I had never met a polo player and I didn't know whot polo playing was. He as very disappointed and obviously was used to more adulation.

Next morning one of the Sess came around and asked if it was possible for him to swim in the out-door pool. I asked Ruth and she said yes.

I was wearing red nailpolish and as we were talking I could tell red polish was not acceptable in Ses world. All of a sudden he held me under water until I promised never to wear red polish again. THE NERVE I finally had to give in. Only because of lack of air.

Next Tuesday I got a letter from S saying R seems to think you are his and DD seems to think she has a monopoly on me. What are we going to do about it. signed S

Meanwhile I had sent an SOS to a friend in NYC saying I need a bottle of green nailpolish before next weekend. It arrived in time and when S saw me in the pool, I had green polish on my hands and on my feet. It was an ugly sight. S was practically speechless. He said I could wear red polish .

Sunday, September 7, 2008

gluteous cont.

I am going to try to tell you what a gluteous med. limp looks like. Mentally put a skeleton in front of you.You see a cranium balanced on the spinal column. Follow the spine down to the pelvic circle. The upper part of the lower limbs hold up the pelvic circle. Here is our problem. The gluteous med. is a small muscle that goes from the extension of the thigh bone to the very tip of the winglike part of the pelvis bone. When that muscle is rendered useless by polio, whenever the opposite leg is lifted up as it is when the next step is taken, the whole pelvic curcle falls down, or dips. I was told by Dr. Benet to find a couple of patients with this problem and work on substituting a muscle in the back to take over. I worked hard and when I had to demonstrate that there was a promise in teaching my system, there was much credit given me. There were wo people who thought I was too uppity, one was an older pt whose name was miss Swenson and Miss Partridge who was the ass. head of the pts. Remember those names. They will meet us again, later'

FDR returned again and this time he had Fala along. He never brought Eleonor which saddened me for she was a huge hero of mine.

We had an elderly pt who had given FDR all his muscle tests since Warm Springs opened. She asked me to help with the test that had to be given on this trip. She put on her bathing suit as did FDR. She handed me the record book which had to be fillled in with whatever changes showed up. I stood ashore and filled in the numbers she gave me. To my untrained eyes there was virtually no change from the previous test. When she was finished FDR asked the secret sevice person to go into his dressing room and get the hmmm he had left there. (I never heard what it was he wanted.) He came back and said; boss, I can't find it. FDR said: take Joe with you and find it. While both agents were gone FDR rolled off the treatment table he had been lying on, swam under water through a small opening into the outdoor pool and when the agents returned they became hysterical and screamed where is the boss? After a short play of hide and seek you could hear a booming hearty laugh form out doors.

Stephanie I wanted to get this off before I read the program about FDR and the pool. I am eager to read it. Thank you for telling me about it.

Next time I meet Sam.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Gluteus medius

During our morning classes we were encouraged to talk about how we were feeling about our own patients. One day I complained about one espially difficult problem I had with a young preteen girl. She had a an unusual limp when she walked and I could not figure out what muscle group was causing it. She was brought in during our class and was asked to walk across the room. With a few steps Dr Benet said who can tell me what muscle is weak. None of us new Pts knew. Then it was explained to us that it was the gluteus medius. And that it was very difficult to get a patient to concentrate on that while we were working.

If the gluteus medius is paralyzed is there no other muscle thast can take over. Everyone said no except maybe surgically. From then on, as lomg as I was at Warm Springs I dreamt about that limp and that muscle.

But I forgot I promised to tell about FDR coming. The first night he was there he ate in our dining room. He walked in on the arm of his son and it was evident that it was a huge struggle for him. He sat down at the head table and again struggled to undo the knee braces so he could put his feet under the table. You could hear the inaudible voices in all the patients heads saying ' if he can be president, think what I can do.

He gave a speech. And after dinner he struggled again to do by himself what normally was done for him. He was the best treatment for all the patients and you could see the look in the faces that they were all going to work harder.

We were all introduced to him and he had a few kind words to everyone, patient or staff. I remember he asked me about now being an American.

When he first arrived he got out of the car driven by the secret service people, got into his own convertible Ford, I think, and he backed out, drove up over the lawn and disappeared. He was the only one allowed to drive on the grass. And you could hear him laughing as he fled through the trees.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Warm Springs, GA

(First of all, Shreve put that picture of the high heeled shoes on my blog. It is a ridiculous picture and like some of you commented, far from realism. I have never painted sitting down. I have never painted in a dress. This was a publicity photo, taken by the publisher of a very fine paper called The Valley Pioneer in Danville CA. I had painted two portraits from photos sent by the staffs of California Governor Brown and Richard Nixon who were running for governor. I was hired by an interior decorator in Los Angeles whose name I have forgotten. She used the two portraits at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The rooms she created were called THE BODOIR OF MRS BROWN and THE BODOIR OF MRS NIXON. Both of the portraits were in front of me when the photo was taken but instead of concentrating on them, the photographer featured my shoes. Go figure. Someone asked for the year it was taken. Google the year Nixon ran for governor of CA.)

Warm Springs Foundation Hospial is a fair distance from the town of Warm Springs. The town consisted of a rail road station, a hotel and I suppose a gas station and a grocery store. If you wanted more excitement you had to go to Macon or Atlanta. There were two of us PTs on the train when I arrived. we did not know then that we would be living in the same cottage. Her name was Phyllis Mortimer, and alwas was called 'Snerdie'. If it weren't for that, I would have bet you that Charlie Mac Carty & Mortimer Snerd were not yet popular that early. We were picked up by the chauffeur.

Warm Springs was a wonderful, thriving institution. Morale there was higher than any I had seen before. Two teenage boys were lying prone on their stretchers one day, arguing which of them was better off. It was a long argument, and as far as I was concerned it was a heroic occurence. Neither boy had much muscle power but one had a hand he could use almost normally, and the other could shrug his shoulder. I am sure they both eventually used ther muscles and much more to live a fruitful life. That attitude really impressed me.

Our lives were full of excitement. We had breakfast in a huge dining room were patients arrived on crutches, in wheelchairs and on stretchers. Most of the Doctors had their meals there and all the nurses and PTs and I suppose the office staff also.
After the meal we PTs had classes and then we had fascinating practical work on paitients in their rooms or patients in the gym or patients in the pool. They had much time to rest and we were free to do what we wanted. some of us liked to play Bridge and the grown up patients were allowed to bypass that rest period and could play. There was a very attractive engineer from Proctor and Gamble who was a super Bridge Player. He used to call me 'Olga the beautiful Spy' I could not understand how I got that name. But soon even I noticed that no matter where I sat in the dining room, there was a strange man sitting near enough to her the conversation at our table. It turned out that President Roosevelt was coming for a visit, and since I was fairly new in the country, I was to be investigated. Apparently I passed whatever test I was taking for suddenly one day 'there he was.

Next time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


My main memories deal with successes with the new treament. And being hungry. The work was hard and constant. Every time the hotpacks were removed, a short treatment was recommended. If for instance the biceps was paralyzed, the upper arm was massaged and then given passive exersises. I would bend the arm, stroking the length of the muscle, and say: think that you are moving the arm. Concentrate on the origin of the muscle. Soon I will let you help me move the arm.

We had a little infant who didn't understand what was wanted from her. She was the only patient who remained in the hospital when I left eight or nine months later. It was hard to leave her. But every person in that place loved her and took care of her. I don't remember what her family's circumstances were.

My best recollection is a girl whose name was Polly-Anne Barber. Many parts of her body were involved and healed quite rapidly, except for a stubborn muscle located under her shoulder blade. When we tried to exercise it she was asked to take a big step away from the wall, put two hands on the wall, and then touch her nose on the wall. Every time she tried this, her right shoulder blade would stick out like a wing. She worked so hard and was such good patient. When she went home, she promised to keep working. Next spring I got an Easter card from her. I still have it. It says:'Dear Miss Svensson. My shoulder does not stick out when I push. Happy Easter. Jessica, can you find out if Polly Anne is still alive. She would be in her middle or late seventies by now.

When I arrivedd in ny new home, I felt that the way to m's heart was to knit him a pair of kahki socks. I had never knitted socks before so I had to learn all about turning a heel and I must have had to rip that fist sock more than ten times. Finally I mastered the art and then I had to go shopping for items to put in my shoe box and get it sent in time to be delivered before Christmas. I found a delicatessen and bought a small canned ham and some sweets. I felt like a million dollars when it was finally on its way.

A week later we were told that the ship the army used for Christmas presents had been sunk in the Atlantic. We never knew if it was only a rumor. We had to wait for a thank you to know for sure if it arrived or not. It was sad.

Every Tuesday after work I used to go downtown to buy a Sunday NY Times. I was sitting on the crowded bus filled by GIs and officers. I was trying to manage the thick news paper. Noticed a First Lt. bending over my seat trying to read over my shoulder. So I said 'Would you like the sporting pages. He said No thank you. Never read them. I would like the book section. I said 'Sorry, thats the section I wanted when I went downtown for the paper. But if you write down your address I will be glad to mail it to you when I have finished reading it. He did and I did and then there was a call from him asking me to go out for dinner. I went through the usual line: Thank you but. He said that was OK with him. After dinner we walked downtown and when we passed the biggest hotel in town he said: Would you like to check in and make love for a couple of hours. I was shocked at such directness and laughed and said no. That was the end of him. He was a psychologist and judged people who were trying to get into the US Airforce.

One day when we had only one or maybe two patients left, I recieved a note from Dr Hansson in NY that I had been selected for a Post Graduate Scholarship from Warm Springs GA. So I guess all the readers of this epistle can guess whose name I am lkely to drop next.