Your Mother's Hands (entry 11)


Summer of 1962

This was a very traumatic summer. Graduation was over and so many decisions to make. I did not get a scholarship, and my hopes of going to college to become a teacher or nurse were gone. I knew nothing of financial aid . I had looked into Wood Dental Assisting School in Indianapolis. Marvel had been a Dental Assistant and a career in it sounded interesting, also the tuition was affordable. All of my correspondence was typed on my portable, making myself carbon copies.

My Mom was pretty adamant about not "giving" me money to go on to school. They knew I was "in love" and sending me on to school was, in her opinion, "just a waste of money". Besides, "the boys" did not get to go to college and I wasn't either. Mom gave an ultimatem, "go to school or a BIG WEDDING".

Of course, Mom wanted a big wedding, but I chose to go on to school. I had gotten my papers back , and I had been accepted. Mom was mad! It was something that I had done on my own. I said, "OK.......FINE"---- Then I found out THEY were not going to help me.

Still I trudged on!!!

Throughout the Summer, I saved every dime I could. I worked a bit at Home Outfitters, a few nights at the Dairy Queen, my 4-H ribbon money, and I did not spend ANY money except to keep gas in the car.

I did NOT have enough money for the FULL amount and arranged for a payment plan. I'd hoped to get a part-time job on weekends, at a mall or someplace in Indianapolis, but again my Mom protested. My home life was becoming miserable.

Finally, my decision was made. I WAS going on to school. I'd figure out a way to pay the second semester when the time came.

Kenny was going to drive me, but then Mom and Dad decided to, as we had the station wagon. Indianapolis, HERE I COME!

I had rented a room on 20th and Delaware Street, a huge 3 story old limestone mansion, all made into rental rooms and small apartments. My room cost $7 a week. I had enough extra money for the first month! OK, I had my first semester paid, books bought, room rent paid. It was a start. NOW WHAT?

And oh, the anxiety of being away from home, my pets, from my boyfriend. What an empty feeling, but it was MY CHOICE. Kenny kissed me "goodbye" and left with my Mom and Dad. I went to my room and cried and cried. But, I had made up my mind and I was "becoming" a Dental Assistant.

That was a very TOUGH week. I was not used to city life and sirens drove me crazy. I was not used to only one room in a huge house. I was not used to living with others. I was not used to not being able to pick up a phone and talk to Kenny at night. Now it was going to cost a long distance fee, and I had no money.

To help things though, Mr. Clark, who owned the house, offered to drive me to school every day if I'd be ready by 7:45am. NO waiting for me. That was no problem on my part. His wife taught English at Wood and she was a friend of Mrs. Dinwiddie, my D.A. instructor! How great was THAT..? !!!! Kenny had a hard time too, and he phoned me. THAT was a BIG DEAL. We were not used to long distance calls and that added expense.

Patty (Kenny's older sister) worked in Indianapolis and lived in a nice apartment building, but we did not keep in touch during the week. I had made arrangements to ride home to Loogootee with her on Friday nights. I remember dressing........dress with matching shoes and hose and taking home my suitcase full of dirty clothes.

I met a whole new group of girls Some already worked in dental offices. Many already knew dental terms. I felt so dumb and insecure, and so COUNTRY! And, I had never ridden a bus. I had to learn schedules, bus stops, fares and transfers, and how to get BACK to my room on "20th and Delaware".

I had not been around many black people, except for Mary Francis and she was just "one of the girls", and they had to sit "at the back of the bus", and could not eat at the lunch counter at Hooks or the dime Store. This made me uncomfortable.

I made friends with Michelle Kinnamon, and she rode the bus with me. She went on further to Kessler. She worked part-time in a Mall and knew how I could get a job. She also worked in a dental office. She was very "fiery", quick witted, and helpful. In later years, our lives would intervene , again a strange twist of fate!

Oh how my hands shook and shook! I was scared and insecure. This was such a different world for me. But, I was going to be the very best Dental Assistant. I cried. I was so alone.

Kenny came to meet us as soon as we "hit" Loogootee. I know I must have jumped into his arms. I know he missed me as much as I had missed him. He could not wait another second, as he had bought a wedding ring set! And, he put the engagement ring on my finger. It was a very beautiful set. From then on we talked about our future. Kenny's plans over the next weeks, he wanted to join the Air Force. His Dad really did not want him to. This was during the Vietnam War. My plan was to become a Dental Assistant, be married and I could work on a military base...….having a job and contributing.. On with our DREAM!

Well, when Mom saw my ring, she had a fit, to say the least. A FIT....!!! I could write an entire book on that conversation. Any way, I did not wear my ring until I was 18. (Mom and Dad were 17 when they graduated high school, and they would not be 18 until Christmas of that year). As a matter of fact, I do not recall an announcement in the paper. Mom probably thought it cost too much, and as a matter of contention, "I was putting quite a strain on the budget", as somehow it was decided I'd get my $7 room rent PLUS some money for bus fare, lunches and grocery money. I was TOLD I was not to get a job in Indianapolis, as I was to "just" keep my grades up and they would give me additional money. They were probably afraid I'd get a job and NEVER come back home again like my oldest brother Gene did. Keep in mind, I was still only 17, and in their very conservative eyes, not even legal to make my own decisions. Still a child. THEIR child.

Now that I look back, Maybe they had a hard time, too. Letting go is not easy.

Let me go back to the Summer of '62.

Kenny was on a surveying crew at Midwest Engineers, putting in water systems at Nashville Indiana and towns around New Albany, Floyd Knobbs, Elizabethtown KY. He was working with older engineers and making pretty good money "for a kid" as his Dad would say.

A lot of older "boys" in Loogootee were driving nice cars. Now Kenny and his folks had a 1959 Chevy. A nice car. But, of course, Kenny dreamed of a snazzy CORVETTE.

One day Jesse (my Grandad Ellis) said "Son, I traded your car on one of THEM cars you've been wantin'..."..!!! Well, sometimes Jesse got things a bit "mixed up" and he traded for a CORVAIR. Oh, my GOD, was Kenny ever pissed. I think he tried about everything to tear that car up. HA!!! It was a beautiful light robin egg blue, bucket seats, SMALL flip down back seat. And, YES we flipped it down! It had a certain kind of muffler and you could really hear it coming and GOING.

THAT TRADE-IN BECAME A MEMORY.

Life after graduation. Turned loose into the REAL WORLD, but still living under our parents roofs. We each wanted independence, but were yet so very dependent. We did have WORKING HANDS, though.

Fall and Winter 1962

My life in "The House" and going to school, was leveling out. Everyone in the house worked. I was the only student. I had to study a lot. However, they were all so nice. We shared food and cooked together. The basement had several stoves, refrigerators, and dinette sets, Sometimes, I made soups or stews and baked. In turn, they bought groceries and did dishes. We played cards, listened to records, did each other's hair and nails.

I could sew, and helped make bridesmaids dresses and veils. I hemmed skirts.

No boys in the rooms, only in the basement and living room. OUT by 10pm, and we followed the RULES. Mr Clark brought us cases of Cokes! We were HIS girls and he "protected" us.

We had one common phone number but 4 different extensions. That worked for us. We had a common area to get our mail.

We were responsible for keeping the whole house clean, and we did! It had comfortably WARM steam heat. It had a wonderful entry way with antique furniture, lighting and a beautiful 3 tier staircase with balcony. It had nice wallpaper, and gorgeous large area rugs. It was like a Southern Plantation. Not really MY dream home, but it was a lovely experience living there.

It was my first time of really sharing space and experiences. Lot's of GIRL TALK. THAT was different for me. On the weekends that I did not go home to Loogootee, we stayed up and played Monopoly and Euchre. We would make homemade pizza and carmel corn.

October 13, 1962

Patty picked me up, and we started for home. First stop was near Bargersville to pick up her wedding dress, at Jackie Shockley's mother's house.....Mimi Briggs. ( I believe a girl that Patty worked with). Patty also had a TV in the back seat.

We pulled into the path of a FAST moving car. We NEVER saw it coming. It hit the right fender area, my passenger side......PRETTY HARD. The driver of the other car was a Center Grove football player, still in is uniform. He died on the scene. Patty was "banged" up rather badly: face, legs and she hit the steering wheel. I had a hurt ankle, but otherwise I was OK. Patty was picked up by ambulance. I think I rode with someone else, but can't remember.

(It's interesting that not that many years later, Mom and Dad bought this house only miles from the intersection of this accident.)

This was a week before Patty was to be married to George Zeigler. It was her last day at work at Western Union. She spent a week in Franklin hospital.

Kenny (and Patty's) folks listened to WTTV channel 4 news and they announced a wreck in the Center Grove area. After I got checked at the hospital, I made the phone call home. Patty was admitted after ER treatment. When the Ellises phone rang, and we girls were running late, Kenny said, "I bet they've had a wreck"., and sure enough, that was the news I had for them.

At the time, I did not know the other driver had died.

Kenny and his Dad drove to Franklin via SR 44, which is very windy out of Martinsville, in the "famous" blue Corvair.

We met the boys parents, Suttons, and they stayed with me until Jesse and Kenny picked me up. I remember them holding MY HAND and just cried and cried and cried. They had lost their child and yet were caring for me. The following Sunday, Kenny, his parents and I went to the funeral home for visitation. Patty was in the hospital for about a week. This all was very traumatic for her and she had a difficult time dealing with it for years.

Patty and George's wedding went on as planned.

It was a somber time in our lives.