Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Bad Old Day's

The Bad Old Day's


This is another event that happened in my earlier life. I think it was about 1947. It was right after WW2 and finding a house or apartment to live in was almost impossible, and to find one you had to get up with the first crow of the rooster. It was a morning job, as soon as the paper arrived. Because if there was an ad in the newspaper about an available rental, you had to be the first to arrive, or you missed it. Back in those days most landlords just took their chances on who had good credit or a good reputation. If you looked at it first and wanted it, the landlord would accept you. There may have been some that didn’t do it that way, but it’s the way I remember it. You paid the next months rent. There was no deposit, or last month in advance. No lease agreements were signed. We finally hit it lucky, and was able to rent an apartment, so called. It was a huge two-story house that had been built for a large family. The landlady and her husband (She was the head honcho of that family, I think we called her Mrs. Mac) lived in one of the apartments downstairs, and the upstairs had been renovated into three apartments. It had formerly been 4 bedrooms. It should have been made into one very nice apartment. Our apartment was on the back of the house, with not much of a view. We could see the back yard with the wash house, a small house with an electric washing machine. It was the kind with the wringer, not automatic. We could see the alley. We had two rooms, and they were across the hall from each other. One room was our bedroom and the other room was our very small combo living room and kitchen. We shared the hall with two other neighbors. They were young newly married couples, as we were. We got so well acquainted with them, we became almost life long friends, but I have lost touch in the past few years. It’s no wonder we became such good friends, because we were practically living together. We also shared an icebox in the hallway, and I do mean icebox. We each had one shelf in the icebox. It was not a refrigerator. It didn’t plug into anything. An iceman brought a big block of ice for it about twice a week. We had to remember to empty the pan under the icebox that caught the dripping ice, or we had a mop job. I really don’t know if that was assigned to anybody in particular or we just took turns. We also shared a sink that was located in this hallway. That was where our water source was, but you took the water into your apartment to use. There was a partial bathroom that we also shared with these other two neighbors. The bathroom only had a toilet. You washed your hands in the hallway sink. We had to take our soap, towel and whatever downstairs to the landlady’s apartment and knock on her door and ask if you could take a bath. She had a sign posted that we were only allowed two baths per week. That is the honest to God truth. She kept track of each person because my husband tried to take a third bath one week and got turned down. He should have known better. A milkman delivered our milk on the front steps of the building. Milk came in glass bottles. He knew how much milk to leave by how many empty bottles that were left on the steps. This landlady had signs posted all over the place, the wall in the stairway, the bathroom, and the entry hall. She had a ten-watt bulb in the stairway and had a sign to turn light off when not in use. Another sign read "Radio’s off by 9 PM." Sometimes Andy and Mary forgot to turn their radio off at 9 PM. Their apartment was directly over her apartment so she kept poking her ceiling with the broom handle until they got the message. One time on a dark cloudy day, she came upstairs and knocked on my door. When I opened the door she said, "I was in the back yard and saw that you have your light on, it’s the middle of the day so turn that light off." We were each assigned a wash day, and heaven help you, if it rained on your day, because you were just out of luck. Even though there were more days than tenants, you could not change your day. Rain was a factor on wash day because the only means of drying clothes were by clotheslines. Our other neighbors were Herb and Lorraine. Lorraine and I were fast friends almost from the first time we meet. We had a lot in common. We were the same age and both had married and left our families and came to a strange place and didn’t know anybody else, and even our names were almost identical. They were from Arizona. We were inseparable. It was so wonderful to have a friend. Yes, I had one friend. Finally I had a friend, and something to write home about.