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.



12 comments:

Jimh. said...

I think today you would hve to be REALLY hard up for a place to live to live in a pace like that, but we are so used to our lot of privacy nd free wil, tht I don't think nyone would put up with it...I don't know.

I am glad you made it!

Goofy said...

Wow, I don't think I could live in a situation like that!
My first apartment sounded similar in that the landlady gave the tenants days and times to do laundry in the laundry room. (sigh...) And wouldn't you know, I WORKED during that day and time. I always had to truck my dirties to a laundromat on my days off. And she wouldn't change the schedule for ANYTHING!

Raggedy Girl said...

Lorrene:
I thought you were around my age but if you were living like this after the war then you are more like my Mom's age. This beautiful memory blog was like stepping back into my Mom's life after the war and was so precious. My Mom went home to heaven in 2005 and I miss her so much. That you are running a blog and posting all these beautiful and helpful posts is a real blessing. We are destined to repeat the past if we cannot learn from it. Thank you so much and I am so glad I found you and know why so many people said such nice things about you.
Roberta Anne

Diane said...

I have long said people of later generations are not made of the same stuff as are people of your generation. This post proves my point! If some of us younger girls had been asked to live like that, it would have been 'hurry home to Momma and Katie bar the door to try to keep from coming back'!!!! I so admire you Grandma. You and all those of your generation who know so much more about sacrifice than do most of the younger generations. You are an amazing lady! God bless!

Diane

Cora said...

That would have been tough. I am glad you found a friend it is kinda funny now my best friend is from Arizona, well she still lives there but communication is a little easier these days.

FaerieMama said...

Lorrene, I LOVE reading about your life. I hope you post more stories like this one. I often wish I grew up in your generation. I know it was hard, but people were less spoiled. I hate how gluttonous my generation is. I'm partly glad th economy is tough right now, as people are having to learn to do without. That is a GOOD thing. Keep writing! I wish you had a book on your early life I could read!

Robyn said...

Wow, that landlord was one tough cookie!!!! I think experiences like that make you tough...and you are probably one tough broad. That's easy for me to say as I sit here with my lights on, in the middle of the day, shame on me.

Grandma Blog said...

Robyn,I always have a lamp or two on in my living room. Now that I think of it, maybe it stems from that incident. I remember how much I resented it at the time, and I turned the light back on as soon as she left. I guess I had a little attitude.

Carol said...

Please keep writing about your memories! It's the small things that are the most fascinating!

Carol

Stephanie Frieze said...

Thank you or the wonderful story, Lorrene. My mother tells a similar story of living in Corvalis, OR while my father was attending OSC followig WWII. Their landlord would turn off the electricity certain times of the day and so they couldn't keep any frozen food in the tiny freezer of their refrigerator. I'm sure that cramped my mother's style as she loves ice cream. My in-laws ended up living in one of those little travel trailers while my father-in-law attended college. I guess that whole entire generation had to camp for a while after the war. Keep writig, Lorrene.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Lorrene, if you want to listen to some good big band music check out KUOW online. The show airs Saturday nights from 7 PM to midight. It's part of our Saturday.

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