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Off To Washington State

A few days later we boarded a small, 2 engine airplane from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, a few friends and relatives saw us off, taking pictures and movie pictures of us. I got airsick; we landed at the Worcester Airport, just a few miles away - then off to La Guardia Airport (after former Mayor), in New York City (it has since been renamed Kennedy Airport). There we boarded a larger airplane and flew to Seattle, Washington - by then I was good and sick.

When we landed in Seattle, we got on a bus to Tacoma. When we got off the bus, at the depot, it was late at night and we went to the first hotel we could find. It was old, smelly, dirty and we thought that's just the way it was going to be out there in the "rugged West".

We heard a lot of noise in the hall and looked out. There was an old man, with a long, grey beard walking down the hall. He had many young girls with him and his wife. They had long skirts and looked very old-fashioned (they must have been Amish, but we didn't know about Amish in those days - and thought that's just the way they dressed in the "rugged West"). We heard trains go by during the night, and pictured them as old-fashioned type trains, certainly not like we had in Boston.

Early the next morning we went for a walk to see what it was like out there. We went way up a hill, and there was civilization as we knew it - buses, cars, regular restaurants, regular dressed people. It was a relief to us, but a bit of a disappointment, too.

We got a map and found the Air Base on it - then we got on a bus and got off in an area close to the base. There we found a studio apartment we thought we could afford, and began walking around the neighborhood.

We found a car dealer and were looking for a car for not more than the $300 we had. Way in the back, under a heavy coat of dust, we found our "first car". It was a green Ford, 2 Door, 1953 model. I drove it around the block - and we bought it. We took it home, washed it, polished it and then drove around to show it off. It had two spotlights, whitewall tires, skirts above each tire. We drove back to the car dealer and he didn't recognize the car - or at least that's what he said to please us. We were happy with that car...took a lot of pictures of it.

I took Joe out for driving lessons; the first corner he made, he didn't slow down at all and I think we made the corner on two wheels. Eventually, he got his license and then he did all the driving.

Joe went to the base every day, or on shifts - I walked around the neighborhood. We made friends with a boy who lived next door to our apartment, we took him to the drive-in with us one night. He wanted us to adopt him - his parents didn't give him much attention, or so he said. His name was "Larry".

We called my Mom and gave her our address, so she could send our trunk full of everything we owned. Until it arrived, we used my coat for a blanket and slept with no pillows, we almost froze - this was September and October; I got the flu, and pregnant.

A month later I began to throw up every morning; we knew nothing about pregnancies, but somehow thought maybe that was it. We were very excited and happy - bought two maternity outfits and began wearing them right away; saw Doctor and he confirmed it. Medication was on the base, so I went there a couple of times for shots for the morning sickness, but the shots were almost as bad as the problem - so, got prescription from Doc, and the pills helped a lot. Six weeks later it stopped.

We picked out names for the baby right away. Joe wanted a son named after his best friend Paul - so it was Paul Joseph. And, if a girl, we decided on Rose Marie because it was the name of a song we both liked, that Nelson Eddie and Marie McDonald sang (wwaayy back when...). I think they sang it in a movie where Nelson Eddie was a Mountie, trying to win Marie McDonald - they were very famous at the time. The song goes: "Oh, Rose Marie, I love you. I'm always thinking of you. No matter what I do, I can't forget you - at times I wish that I had never met you. But if I'd ever lose you, t'would mean my very soul to me. Of all the flowers there are in the forest, I love you, Rose Marie."

Right away we figured we would need a larger place, so looked for something else to rent. We found a tiny house, behind the owners' house. It was right on a lane and we had our privacy back there. We had a small strip of dirt near the fence and planted sweet peas to climb up the fence, that first Spring.

I was sitting at the kitchen table one night, writing letters to friends back in Massachusetts, when I thought I heard Joe's car pull up in the lane - he had just left for shift work and I thought he forgot something. I looked out the back window - it was pretty dark and I could see the headlights and then a flashlight. A man had the front door open and was shining the flashlight on his "exposed" body parts... I was 3 months pregnant, no telephone, the windows were the kind that you push out, with no locks, the door didn't have a lock on it...I got really scared. I prayed a lot, as I always did - and he finally went away. I was afraid to run from the little house to the big house where I would have some help - but, finally I decided he must be gone and I ran.

The landlords were very old; they were farm people from the mid-West, who had retired in Tacoma. They were Christians, the kind that I wasn't familiar with, yet. They seemed like fanatics... Anyhow, they took me in and offered to call the police, but I was too scared to handle anything else that night - I don't remember that we ever did call the police. They fixed up the house, making it more secure and eventually added a room on to it - for when the baby came. We had a small kitchen, a small bathroom and a living room where the couch made into a bed - there was a space heater that didn't work too well. Sometimes it was so cold that we plugged in the toaster in the living room - to give off some heat.

Henry and Daisy Chavet were the landlords; they also rented out an apartment above them. Rigby's rented that apartment; the wife was Japanese and he was an officer in the Army at Fort Lewis, which is right next to McChord A.F.B., where Joe was stationed. They had a young daughter named Mary (pronounced Marii - by the Japanese Mom). I went to visit her a few times for tea. She was very clean, wiped the entire apartment floor with a cloth, three times a day. She had two tall, glass cases with Japanese dolls in them.

My new friend came over to see our daughter Rose (after she was born), with her husband - it wasn't that good a time because Rose had a diaper rash that I just couldn't get under control and was airing her (nude) on the couch. I seemed like such an inexperienced Mom, next to the Japanese lady - her baby was always spotless. They told us they were expecting another baby. Later they moved into a larger place across town and we didn't see them again. We heard they had a son named Tommy.

My Mom, back in Massachusetts, had a baby shower for us and sent the things out. It was a good thing she did, bless her heart - because in the military there isn't any extra money. She had sent us money for Christmas, and Joe bought a jacket that he really needed, and I made another maternity top, and we had only 25 cents left to buy a face cloth. There was a really nice one for 25 cents, or we could get 2 of the 10 cent ones - we bought the nice one and it was the only one we owned.

We went looking for our first Christmas tree and waited until the night before, hoping prices would come down on them; they were all marked down half price. We found one that said 25 cents on it, it was a real short one and we were going to put homemade, paper decorations on it - we gave them the 25 cents and went home so happy - then we looked at the price tag in the light and it said $2.50. I guess the tree salespeople didn't have the heart to tell us that it was more than what we had.

Our one splurge was a TV - we found one where we could pay something like $5 a month on it and we had it a long time. It was a small, Admiral, black and white TV - before color even came out.

I spent a lot of time crocheting; sometimes using the heavy thread and making up my own patterns as I went along. I also crocheted some tiny doilies out of white sewing thread for my Mom, she put them in her china closet; they were very dainty.

My doctor (Dr. David F. Dye) saw that we knew nothing about babies - so he sent us to the drug store with a prescription that was marked paid (by him), and it was for a book on child raising by Dr. Benjamin Spock. I read it from cover to cover, memorized all of it and always referred back to it, for everything. Dr. Dye also paid for a months supply of diaper service - which I really needed.

I was due on June 12th and expected to go right on schedule, I didn't know any better. The membrane ruptured on June 3, 1957, early in the morning. Joe took me to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tacoma - then he went home to wait for the news. We had one suitcase with us that contained my things and the baby things, including the sweater and hat set that I had knitted.

I was very timid, very sheltered all my life, had not experienced much and was afraid of nearly everything. When I had to begin seeing the doctor when first pregnant, I shook like a leaf (or like a "little bird", as the doctor said.) And, I had not ever been in a hospital before - being born at home and having my tonsils out at home and not even seeing a doctor for 14 years (I had x-rays once, found a chipped elbow, when I was young). So, this experience was very traumatic for me.

I was to have Caudal (a spinal used on the West Coast), for the delivery. I rolled up in a ball (or as close to that as you can, when you already have a "basketball" where your tummy should be), so the anaesthetist could slide the needle between bones in my spine, into spinal cord.

As soon as anaesthetic began to go into my body, I began to get dizzy - the room began to spin, and then everything got black. I was out...I remember the room spinning again and seeing a lot of Nuns on their knees all around my bed, into the hall and down the corridor; they were praying for me and the baby. They got up and left - I saw the anaesthetist take a blood pressure cuff off my arm. He told me that I was having an allergic reaction to the medication and they would have to use something else. I wanted to be awake when my baby was born, so they had decided on the Caudal.

I also wanted to nurse my baby. Nobody back in Boston ever did anything like that, but I knew it was the best thing for my baby and wanted that.

I was awake in my room and then in the delivery room. They had a large, round mirror behind the doctor - pointed so I could see what was happening. They said, "I see the feet" - so, I looked, and it was bloody and I didn't know how much longer I could look. Then they said, "Something's wrong, turn the mirror away". I didn't think too much about it, because this was all new to me and I figured they were in charge.

They had called Joe and said he was the father of a baby daughter weighing 7 pounds and 3 ounces, 19 1/2 inches long, born at 6:21 p.m. on June 3, 1957 (a Monday). When he hung up the phone, it began to sink into him - and then he was off to the hospital. In those days, nobody stayed with their wife through delivery. We had asked, but it wasn't allowed, back in those days.

I woke up when Joe came in the room and he told me that we had a daughter. Somebody told us later that she was born feet first, that she had club feet, but that they could be corrected, she was beautiful. We didn't know much about anything, so just accepted what came. We were both good, practicing Catholics, we went to Church regularly and to confession, we prayed a lot and we had a lot of our prayers answered. We believed God for everything.

When Rose Marie was 3 days old, they put her feet in plaster casts - with them turned into the correct position. We didn't mind a baby with big, heavy plaster casts, she was beautiful. I had been after Joe to remember to bring the camera for 3 days and finally he brought it; we got her first picture with the casts on - the nurse covered them with her blanket, so they didn't show.

They brought Rose Marie to me right away to nurse. The woman from Texas, who was in the bed next to me, was also nursing - she didn't have any trouble at all. It seemed like my milk didn't come out at all, my breasts got bigger and bigger. I had to stay in bed for 3 days after Rose was born - I was very weak and had a lot of stitches. I didn't think much about it, figured this was all part of the normal delivery.

Dr. Dye told me that his first breech birth had expired so he didn't take any chances and had called in Dr. Bass to work with him for this delivery. I was very thankful for that. There had been a lot of stitches and I couldn't sit down for over 6 weeks. I thought this was pretty normal, too. When I began walking up and down the halls, to get my strength back, I thought it was normal to be so weak and almost passing out - so, I kept going. I didn't notice too much that the girl in the bed next to me was doing so much better than I was.

We went home 7 days later - I was still very weak, but Joe had time off and helped me. My breasts became caked and so hard. Rose Marie must have got some milk because she was pretty good. Finally, I couldn't take it any longer and called the doctor. He told me to put a towel wrapped around me real tight, fasten it with two safety pins and to leave it on all the time - for a couple of weeks, to dry up the milk; not to eat any chocolate, very little milk - and it would eventually dry up. Then he said how to make formula. Rose was always very colicky on formula and we tried many different kinds.

The diaper service, Dr. Dye had given to us, really helped a lot, because I wasn't well enough to wash diapers. Rose had a real bad diaper rash and I would leave her uncovered on the couch to air-out, as the Dr. Spock book said.

Being so far from friends and relatives, in the military, we were allowed to have proxy godparents, when it came time to have Rose baptized. Two young people from the Air Force Base filled-in. I don't remember who the real godparents were; probably our Best Man (Joe's cousin Ronnie Donelle), and his wife Betty (Cote).

By now the added room was finished - and our landlord had died. He was getting more tired all the time, sat in the sun a lot; the landlady called for Joe to come and help her; Henry had collapsed and Joe carried him into the house. They had given us their dog Cheeko, a long-haired chihuahua because Henry wasn't up to taking care of him. Now, he had died.

One time the old couple had taken me, still pregnant, out to visit their daughter and we drove by a tent where A.A. Allen (a faith healer), was preaching. They were all excited about hearing him - but I didn't want to, as I was Catholic and we didn't do things like that.

My Mom and half brother Bob flew out to see us. We gave them our room and slept on the couch/bed. Rose slept in a carriage that we had bought, next to us. They stayed for about a week. This was Mom and Bob's first time to fly. Mom tried to help us out with groceries, but I had too much pride and wouldn't let her get anything. I said that we would have to live on whatever Joe could provide. She humored me, as she had to so many times - or maybe it was that she respected my wishes.

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Pen Name: Aimee Love



WA State - ($300) our first car!