Allowing myself to be guided by my intuition is very satisfying to me. It's a little tricky when writing my autobiography because the content and where it shows up are not governed by time, that man-made concept we accept so everything isn't happening at once and crazy-making. As I've said on different occasions, I think linear thinking is vastly overrated! I never know what the next page will be about or if the reader is frustrated by my leaping from one time period to another without a segue. Oh, I guess this is my segue for this page. (smile)
This morning, I was putting photos I had scanned for this book back into their assigned places in some ancient photo albums. They have pre-plastic pages, and often when I disturb them, their protective coverings crumble and some pictures fall out. Today an 8 x 10 fell on the floor in my home office, picture side down. My intuition said when I turned that photo over, it would be the subject of my next page. Was I surprised when it was of me in February, 1956, in my Cinderella wedding gown on the day I married my handsome first husband, Hal Wilson. He was 22 and I was 20, the ages of most of our friends when they got married way back in the 1950s.
My Mom was 53 in this photo and before too long would be moving back to New York. Hal and I were married at the Church of the Little Flower in Hollywood, Florida. A few months later, we were on our way to Gainesville, so Hal could attended the University of Florida with the help of the G.I. Bill.
Hollywood is sub-tropical and was so different from the Brooklyn where I grew up. I missed my family and friends, but most of all I missed my Dad. I also missed the museums and art galleries and Broadway plays, but it didn't take long to fall in love with Hollywood. I marveled at how much of the landscape and night sky I could see at once without tall buildings blocking my view. I had never really seen the miracle of a sunset over the ocean until then. Even the houses were different, one-story pastel-colored houses surrounded by palm trees with coconuts on the ground for the taking. My first Florida Christmas, Mom took a picture of me wearing a bathing suit and heading for Hollywood Beach nearby. We sent it to our close relatives in New York who were knee deep in snow.
There was some culture shock, including my surprise when I saw people going to the grocery store wearing bathing suits and flip-flops, but I just couldn't do it. Like they say, You can take the girl out of New York, but you can't take New York out of the girl. Everything's so different now and it's about time there aren't as many repercussions for being your authentic self anymore.
Hollywood Beach was the entertainment for teenagers and the beach replaced the culture of New York that I missed. I adapted quickly and was accepted into the beach crowd of bronze sun worshipers that smelled of coconut sunscreen. We hadn't heard of the possibility of getting malignant melanoma in the future. My photo album starting having lots of photos in bathing suits and none in winter coats. Before long I made up my mind; I swore I'd never willingly live through a freezing New York winter again, and I never did.
This is one of my favorite pictures of me and Hal before we got married. It reminds me of a Mario Lanza song.
Golden days, in the sunshine of a happy youth
Golden days, full of gaiety and full of truth
In our hearts we remember them all else above
Golden days, days of youth and love
We were ready to go to the beach on a moment's notice, without a care in our beautiful, safe world. Marriage and children and the joys they would bring us, as well as the responsibilities, were still a couple of light years away. Life was simple and good.
We drove up to Gainesville to get settled in an apartment before Hal's classes started at UF. We almost didn't stay in Gainesville because we couldn't find an apartment we could afford. At the last minute, we found a spacious upstairs apartment in a big old house near downtown at 111 NW 2nd Avenue. The owner was Lillian, of Lillian's Music Hall fame, and she only charged $75 a month rent. I know that seems impossible to wrap your head around now, but it was 1956 and that's all we could afford.
I needed a job close enough to walk to. I got one in the Seagle Building, the tallest building in Gainesville at the time. I was hired as a receptionist on my first job interview. I was thankful I got a job so quickly because we needed the money, but I don't know why they hired me or why I took a job that I knew would make me uncomfortable. I was so shy back then. I was anxious every time the front door opened and I had to speak to someone I hadn't met before and try to answer questions about things I knew nothing about. Meanwhile, Hal often worked 3 part-time jobs and went to school full-time. Looking back, I don't know how he did it. Among his many virtues, he always was a hard worker and good provider. I had no doubt he would be a good father some day.
We wanted to start a family right away and were delighted when soon after our first anniversary we learned that I was pregnant.