My bother Raymond finished high school a year after I did and immediately came to Ft. Wayne where he took a business course in a building near Calhoun Street downtown, studying bookkeeping, typing, shorthand, business arithmetic, business English, etc. He was still going to class when he got a job in the offices of the Bowser Pump Company on the east side of town. Bowser was the largest of two or three firms manufacturing gasoline pumps for the gasoline stations beginning to spring up all over the country. Tokheim was one of the others. He didn't room with me; I already had a roommate and it would have been too far to his work; but he would come out and pound out jazz on the piano or I would meet him someplace downtown. To save money he got a job working in a Greek restaurant for his meals. It also gave him a chance to pick up modern Greek. He became much interested in languages and took every chance he could get to meet representatives of foreign firms who came to shop for gasoline pumps at Bowser's. The company found it was good public relations to have a young man who was able to greet customers from South America, Arabia or even the Far East and say a few worlds to them in their own language so they soon put him in foreign sales. He worked himself up rapidly and was eventually made president of the Bowser Export Company and sent to London.
Raymond met a cute girl by the name of Leeta Dixon at the business school who was studying shorthand and typing. When she finished her course she also got a job at Bowser's. Leeta was living with an older sister by the name of Lucy who was married to some sort of gambler or saloon keeper. I think Leeta's parents were dead and Lucy had taken care of her but am not certain. They were very close at any rate. Lucy was a very lively, fun-loving and generous person, about 30 or 35 at the time, I would judge, a very good-looking woman, and I often wondered why she had married the type of man she had. I never pried into her affairs or asked her questions about her life when she was young but I think she must have married before she left high school. Her speech indicated a lack of education tho she was very intelligent.
My roommate, Leonard Erickson, was a religious fanatic, a fundamentalist who believed every work of the Bible, while I had begun to question such tales as the story of Jonah and the whale and Joshua commanding the sun to stand still. He spent his spare time reading the Bible and going to church. We were good friends but not intimate friends; we didn't pal around together. So Saturday and Sunday evenings I would often meet Raymond at Lucy's and the four of us would play cards, usually bridge. I had never played cards before as my father considered it wicked tho we had decks of flinch and authors. Lucy new bridge and a half-dozen other games like the back of her hand. I think she must have done considerable gambling herself. Sometimes a girl by the name of Peggy, who had a room at Lucy's, would take Lucy's place at the card table while Lucy went to the kitchen for snacks.
Peggy was small, about my age, perhaps two or three years older, and quite pretty. She was often depressed because of a spat with her boyfriend. I dated her just once and Lucy had to urge her to go out with me as she was afraid her friend would find out. I took her to a basketball game, the famous Ft. Wayne Knights of Columbus team against an all-star team of college players. Lucy thought it would do her good to go out with someone else and it probably did as she was more cheerful when we came home on the streetcar.
Lucy enjoyed dancing and, since her husband never took her anyplace, she taught me to dance and I became her escort. I felt a little awkward the first time I went out on the dance floor at the Elks Club but it wasn't long until I was a smooth of not expert dancer. My figure skating and sense of rhythm helped me a lot. I never was interested enough to try to learn the different dance steps; I just kept time to the music, 1-2, 1-2 for foxtrots and 1-2-3, 1-2-3 for waltzes. Leeta and Raymond came along of course. I don't recall that I ever danced with anybody except Lucy and Leeta while I was in Ft. Wayne.
Last modified on 14 June 2009 @ 10:09