Note: The entries with the funky computer graphics are reflections upon the early influences of my life as an artist.
After perhaps two weeks of living in my parent's neighbor's upstairs I worked up enough nerve to walk across the driveway and ask mother if I could borrow her car. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in late June and I wanted to go across town to visit my friends. It would be my first taste of freedom.
I'd been in hiding for 7 months.
When I discovered I was pregnant I went to see my boss. She called my mother and we had a meeting to discern what was to become of me. Mrs. McQuaide offered to send me to Mexico for a weekend. She suggested that when I came home I could resume my life "as if nothing had happened". In 1968 abortions were rumored to be performed by unscrupulous doctors in back alleys using clothes hangers.
I said, "No. I didn't do anything wrong and I don't deserve to be punished."
With this one option rejected it came to be my mother's turn to figure out what to do with me.
I was driven downtown to Catholic Charities to be admitted to their home for unwed mothers. A case worker gave us a tour of the dingy and guilt ridden rooms. Back in her office she slid the necessary paperwork across her desk and handed me a pen. I said, "No. I didn't do anything wrong and I don't deserve to be punished. "
She went to a higher authority. A Catholic Charity supervisor brought me into her office and gave me a talking to. She made a series of tense phone calls. Clearly she didn't want to chance my walking away and having them lose a young white girl's baby.
Eventually she arranged for me to go and live with an elderly couple prominent in the Catholic community. They lived in a mansion that contained three full kitchens, 10 bedrooms/baths and an octagonal ballroom. The fulltime painter did touch-ups room to room. The Arch Bishop was a frequent dinner guest.
I moved into the beautiful upper floor (attic) and became part of the household staff albeit the only live-in at that time. Each day I was required to change uniform three times as I carried out a list of duties beginning at 7 am. and ending at 7 pm. I was allowed 12 hours off per week and was given $12.oo. I was not allowed outdoors. It was an exceptional prison.
Sometime into the pregnancy I was hospitalized and the doctor said that I needed two weeks of complete bed rest at which point I called Mrs. Carlin and was told that I couldn't return. She said "Who will take care of us?"
Mother, intent on keeping my situation a secret, spoke to the produce manager at the grocery store where she shopped and soon I relocated to a tiny bungalow just three miles away from my parents home and several doors down from Millie, a former co-worker at the dress shop, making it necessary for me to remain indoors at all times. I began caring for Mary's three children ages 2-7 and her mother who had been through a double mastectomy. Mary, at 33, had just been widowed. We were a sad but determined little troop.
I was eager for what I percieved to be a normal life. So I was very relieved that mother consented when I begged her to let me borrow her car.
I was looking forward to seeing my artist friend Sandy, plus the poet and musician friends who all shared a dorm house on the campus of Case Western Reserve University, within walking distance of the Cleveland Art Institute.
I hadn't seen Sandy and the many other occupants of the sprawling house (located across from the little park where they were playing touch football) in months.
I imagine I sang all the way across the river to the other side of town.