Go to Publications CollectionGo to Graphics CollectionsGo to Commentary Collectionsrelative Go to Concerning the PotterverseGo to The Potterverse UNhallowedhen

A Marrying Man:

Dad and Ida married, some four years after Dad retired. This was at least partially brought about by certain actions of my own.

Not to say that I was engaged in matchmaking, mind you. After the first particularly dippy dame that he had dated, early on in his widowhood I wasn’t touching that subject with a 10-foot pole.

However, as a new employee of the City of Los Angeles, I was required to establish and maintain a residence within the city limits — a requirement which was soon to be struck down as unconstitutional, although I didn’t know to expect that — and at a messenger clerk’s meager $250 a month (take home, not gross, gross was something like $355), I could hardly be expected to maintain one and not use it, even had I wished to.

Needless to say, given that the alternative was living with my father, I didn’t wish to.

The Social Security Board’s Aid to Education had quite literally paid me to go on living with my father for the last two years that I was in school. Those checks ($60 a month) would have ceased with either graduation or my 22nd birthday, both of which had happened to coincide the previous August. So, while I obviously can’t say that you couldn’t have paid me to go on living with my Dad, it would definitely have required payment.

My only regret was that $250 a month doesn’t go very far when rent comes to $100, a bus pass is $10 and the phone is maybe another $7-12. I could just about manage, but if I’d had a dollar for every day at the end of a pay period which saw me making dry biscuits for dinner and finishing up the cold biscuits for breakfast and lunch the next day, until I ran out of one or other of the ingredients needed to make biscuits, I would have been eating somewhat better than that. Canned soup at the very least.

I wasn’t in debt anyway, and was even managing to put something aside. Which wasn’t too bad for someone who had never had any money of my own until the Social Security Board started paying me to live with my father. Or, more accurately, started paying a widowed retiree a stipend to be put toward a child’s college education. (Ma had also paid into Social Security, but didn’t live to draw a pension.)

Of course, I wasn’t trying to run a car, either. It was the Blue Lemon which cooked my goose as far as financial solvency seems to have gone. Once I had that albatross around my neck, I never managed to save more than a few hundred at any time until I was nearing 60, even though the Blue Lemon has been only an irritating and gradually fading memory for more than 20 years by then.

In any event, I was hired by the City of Los Angeles in April, told of the residency requirement and informed that I had 18 months in which to comply. It took me until August to scrape the money together for a deposit, but by then I could manage one. Dad at least hadn’t been charging me for room and board. Which Ma very likely would have done. Dad was rather more generous than Ma.

So, I took a Saturday and went apartment hunting. Basically in the general area that I’ve lived in ever since. I needed to be near a reasonably efficient bus line. Which generally speaking, meant the inner city. There were still several comfortable working-class neighborhoods within the general range of the inner core of the bus system at that time. I found three about affordable possibilities to chose from, and informed Dad that I was moving out.

“Oh.” He said.

“I guess I’ll have to marry Ida.” He said.

He also said that he’d let me have some furniture, but he reneged when I rented a furnished studio single. When he and Ida married, a few months after I moved out, he sold the house in Monterey Park and put the takings into her apartment house in Inglewood. Whatever furniture he didn’t want himself, he either sold or gave away without letting me know about it. So I haven’t anything from the house I grew up in apart from some kitchen widgets, and either don’t know or can’t remember what happened to the one or two pieces which had survived Ma’s purge of ’53 and which I had actually wanted. (Dad didn’t keep any of them himself)

They didn’t make any big fuss about their wedding. I gather they just got their doctors’ certificates, and went downtown to the registry office for a marriage certificate, and had the knot tied by a judge at the Hall of Administration, a block or two away from where I was working at City Hall.

(And they still didn’t invite me.)