Wednesday, October 14, 2015

After the Honeymoon (Part 2)

Judy and I set up housekeeping and started to think about money.  Our plan (such as it was) was simple.  I'd taken my pay for teaching at Corsicana High School over 12 months instead of 9, so I'd be getting a check for each of the summer months.  In September, I'd be a teaching assistant and North Texas State University (as it was called in those days), so I'd be getting paid.  But not much.  I've forgotten what the salary was, but it was a pittance.  Our plan was for Judy to get a job to take up the slack.  She was a graduate of Baylor University with a business degree (in economics).  How hard could it be to find a job?

Pretty hard, as it turned out.  Once again we looked in the newspaper's classified ads.  You might not be surprised to learn that there weren't a lot of job openings for young college-educated women.  It surprised us, anyway, but it shouldn't have.  Denton at that time was still a small town with very little industry and very few job opportunities.  However, we did find learn that a new company was going to relocate to Denton from California, and there were job openings.  Judy called up and got an interview.  Here's another surprise.  The interviewer wanted to talk to both of us.  To this day I have no idea why.  So we went to the interview together.

Surprise number three was that the only job openings for a young woman of any education at all was as a secretary.  Judy could type and file and do anything they needed.  The interviewer seemed a little embarrassed that it was the best he could offer.  We didn't see the possibility of her getting a better job, and we were going to be in town for only a year, so she accepted.  It turned out that until the rest of the employees moved to town, the man who interviewed her (or us) was going to be her boss, and that was fine with us.  We both liked him, and things went well for several months.

Then the rest of the employees came to Denton and Judy and her boss moved out to the big new building on the edge of town.  That's then things started to go downhill.  The main problem was that everybody who came from California to Denton hated the place.  They thought they'd been transferred from Paradise to Hell.  It was a toxic workplace before that term was invented.

Things were going okay for Judy, though.  She was great at her job, and her boss was going to move her up to a position with more responsibility.  I can't remember what it was, but she'd be more than a secretary.  It didn't happen, however.  The California contingent decided that a man needed to be put into that job, so they hired someone else and left Judy where she was.  All I remember is that the man's name was Doug and that Judy thought he was more or less incompetent.  She wound up doing most of his work along with hers, and after the first week she never referred to him by his actual name again.  Instead of "Doug," she always called him "that Doug."  You'll just have to imagine the thin edge of contempt that outlined the words.

By that time we still had about six months to live in Denton, and although six months seemed like a long time at our age then, Judy decided that she could stick it out.  The pay wasn't bad, and since the plant was so close to our apartment, she could drive home for lunch.  I'd leave the Auditorium Building, where the English Department was housed, and walk the two blocks to home so we could eat together.  

Often I'd stop at Griff's Burger Bar on the way to the apartment and pick up two of the 15 cent hamburgers Some days they'd have a special, and I could get two burgers for a quarter.  We'd eat burgers and watch TV on our little B&W 19-inch set.  Let's Make a Deal came on at 12:30, and that was a staple of our TV viewing.  After the Big Deal of the Day, Judy would go back to work, and I'd grade papers or do my reading or write a paper or work on my thesis.  I'm sure I did a lot schoolwork, but the one thing I remember doing most was translating old English.  That was tough.   Sometimes I'd do the washing or clean up the apartment.  Or, on a good day, I'd walk downtown to the Fultz Newsstand and buy a paperback book or two or three.  The photo is of me in a typical pose.

And that's how our first year went.  After I finished my thesis in the summer of 1966, it was time to move to Austin.

15 comments:

Max Allan Collins said...

Wonderful phrase -- "thin edge of contempt."

I wish I had your memory. Actually, I wish I had my memory, since mine seems M.I.A.

Deb said...

I think all of us have a "that Doug" in our work history--unless you've been very lucky (or, possibly, YOU are "that Doug").

Deb said...

Also, I worked for a company that had a reverse situation: a contingent relocated from Kansas to Southern California. They thought they'd been consigned to Hell...but possibly that was just sticker shock at the housing prices.

Richard R. said...

Wonderful, I hope we get to see another of these every coup,e of weeks!

Deb, because Kansas winters are so nice compared to SoCal, right?

I'm not sure I remember what memory is.........

Jerry House said...

"That Doug" changed his name several times and each time Kitty worked for him. One super-incompetent "That Doug" had a habit of stealing lunches from female workers. The Sixties and Seventies were a very hard time to be a woman in the workforce.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Where is part one?

Bill Crider said...

Here it is.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Another good one. 15 cent burgers was a good touch.

Jeff

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Another good one. 15 cent burgers was a good touch.

Jeff

Don Coffin said...

Beautiful memories...reminding me of my own time in grad school and the kind of jobs that were available for grad-student-spouses there...let me tell you that my wife's experience of working in a fast food place there soured her on fast-food forever...Our big monthly night out was the $5 pizza at the Pizza King followed by the $1 movie at the theater in the same strip mall...I mostly remember seeing "Fantasia" in a theater filled with students whose consciousness had been somewhat altered by the killer weed--and, since smoking in theaters was still allowed in the early 1970s, we also had our perceptions adjusted...

James Reasoner said...

Another great story. You walked from Normal Street all the way to the square to go to Fultz's? That's a long walk! I always drove downtown from the campus. What a great place Fultz's was, though.

Cap'n Bob said...

I like your memories better than mine.

Bill Crider said...

It was a long walk, all right, James, but well worth it.

Gerard said...

Thanks. These are neat to read.

Todd Mason said...

Thank goodness we have all this proud hostility toward the feminist movement among the other civil rights movements...what at all was wrong with the situations in the good old days?

Of course, most of the most important That Dougs these days are in the uppermost management of industry, handing each other bonuses and options. Though Alice still finds more than her share of That Doctor Dougs in her medical adventures. Thank goodness we still have it mostly in the hands of the insurance companies who've made medicine the helpful and well-oiled machine that it has been in the last thirty or so years.