Once upon a time, many years ago, my husband and I moved into our first home in a pretty upscale suburb in Chicago. An old boyfriend from Northwestern had grown up there, and somehow or other I had been favorably impressed with his description. Plus it was adjacent to where I had been born and raised: Chicago, and not far from Oak Park, my husband's home town. After two years at Northwestern, I transferred to the University of Illinois, where I met the love of my life, on a blind date that was arranged my very first day on campus.The date was my husband of almost 59 years, John. Love struck like a thunderbolt. When we were separated after my husband's graduation, both missed each other terribly. (And we have lots of love letters to illustrate!)
My husband and I were young when we married in the spring of 1952. He was 22 and I had not yet turned 21 when I became pregnant with my first born daughter, Pat. For the first three years we lived in apartment buildings, and it was with great anticipation when, with my parents help, we purchased our first home. I was then pregnant with our second child, Susan, and my head was filled with sugarplum visions of living the American Dream. I was kind of walking on air when I stepped into THE small but upscale department store located in the center of our pretty new town. It had an attractive interior with eye catching displays of obviously high end clothing lines, and the saleswoman behind the glass counter was perfectly coiffed and quietly but elegantly attired. There was no one else in the store and it was as hushed in silence as a library. I studied the sales woman with some care and wondered if I would someday fit into this suburban milieu as smoothly as she. Eager to see their maternity line and happy to tell the world of my pregnancy, I started into a conversation. "Where", I asked, "Do you keep your maternity clothes?"
I kid you not when I tell you there was a very long pause before she answered. "Maternity clothes", she sniffed, "WE do not carry maternity clothes!"
In order to understand my hurt feelings and the reality of this scene, you have to remember this was the 1950's. Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke could not be viewed together on the same bed unless one of them had one foot on the floor, and they were married parents! Married or not, anything relating to the physicality of sex caused a lot of eyebrow raising among "proper society", Of course, this didn't include everyone, but it did include more than a few. Maybe this woman was truly offended. But actually, I think this bluenose was having her little fun at my expense. Whatever the case, it was time for me to realize that the pretty suburbs didn't always house pretty people. I had a lot to learn!