Darwin Street Again 1962
When I returned to Darwin Street I was bereft of plans and dear friends. The friends I had made in high school were not as near to me as Nancy Jeppsen and Mary Martineau who seemed more like soul mates than mere friends. I started looking for a job. I had improved my typing abilities slightly by taking a few business courses at the LDS Business College one summer while I was in high school, but I knew that my abilities were far from expert. I didn't go to an employment office, but just followed some possibilities. Someone had mentioned that Beneficial Life might have an opening so it was one of the first places I looked.
I asked for the personnel manager and he said they didn't have any openings but they would give me their employment test and keep my name on record. It turned out to be a fairly standardized test with only a few questions related to business, most of which I knew because of an accounting course I had taken at LDS. When I was finished with the test I handed it to him to score and waited to fill out a potential employee application for their files. He reviewed my answer sheet then excused himself. A few minutes later he returned and offered me a job. I had made the highest score on the employment test that anyone had ever before achieved. Therefore, they couldn't afford to pass me up.
My excellent scores got me a job, but it was one that anyone could have easily filled. I was responsible for cutting open envelopes, sorting the contents, and sending them along to the cashiers who would credit the checks and send the inquiries that might be found inside the envelopes on to other people. There were some variations to my incredibly simple routine. Sometimes I was sent up to the computer floor to retrieve calculations for the cashiers. Sometimes I filled in as a typist when the mail was slow. There were two of us handling the opening of mail. A woman worked as the supervisor of the various clerks and typists. Early in my employment I learned that she was supporting her husband through medical school. Not long after I started working she announced to everyone that she was
pregnant and really happy.
The next day she was absent. When the weekend ended she returned to work looking sallow and unhappy. When someone asked her about her pregnancy she denied that she had ever told anyone she was pregnant. Gossip whispered that her fledgling MD had demanded that she must have an abortion. In any case, from that point on she was a difficult and demanding supervisor, eager to find fault.
I had quickly discovered that I could improve my speed and accuracy by making a small change in the routine I had been taught. It was a simple matter of holding the materials a little differently, making the process more efficient. One day the supervisor stopped at my desk and watched me. Then she raised her voice and started to berate me. "What do you think you are doing? That's not what you were taught to do."
"I found a way to do the job a little better," I explained.
"You'll do it the way I showed you or I'll tell the boss," she threatened me.
I didn't argue but she told the boss anyway. It was the same man who had hired me and he seemed tired when he asked me into his cubicle to speak to me. He explained that the woman supervising me was going through a tough time and everyone was trying to avoid disturbing her. I understood and assured him I would try to avoid anything that might ruffle her emotions.
Meanwhile I received a call from Richard Chiu. He told me he had moved into an apartment on the Avenues and just wanted to call and see how I was doing. We chatted for a couple of minutes and I didn't think I would hear from him again. He called me back the next day and suggested that we get together. Later he told me that his first call had been a mere matter of slight loneliness. He hadn't expected to date me, but something about the sound of my voice on the phone had made him
change his mind. I wondered if he had the same premonitory reaction that had affected me when I first heard his voice months before.
Although never impolite to his face, my mother was distraught when I began to date Richard. "That's just what we wanted to protect you from when we insisted on bringing you back from Provo."
She insisted that I visit with her cousin, Sterling Sill. As a member of the Assistants to the Twelve, he was a general authority in the LDS church and I guess she felt his opinion would carry a lot of weight with both of us. We agreed to meet with him and he talked to us for some time. His major point of why we should end our blossoming relationship seemed rather shallow. He and his wife had adopted a daughter of mixed parentage and she had had a lot of difficulties. He looked at me and asked. "I know you think you love this young man, but how will you feel when your children have black hair and Chinese eyes?"
He couldn't know that years before I had seen two oriental toddlers while our family was visiting the Lagoon Amusement Park. I had never seen such lovely children. Their ivory skin framed with silky black hair made a perfect setting for rosebud lips and shining almond eyes. Seeing them, I knew that I was likely doomed to have pallid pastel children like those of my near relatives. Sterling Sill's remarks recalled my early experience and I smiled.
Richard and I had a rapid courtship. When we visited friends in Provo for a weekend, he staying with his old roommates and I with my friends in the dorm, he gave me his Phi Kappa Phi pin. We started thinking about engagement rings. I knew how much I liked working with my hands, cooking and working with paints and clay and I wanted nothing more than a simple gold band, but Richard selected a beautiful ring with an impressive center diamond surrounded with swirls of smaller diamonds set in white gold. My friends at work were suitably impressed. I didn't tell them that one of the first things I planned to do after I married was to quit my job and start back to school. We rented an apartment on the third floor of an old apartment house at the head of Main Street and shopped for furnishings.
Richard had seen ads for furniture that promised a suite of rooms could be purchased for under $200 and he thought that sounded good. I didn't want to furnish our first home with cardboard and cheap plastic so I took him to one of the most exclusive furniture stores in town. I hadn't intended for us to purchase our furniture there, but I wanted him to see quality before he settled for the cheapest selection. As it turned out, the select furniture store was having an excellent sale, with prices cut more than %50 on many items. After looking through the store, we stopped by the store that advertised a suite of rooms for less than $200.00. Richard quickly made his decision when he saw the shoddy beds and dressers. We returned to the other store and purchased our bedroom furniture, carpet and couch. We found a combination Stereo, TV that matched the Danish Modern style of our couch at an appliance store An elegant old dining table and chairs came to less than $50.00 at a second hand store. I learned that Richard wasn't necessarily cheap. He loves a good deal.
A wedding involved many things including a reception. Our wedding reception was planned for the front room of parents' home and when I asked for invitations to be sent to some friends I had made over the years, my mother insisted that the reception was for her. She invited a lot of her relatives and friends. She said it was important that my unusual marriage be given the best face possible. If we had only invited my cousins the house would have been crowded since my mother had thirty-six brothers and sisters due to her father's polygamous marriages. I was able to wear the wedding gown my Aunt Emma had made for my cousin Marlene. We had professional pictures taken at the ZCMI photography studio and afterwards they asked if they could use a larger print of the picture to use as an advertising display. Later they mailed it to us for no extra charge.
Richard had some vacation time accumulated and we discovered that our marriage would be illegal in the state of Utah. So-called 'Ochre Laws' which had been initiated to prevent marriages between Philippinos and whites, would prevent our marrying in any of the western states with Mormon temples. The sole exception, and that only recently, was California. Richard would receive his Master Degree in Engineering from the Y in late May. We decided to drive to California and stay with my cousin and her family until we could obtain a license and get married. My brother was then stationed at Camp Pendleton between LA and San Diego. We would pick him up and take him to Salt Lake.
We acted the part of tourists for several days while we applied for a marriage license and discovered that I would need to present my birth certificate as proof that I was old enough to be married without permission from my parents. To my relief, my mother quickly sent my birth certificate. While we waited we visited Marineland of the Pacific and LA China town and drove down to San Diego to see the famous zoo. We walked along the beach and enjoyed ourselves in my cousin's swimming pool, but both of us were worried that the press of time would defeat us.
The morning we were supposed to get married we set out for the temple and had an accident in rush hour traffic. Richard's Thunderbird was heavy and had chromed steel rings around the tail-lights. The other driver had taken all the damage. We pulled off the freeway and called the police to report the accident, but there was no call from the person we had hit and the police told us not to be concerned.
The time for our appointment at the temple had passed. In two days the reception at my parents' house would take place. The next morning we woke up in our separate rooms with a sense of urgency that put us on the road by 3 AM. We wouldn't be caught in rush hour traffic for sure, but both of us were exhausted and we fell asleep in the parking lot while we waited for the temple to open. Fortunately we woke barely in time and on May 23, a little over five months after we had started to date, I married Richard Chiu in the Los Angeles Temple. The sealer was my mother's cousin, but at that time we had no idea of the relationship. With no attendants and a skipped appointment, there was a hunt for witnesses.
As soon as we left the temple we returned to my cousin's house where my brother was waiting. We set out for Salt Lake, knowing that we had less than a day to drive the old highway between LA and Salt Lake. At that time the road was two lanes wide for most of the distance between the two cities and every time we came to a town the diagonal highway would take a right angle getting through the small towns which were laid out on the Mormon plan between San Bernardino and Salt Lake. Late that night my brother nearly brought us all to grief when he roared into a small town without realizing it and proceeded down a ranch trail at ninety miles an hour. It was nearly mid-day when we drove into the yard at Darwin Street and let him out. Then we headed over to Main Street and our apartment.