Toledo Park, Maryland 1969-1970
In the many moves I have made, I have returned to the same home several times. I returned to the farm in Lehi once, to Arnold Lane twice, and I have returned to California, Utah, and Virginia each several times, but I only lived in Maryland once. We had rented our house in Arlington when we moved to Utah. When we returned to the DC area less than a year later, the lease was still active and Richard's work place had moved its offices to Maryland. We found an apartment nearby in Hyattsville. We lived there for less than a year before purchasing a home in Falls Church, Virginia.
David would turn five in December, and in Maryland that meant he was old enough to attend Kindergarten. I contacted the school and enrolled Meg and David. Busing was in order because of court decisions about integration and to even out the racial makeup of schools in the area some extreme measures were employed. The school our children would attend was several miles away from the apartment complex where we lived. Meg made friends with a girl named Miriam who lived upstairs from us and David became friends with a boy named Peter who lived just across the hallway. I made friends with Peter's mother Margaret. She had a little girl about 2 years old named Kelly and her husband, Dewey was preparing to move his family to Talkeetna, Alaska as soon as their homes were erected in an industrial compound erected by the firm of defense contractors for whom he worked .
Margaret and I both knew that we wouldn't be around each other for very long. She was a Protestant who had difficulty quitting smoking. I am a Mormon who doesn't like being around smokers, but in that time and place, we became best friends. We were both large blonde women, but somehow the fact that Margaret was at least fifty pounds heavier than I inspired me to be a more successful dieter. I had gained a lot of weight when Katie died, eating my sorrow, and although I lost some weight when I was pregnant with Nancy, it soon returned while I was nursing.
Margaret and I shopped together in the nearby mall and talked about a lot of things. She had lived a dramatic and somewhat tragic life until she was a young woman. Her mother had died when she was small and she and her sister had been subjected to cruel treatment from a stepmother who fed them a barely subsistence diet of sardines and soda crackers while her own children were well fed. Her father, a traveling representative of some kind, questioned his wife about the difference in her thriving children and his skinny daughters when he was home, but she dismissed his worries and assured him that his girls were naturally slim. Finally, after several years of near starvation, the father surprised the woman who had nearly killed his children with deprivation by coming home unexpected. He took his daughters away and divorced her, but she was able to lie her way to a punitive settlement. Margaret became a fat woman, and her sister a depressed and eventually successful suicide as a result of the step-mother's cruelty. On the other hand, Margaret was able to view what had happened to her without whining. She told me about it once, when trying to explain why she felt so compelled to eat. Otherwise, she was pleasant company, intelligent and fun to talk with. One aspect of the behavior of Margaret and Dewey was a devotion to security. Although we lived across the hall from each other, she never came to visit without locking her door. Even a quick trip to the laundry room which was situated between our apartments caused her to carefully secure her apartment. In keeping with their attitude, they kept a loaded gun on top of their tall dining cabinet, handy to repel invading burglars, but out of reach of their small children.
One holiday weekend they took a trip and told me they would be back sometime on Monday. Early Monday morning I noticed that their door was ajar. I was surprised since they never left it even slightly open. I knocked on the door and called Margaret's name. A man came to the door and asked me what I wanted. I said I was looking for Margaret and he said she wasn't there. I quickly returned to my apartment and called the police. When they arrived the door of the apartment was wide open, the valuables stacked and ready to be removed. When Margaret and Dewey returned and made an inventory of their property they found that only one thing had been removed; the loaded gun.
One day I was in the car with my husband parked near the church. He asked me where my purse was before he started the engine and began to drive. It was a small purse, hardly more than a wallet, and with several children in the car and a baby on my lap (in the days before mandatory infant restraint seats and seat belts), I wasn't quite sure where it was, although I assumed it was probably near my feet on the floor. When I told him I wasn't sure where my purse was, he started to scream obscenities. Several people walking nearby turned to look at us. He had gradually begun to swear more and more in private over the previous several years, and I was embarrassed to hear him let loose in public. I reached down and found my small, cloth purse and brought it up to show him I had it, but he continued his tirade. Impulsively, I put it over his mouth to stop him from cursing.
He lashed out and hit me very hard in my face. The kids were crying and I felt devastated. My mother had told me long ago that I shouldn't expect to go home if my marriage was difficult. I felt like I had no recourse. I felt that if my parents refused to help me, it was unlikely that other relatives would help. There were no women's shelters or abuse hot-lines in those days. It was generally assumed that men who beat their wives and girlfriends were either drunks, or the women deserved what they got.
The bruise on my face bloomed purple and blue, encircling my eye. I had duties to perform at church and in the PTA at school, so I became very artful with makeup. I had very little swelling, so I applied foundation to hide the discoloration as much as I could, and I painted my eye on the other side to match what color I couldn't completely conceal. Ironically, the result was rather attractive. Several people commented on how much they liked my makeup. Perhaps they wondered why I abandoned the colorful scheme within a few weeks when my bruises faded.
One day I visited Richard at his office. He showed me the computer that filled the entire floor of the building. He often had to get up late at night and make sure the programs he was running hadn't run into a loop and started wasting time and energy. Banks of air-conditioners kept the machines cool. I now have a phone/PDA that is several times as powerful and much faster than that computer.
My activities in church included writing and directing a Christmas Pageant for the Primary to perform in Sacrament Meeting. Meg had outgrown a coat that my mother had made from leopard print faux fur and I cut it up and used it as part of the costumes for the 'Lamanites'. Tinsel and sheets for angels, striped towels and tablecloths and sections of cotton ropes donated by parents for shepherds robes and a cone of tin foil around a high intensity lamp for a spotlight were some of the elements that went into a successful production. I also taught the Blazer aged boys in Primary, a calling I often served in over the years.
At Christmas I dressed Meg's doll from the year before in glamorous new clothes, turning Alice in Wonderland into someone somewhat more sophisticated in an evening gown of gold lame. David received the GI Joe Astronaut with Space Capsule that he had coveted. Nancy, only a few months into her second year, was content with a few baby toys.
I was nearly three months pregnant at Christmas and I had begun to visit an obstetrical practice near our apartment. When I made my first visit I gave the doctor a note that outlined some of my preferences, including my expectation that I would have an un-medicated delivery. He took exception to what I had written and gruffly asked me if I suspected him of incompetence. I assured him I was merely letting him know things I had gathered after having four previous children in four different locations with four doctors. He granted that I had a point. One day Richard came home and announced that his offices would be moving back to Virginia in a few months time. We had sold our tiny house in Arlington when the renters moved and he began to look for property. Perhaps the best choice was a nice home on several acres in Great Falls. The house didn't require renovation and the property was full of development potential. I was hoping he would decide to purchase it. Then he impulsively made what he knew was a ridiculously low bid on a small home in Falls Church. Much to his surprise, and my regret, the bid was accepted. The house was owned by a group of brothers who purchased lands and homes as a consortium. They worked as educators and ran nurseries on the properties until the land increased in value. The brother who accepted Richard's low bid on the rental home he was selling was excoriated by his older brother for the deal when we met at the lawyer's office to sign the closing papers. I really wished we had purchased the other house, but the contract had been signed and we prepared to move.