Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Changes and Transitions

Ian died during the 1971 New Year’s weekend. The apartment building lost heating just after Christmas caused by the heavy snow and it was out for a week. The temperatures ending the year were in the low teens, the highs being 15 degrees. It began snowing on New Year’s Eve and continued well into the day of the First.
Iguanas are tropical beasts native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Ian caught a respiratory infection and although we gave him some medicine, terramycin it did no good. He died in my arms. He was nine years old and in captivity should have lived twice as long. Our little (5 foot-long) perfect apartment pet was gone. I sold an article by that title a few years later to “Animal Lover’s Magazine”

Lincoln Bank moved its operation center at the end of 1970 to a location in Center City. We were now on Sansom Street between 12th and 13th Streets. We had left behind the parking lot at 33rd and Cherry for a parking garage downtown; yes, we were in the basement beneath yet another and larger parking lot. We entered through a door between the garage and this brick building next door, going down a flight of stairs and through a door at the bottom. It reminded me of entering a speakeasy.
It was a roomier place and brighter inside than our old operation center. There were some offices down the side to the right of the entry door, then it L-ed into more open space. My desk was right at the angle of the L.
There was a technology firm that the bank contracted with to upgrade the bookkeeping system. Like at Atlantic with the conversion to Speedaumat, I got the assignment to work with this vendor and oversee the conversion. It was something new, a mag-card system. All the data would be entered on these strips about the size of an IBM card, but instead of punching holes the information was recorded as magnetized impulses that this machine could read, store and produce reports from. This was sort of a transition technology between the punch card and the desktop computer. It eliminated all our  manual bookkeeping journals and ledgers.
There was a hitch along the way. The vendor did the conversion and setup a demonstration run, but nothing balanced. The tech guys, who installed the system, were at a complete lose. I went in and did an examination and the answer was painfully simple. The installers had no understanding of accounting and had programmed the assets and liability entries to act in the same way; that is, in assets the debits add and the credits subtract from the total, in liability accounts this is the opposite. Their system programed debits to always add and credits to always subtract.
Once the system was corrected and installed, I was put in charge of it and promoted to Operations Accounting Supervisor.

In mid-January, I registered at Temple for the Spring semester. Registration this year didn’t bode well. As I wrote Joe Rubio:
I screwed up this year, though. I went up on Wednesday, the first day of registration, taking off from work and getting there at 3:00. You have to get there early or too many classes are filled. I had planned my courses from the bulletin and figured I’d just get the class cards and then come back Friday to finish out. Once you have class cards you’re safe. I was going to take Advanced Composition, Interpretation of English Fiction, Interpretation of English Drama and American History from Reconstruction to the Present.  Well, first off Advance Comp. wasn’t offered at all.  Then the two Interpretation courses were scheduled at the same time.  So I selected Shakespeare and Religion I as substitutes. I was then informed of an error and had to wait about until 6:30 to see an advisor, who sent me to the Assistant Dean.
More bad luck. According to the registrar I hadn’t attended since 1968. They seemed to have misplaced my records. She (the Assistant Dean) said they’d fix things up and okayed my roster, except for changing Shakespeare to a sociology course. It was now twenty to eight. I went back and the Soc and Religion classes were filled. So I am only taking two subjects.

Those two subjects were Interpretation of English Literature – Prose and U. S. History since Reconstruction. I got an A in the Literature course and a C in History, which was taught by the same Marxist professor I had for United States History I. As it was, this proved to be my last semester at Temple. When those courses ended I dropped out. I had 49 Credit Hours and a Grade Point Average of 2.95.  My Grade Point Average had been steadily rising when I dropped out. It would have been higher, but easier on I had withdrawn from French, but never went through the proper paperwork, so they gave me an F.

Sometime in this period I ran into Ronald Tipton on the
street during lunch break and we stopped to talk. It was cold and snow was turning dirty in the gutters. We had bumped into each other one or two other times downtown since we had our misunderstanding in 1963.
We were both working at banks at this time, I at Lincoln and he at Girard. He had continued exchanging Christmas Cards with my parents over the years and I believe he began this conversation mentioning getting a card and nice note from my mother. He suggested we get together for lunch and we set a date. We decided on the next Tuesday and would meet in the City Hall courtyard.
It snowed overnight into that Tuesday and I walked through the freshly white city on still not shoveled walks. The day was cold and gray. I waited in the courtyard and then saw Ronald wearing a long black coat over his tall, thin frame, approaching. We shook hands.
“You ever been to Day’s Deli?”  he asked. “They have great sandwiches.”
We strolled out to 18th Street and Spruce, where Day’s dominated the corner. You could easily enter from either street. (I tried my best to find a photo of Day's with no success. I believe the photo at the location today is the same building. Where it says cleaners was then a revolving door.)
 We pushed through revolving doors into a garden of fragrances, imported cheeses, spicy meats, fat garlic pickles, horseradish and crusty breads. It was an armada of aroma assailing the digestive juices of mouth and stomach and preparing your boy to attack with gusto. We passed a  long glass counter displaying the sources of these olfactory delights in glorious array and moved to another doorway in the back.

A rather dapper man wearing a large brown bowtie greeted us warmly and took us to our table. He handed us giant golden menus. Soft jazz soothed the room.
“It is a bitter day,” said the host, “may I bring you gentlemen some coffee to warm away the frost?”
We ordered our pre-meal drinks. “I will bring them immediately. Gus will be here shortly to serve you.”
We ordered from Gus, who appeared with the drinks and for over an hour talked about our life and reminisced of when we were boys. It was a pleasant conversation in a pleasant place.
Then we again went our separate lives.

There was an interesting coda to this. That evening I told Lois about the lunch and what a nice place Day’s was. We decided to go there for lunch on Saturday.
We walked downtown from our apartment, we were both great walkers then. It was a chill day, but easy going since the sidewalks were now swept of snow and slush. There was little wind. We walked straight to Day’s and pushed through the revolving door into the hallucinatory smells
“Have you ever been here?” I asked.
Lois said, “No.”
“I think you’ll like it. The food is great and they’re really friendly.”
We waited at the dining room door, and waited, and waited though we could see the host plainly. He saw us, too, but just stood toward the side biding his time. Finally, he snagged up a couple of those big menus and came to us.
“Lunch,” he snapped.
I nodded and followed him to a table near the kitchen. Each time a server went in or out the door banged the back of my chair. I looked over at Lois as we now waited to be served.
“Well, it was friendly enough when I was here with Ron.”
“Larry,” she said, “didn’t you notice?”
“Look around.”
I glanced about at the full tables and booths all filled with men. Lois was the only woman in the room. The waiter did finally deign to serve us, but the food proved less than expected, and I despaired that prejudice was always a two-way street.
I had certainly learned that when I went walking with Jane back a couple years, how when among White crowds we got dirty looks and then among Black crowds we got dirty looks. Our friendship wasn’t accepted anywhere because I was a White man and she was a Black woman. Bigotry and distrust because you are different is a terrible waste.

On March 14, Lois entered University of Pennsylvania for an operation, which she had on the 15th.  One procedure performed was Cervical Cerclage, which was a sewing up of the cervix. It was described as similar to putting a draw string in, it would keep things closed until a doctor snipped it free. 
The other procedure she had repositioned her womb. Her uterus was facing the wrong direction. The doctors advised the operations and cautioned they were experimental, but it was felt this would allow her to carry a baby closer to term so she would not be losing them by the fifth month.
She was recovered enough to be eating the same day after her surgery, but still suffering a great deal of pain. She had a lot of adhesions. She was in the U. of P. hospital until the nineteenth. It was a terrible time for her because of the indifference and inattention of the staff. They were very unresponsive to calls. Often groups would stand talking and giggling even though the patients' call lights were on. Lois was confined to bed, not allowed to get out or walk. On one instance she was brought her meal, but the attendant simply left it down below the foot of the bed where she could not reach it. Though she rang for help, no one came. Finally, the lady in the other bed got up, walked over and pushed her tray table up to where she could eat.
That lady was released before Lois and she got a new roommate, who was something of a religious fanatic. When Lois was finally allowed to walk, she went into the bathroom where she was in distress and in great pain. Lois was calling for help. She looked over and the roommate was kneeling in the bathroom doorway praying her Rosary. Finally, a nurse came in and asked what she was doing. The lady said my wife was having difficulty so she was praying. The nurse told her, “Don’t pray, call us, we’re right here.” Here was a case of a person “so Heavenly minded they were no earthly good.”

After she came home from the operation, things returned to a kind of normalcy. My dad picked us up for Easter because I still had car troubles. We were stuck on the Schuylkill Expressway, though, for hours due to an accident. (They didn’t call it the Schuylkill Parking Lot for nothing.)

We had our group birthday bash at a Conshohocken
Restaurant in mid-June, a converted warehouse called, oddly enough, The Warehouse. It cost $65.30 for 5 people. It was a white table-cloth place, too, not some dive.
On the 25th of June , I bought a new car as a birthday present to myself. I had had it with the VW not running. We brought the new car up and put it into my parent’s garage until I could get the license. It would sit there for a month.

The year before, two guys came by and told us they had bought The Commodore from the Old Women from whom we originally rented our little studio apartment. They said they were renovating the place and talked us into moving to a one-bedroom flat at the rear of the first floor. Well, they were true to their word about renovating. They put in updated kitchens and baths, painted the rooms and did other nice adjustments. The new apartment looked very nice.
What they didn’t do was fumigate. We had had some roaches visit in our first apartment, but nothing like in the new. The renovation activity must have stirred the little buggers up and they were now grazing in herds. If I went into the kitchen at night and turned on the light I would see them scatter in every direction and worse, hear their footsteps -- skitter, skitter, skitter. It was like a scene from a horror movie. I had never even seen a roach until I moved to the city and now I was surrounded by an army of them.
We had little choice but to endure and then one night I was in the kitchen and heard a strange noise.  Something was in the wall between kitchen and bathroom and decidedly much larger than any roach. I stood there listening and then it began pushing against the pipe panel on the kitchen side of that wall. The plywood covering was actually bulging in the middle. I feared whatever this monster might be it was about to break into the apartment. I shoved the kitchen table up against the panel and it eventually ceased its attempts to enter.  

I walked into the living room and said to Lois, “That’s it. We’re getting out of here!.
She didn’t object. The new apartment was at the rear of the building and our living room and kitchen had windows overlooking a parking lot behind. Lois was always nervous about this, feeling it would be easy to break into our place. Besides, we both hated the roaches.

We found a new, newly built and new to us complex in Aldan, Pennsylvania called The Lansdowne Towers. We didn’t realize the change this would make in our social and sexual lives.

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