Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Unclaimed treasures

Have you ever followed through on looking up unclaimed funds? You'll never know what treasures you'll uncover. I got $500 after my sister noticed my  name in an advertised list in her local paper in Ohio. My husband and I received another $700 through the state of Alabama. This took place more than five years ago, so I decided to look again recently. I unearthed some money for my sister-in-law's brother and another possibility for me. The trouble with finding my own name meant that I had to verify the address somehow; I knew I'd lived lots of places in Columbus, Ohio, but couldn't remember if one of the addresses had been on 11th Ave. One of my smart sisters suggested I contact the Columbus Metropolitan Library. A reference librarian, eager to face the challenges a patron offers, no doubt welcomes thorny questions presented in the on-line form. Would someone locate my addresses during the years of 1972-1982? Sure enough, she found five including addresses on 17th, 18th, N. Meadows Blvd., Oakland, and Medary. Throw in the ones I know about on 14th, 15th, and Chittenden, the one in Springfield, and even one in Kirkland, Missouri; but there were more in Columbus. I'd moved so many times from 1969-1981 that the City Directory couldn't keep up. None of them showed 11th so I remain out of luck unclaimed-funding-wise.
But having this information at hand prompted the following memories:
1969 Summer: I lived in a one-bedroom basement apartment with my sister, who was then Alice, in Cleveland Heights and worked for the temp agency, Kelley Girls.
1969 Fall: I lived in one of my sister Jeanne’s one-bedroom apartments in Findlay and then a trailer with a friend. I worked for Marathon Oil, starting in the mail department and advancing to the typing pool. When I went one step beyond to the steno pool, I quit before I got fired. (There were two documented instances of giggling when taking transcription from two good-looking 30 year olds.)
1970 Winter/Spring: I lived above Spayth’s Paints right in front of Marathon Oil. I could walk down my back steps, cross the alley, and enter work. It was a one-bedroom/2 beds, LR, very small kitchen with hot plate, bathroom with sink and toilet but had to share hall bath with old ladies ($75 a month). During lunch, I either went shopping on Main Street, walked to the library, or went home to read.
1970 Fall: Lincoln Tower, OSU (dropped out mid-spring quarter). While a student, I worked at Burger King.
1971 for 6 weeks: I lived above Ducky’s Flower Shop in North Baltimore with Ducky’s daughter Pam. I worked at Ducky’s for those six weeks until I found a job at the Republican Courier.
1971 remaining: I lived on my parents’ farm until returning to a Columbus apartment in Fall 1972 and starting work for $2.87/hour ($1 more than I’d been making at the Republican Courier (in classifieds). I found a first-floor apartment--who knows where?--that I only vaguely remember; the only distinguishing characteristic is that I shared a hallway phone.
1972: I first worked as a bookkeeper at OSU, no telling which department, getting the job partly because of my high typing score (105 words per minute with no mistakes) and my 10-key calculator speed of 212 characters per minute. Picture the Mad Men advertising floor on a much smaller scale and without the men. I quit and moved to the Educational Administration Department because the majority of women picked on someone—I can’t remember the reason—and it disgusted me. (The oddest things stick out in my mind: I remember going through a phase of eating three Jonathan apples a day while they were in season.)
I then worked at the Educational Administration Department as a secretary with Dr. Lonnie something-or-other) and a young secretary named Linda. Even though she was just a little older than me, she thought I was going way too far with my mini-skirts (which brings to mind the vinyl dress boots I wore one snowy day at which time I fell down and broke my elbow—had to look good in that mini-skirt, though). I moved to get away from a witch; unfortunately, I met up with her in a different department. That's the trouble with everyone being free to move around!
I don’t remember my address that year, but I had moved to a place that only took me 20 minutes to jump out of bed, comb my hair, and speed-walk to work. During the next few years, I continued to jump ship, both apartment-wise and work-wise. I think I’m missing a department here, but then I moved to the English Department at which time I started taking ballet lessons. I added tap-dancing and jazz to my ballet lessons.
I eventually moved to the Dean of the Graduate School’s office where I worked with Rose and Nancy. I remember Rose as being sedate but Nancy had quite a sailor’s mouth on her. She was in charge of purchasing supplies and would order things like dental tools to clean her own teeth; she also had the remarkable skill of buying a dress, studying how it was put together without taking it apart, returning it, and sewing one just like it.
While working at the Graduate School, I performed for a lunch-time bridal shower by tap-dancing to the song Top Hat. My dance teacher was in love with a young priest; I don’t think anything came of it, but she sure was pining for him.

At this point, I quit work altogether for a summer and took or helped with dance classes every day, hoping to convince myself I was capable of becoming a dance teacher. No go, so I returned to OSU. Once again, I’m not sure about the sequence of things, but I eventually went to work at the OSU Law School. It was located next to one of the student unions where we’d go bowling at lunch time.
After working at OSU for a few years and going to school much of that time for free, I had saved enough to take a 4-week trip to England and Europe. No one wanted to go with me so I went by myself. Of course, I quit whatever job I was working on at the time.
When I returned early to an overzealous boyfriend who claimed he wanted to marry me, I soon found out it wasn’t going to work and spent the rest of my savings on court reporting classes, first at Meramec Community College in St. Louis, then returning to Bliss College in Columbus, and finally ending up in Springfield at Clark Tech. Obviously, I didn’t make a go of it then either, but I experienced a life-changing event—I met a handsome, interesting carpenter who happened to be renting out Suite 101 at 806 S. Fountain in the house that he and two other  young men owned. He eventually became my husband. This was Fall 1978.
Because Steve was returning to OSU Grad School to study architecture and because I was simultaneously forced to take a break from court reporting school because I couldn’t get up my speed—can you tell me how a mandatory break is going to help increase speed?!—I got a transcribing desk job at Runfola’s Court Reporting Service in German Village. (Thirty-three years later, I'm still friends with a court reporter, Becky, I met at the time.) I moved to a one-bedroom apartment on 14th by alleys to both the right and back sides, snuggling up to the railroad tracks and beside the Ohio State Fairgrounds. (One summer day, I had opened the door, leaving the screen door in place. I was practicing my stenography when I got up to go into the other room; when I returned my tape recorder was missing.)
When I finally quit obsessing about court reporting, I finished up my final year and a half with OSU at the Human Performance Center, housed in the stadium. My son was born in February 1983 and I received vacation/sick leave until I officially quit two months later.
Two bad I couldn’t stick it out a few more months; back then, the amount of time it took to become vested was eight years, and I was just a few months shy. Of course, being the financial idiot I was at the time, I'm sure I would’ve taken the money and run regardless. As it stands, I just received notification that I have $12.95 in my retirement account with the State of Ohio. It will take a Notary’s signature to transfer it to an IRA to avoid a penalty.
No unclaimed funds for me, any way you look at it . . . but a fund of memories lasts longer anyway.

Monday, March 18, 2013

I never tire of telling people that they're not too old to learn new tricks. I personally change my view of what's possible as often as I've change my hair styles.


By trying new things as I get older, I find that I'm able to do more than I ever thought possible.

Maybe the previously unearthed talent of Spanish acquisition was only meant to be discovered for the time I needed to act on it; I wanted a job, taught myself Spanish, went after certification in the language, and got a position within the field. A few years later, I can barely remember whether I'm married to an esposo or an esposa. I can only imagine that Zumba will have a similar shelf line. Do I want to Zumba forever? Yes. Will I be able to? I have to think that I'm successfully building up my muscles and bones; but, seriously, the jury's still out.

Perhaps longer lasting will be my latest interest; it involves my hands rather than my feet. While I've enjoyed writing on and off through the years, I never felt the least bit artistic. I tried it once about thirty years ago when I drew illustrations to accompany my first picture book; they weren't terrible but showed no real talent. I only tried a very few times to draw after that, only to find that I didn't have it in me to draw a straight line or a circular circle. Faces? Ridiculous! Bodies? Stick figures only. From then on, I stuck with doing things I knew I could do, and that sure as heck didn't involve picking up a 5B pencil.

When I started writing picture books in more recent years, with an initial first-place win followed by one published book (albeit, by a nonprofit segment of an insurance company), I hoped the publishing world would clamor for more; instead, I've amassed dozens of rejections. Not one to go after the seemingly impossible for too long, I began to examine what might make a better impression on editors. Author illustrators seem to strike a chord, so I decided to search for that single artistic bone within me. Maybe I just needed a goal.

Anyway, I took a 4-day, 2-hour drawing workshop with Nancy Darrell in NC last fall and loved it. But the action of taking pencil to paper from that moment on still didn't grab me; it wasn't something I felt compelled to do. I've figured out since that I just needed time for the idea to percolate--much like English language learners need time to process before speaking. After the new year, I talked some friends into joining me for art classes at my house. Ashley Kellow, art teacher extraordinaire, teaches us the value of shading, measuring, and believing in ourselves. Andrew Loomis's Drawing the Head & Hands has become my bible.

So now, after finally dipping my toes in the artistic pond of black and white drawings, I want to soak myself up to the neck. So far I've copied a few photos; I've even used myself and my husband as live models. (And if I look younger and prettier than I really am, I claim poetic license.) I hope to eventually achieve success through what I call bringing to fruition the 3 M's (Model, Memory, and 'Magination). So far, my memory and 'magination only calls to mind another M (Miserable). But never you mind. If I were younger, I'd probably be embarrassed to share my work, but these days, that's half the fun of drawing.

So try something new yourself; you'll just never know what you're capable of until you do.