Back in May 2011 when I began this on-line memoir, I posted willy-nilly whatever came to mind when I sat down at the computer. However, you, the readers, seem to like the varied series I did later. And the truth is that I enjoy writing an interlocking series.
So last Thursday I began a new one: my entrance into the world beyond the convent and my beginning, unwittingly, an editing career. This week I’m refashioning a June 7, 2011, posting I did about where I lived and my dad’s advice for working in the big city of Dayton, Ohio.
The office of Pflaum Publishers there occupied a brick building in a rundown section of town—lots of bars; vacate buildings; men down on their luck. Several blocks away, at 217 North Ludlow Street, stood the Loretto Guild, a residence run by the Dominican Sisters for single workingwomen. The building occupied an entire block in downtown Dayton.
Each tenant at the Guild rented a narrow room with a twin bed, a dresser with three drawers, a straight-backed chair, a nightstand with a lamp, a sink, and a closet. We used communal toilet and shower stalls and had both cafeteria and curfew. For about five months, I found myself right at home there—the convent with amenities.
During my two interview days in Dayton in late December 1966, the managing editor had taken me on a tour of the city. He’d pointed out the Loretto and its nearness to the publishing company. If hired, I’d exit the brick building, turn left, walk to the corner, turn right, cross the street, walk down five blocks, wait for the light, cross the street, turn left, pass a café, and open the door to the publishing house. An easy daily route.
Before I departed for Ohio to start my new job, Dad gave me some considered advice. “Dolores,” he said, “tell me approximately where the place you live will be in relation to where you’ll work.” My dad respected blueprints and maps, so I drew him one with both the living quarters and the workplace clearly labeled.
“How are you getting to work?” Dad asked.
“Tell me your route.”
I walked it off on the map.
“No. That’s not good. I want you to go a different way each day.”
“What do you mean, Dad?”
“One day, turn right instead of left. It’ll be longer but safer,” Dad said, using his index finger to show me the proposed route on the map. “The next day, turn right but walk beyond the corner, up a block or two. Then turn right and walk to the office. You'll be coming from a different direction.” His finger follows that route. “Some days I want you to walk down six or seven blocks and then come back up to the office. Change your route each day.”
“Why would I do that?”
“Honey, all sorts of men are lurking out there. They’ll know your route if you take the same one each day."
“Yes . . .?”
“They prey on women,” he said.
“Dad, who’d want to prey on me?”
“Believe me, Dolores, they’ll prey on anyone.”
Despite my listlessness and lack of humor at the time, I almost said, "Thanks, Dad, for that vote of confidence!" And also, despite his concern and care for me, I didn’t take his advice. No circuitous routes. Dad was right though. I did meet men. But no one “hit on” me. That’s the phrase I learned from a women I worked with: men “hit on” her.
The truth is I’m not sure I’d recognize a “hit” if it happened. Some things just don’t occur to me. It’s often only later—hours, days, weeks, years—that the match sparks and I say, “Oh, that’s what that was all about.” So if someone “hit” on me those long ago years, it went way over my head.
All photographs from Wikipedia except for the Loretto Guild, which is from the Dayton Library Postcard Collection.