"Gayle...your mother is a force." — HBO
Here's my story. Take or leave it. Bear in mind, whatever I do, I do fast, and if it takes a long time to do, like knitting, it's not for me. The sewing machine has always been my friend. I can whip out dresses, quilts and curtains in no time.
My youth. Money came and went early in my life. My dad's business went up in flames and so did our income. We lived hand to mouth. And what followed were trying times emotionally and financially, including the early death of my kid sister. I had ambitions and I had the brains but after my sis died of pneumonia my mother was overly protective of me. She couldn't bear to lose another child. Academically, there were opportunities for me including Juilliard. I was a violinist and have a picture to prove it. However, they all included travel and I was not allowed. Mother wanted me nearby to keep an eye on me.
When I graduated from Girls High School, I wanted to go to a liberal arts college and become a lawyer. However, watching my parents work so hard to make a meager living, I knew I needed an education that would bring me a job and money quite soon. I ended up at Browns Business College and learned the stenotype machine. I hated it. Soon after I landed a job at Seely Shoulder Pads and it didn't take long for my boss to see that office work was not for me. I was a people person. He put me in sales and I flourished. Through, let's just say for now, a family connection, my sister-in-law's dad was in a special Jewish family, kind of like the special Italian family you are familiar with. I was young, just married (oh, I forgot to mention, I met my husband, Gerry, who lived in the neighborhood. He was a Kirschenbaum and they owned a big Jewish funeral home. If you wanted sex in those days you got married. Hence, I ran away to New Orleans to elope with him before he was being shipped to the South Pacific. It was WWII). Back to my job at Seely's. I ended making up huge sales to the major stores at that time including JC Penney's and Montgomery Ward. That's when my bosses got nervous about the size of my commissions and put me on salary. Talk about double standards for women and men. Gerry came back from the war, I got pregnant and stopped working. My boss was not happy to lose me. But Gerry no longer would allow me to work.
Although my husband came from money and he worked in the family business, he was not a big earner and we struggled to make ends meet. I realized I had a skill for stretching the dollar. I would have different jars that I would set up to save for vacations, educations, and occasions; and then there were green stamps and gifts in lieu of interest at the banks. We got television sets, pots and pans and toaster ovens. I wanted my children to have what I didn't and be able to go to college. I always had an inclination for numbers and loved playing cards, mahjong and the stock market. I pride myself in doing "puts and options." I also love to travel and even though we didn't have much money, I made sure we took trips, many road trips. I'd cook up food, pack the kids and we'd stay at motels. I still felt something was missing.
I wanted to go back to school, but my husband didn't want to pay for my tuition so I turned my attention to getting involved with charities. I became president of Sisterhood at our temple, ran antique shows, Israeli fairs, fundraised for cerebral palsy and broke records. My desire to work and my passion for travel led me to open up a travel agency. There are many travel benefits that came with owning a travel agency. We traveled all over the world. I might not have gotten a college education but I am expert on many topics and am always ready to offer my opinion. I look at life as an adventure and even today enjoy a glass of wine, a good party, and exotic excursions.
I'm single since my husband passed away a few years ago. Gayle often asks me if I'd like to meet someone. I always say I'm not looking to be someone's "nurse with a purse." If you are young, well-off and fun, I might be interested. After all, at this point in my life the only one I answer to is God and I like it this way.