Home Kid

Home Kid
by Rosie Atkinson


“Put On Your Big Girl Panties and Deal With It”.
That phrase is printed on a pink T-shirt in my closet and I sometimes put it on when life presents it’s many challenges, which lately has become more often than not. Since I have now passed my 79th birthday and am on my way to the big Eight-Oh, I’m actually looking forward to whatever is down the road to be dealt with.
As a small child I had many situations for which the phrase had meaning although my parents would instead use phrases like, ”We can’t afford to get those shoes for you right now” and “Maybe next year when Daddy is working again”.
There was always a reason why we couldn’t go to see a movie, or in some cases why we only had potatoes for supper.
Then came WW2 and my parents’ divorce; another occasion calling for “Put on your big girl….”
The separation of my folks was quickly followed by the whole family being fractured beyond repair. My younger sister and brother and I were placed in the Norwegian Lutheran Childrens’ Home on the outskirts of Chicago and my older brother went into the Navy. Mom was forced to go to work to support herself. Dad came out West to Bremerton to help build wartime shipyard workers’ housing. Those were some challenging years for all of us. I had just had my 12th birthday in 1942 and felt as though my life had come to an end.
There were 150 children in this sprawling institution, most of whom were girls. My siblings and I were separated, the youngest, Larry, four, went to the boys’ dorm, my little sister, Marlene, eight, was placed in the little girls’ dorm, and I went to the top floor and became one of 14 “big girls”, ages 13 to 17.
My new dorm-mates and I referred to ourselves as Home Kids, which is what the “normal” kids at our school, (those who lived in real houses with two parents), called us. Kids were no different back in the 40s. They could still be cruel to anyone unlike themselves.
I never felt abandoned by my parents, especially my mother who came to see us almost every weekend she wasn’t working. She often took us to see our grandmother and out shopping. We got a few letters from our father telling us how rainy it was in his new town. And we got many letters and presents from big brother, Howie, who we all missed.
Most of the other kids were like me, coming from broken homes. Only a few were orphaned.
I cried all night the day we arrived and our matron, Miss Johnson, held and rocked me like a baby until I went to sleep.
They, the staff, kept us all very busy and we learned to like the strange (to us) meals served up the in the huge dining room. We all had chores to do like most kids in normal families, but instead of washing dishes in a kitchen sink we learned to load them into large trays and shove them into big industrial dishwashers. I dislocated a hip during the dishwashing job and was re-assigned to another lighter task.
For three years I learned to do a lot of things most adolescents never were exposed to. But mostly I learned to adapt, (i.e.), “deal with it…”

Chapter 1
The Sewing Room Caper

I boarded the big green Children's Home bus after school I had made it through my first month in high school after graduation at mid-term (February) from Ebinger Elementary school in Edison Park, IL. Five of us were Home Kids and I was comforted by the thought that they were having as much trouble as me with these new lessons. My only solution was to read and re-read the lesson for the next day’s test until I could recite it verbatim. After all chores were done I read for a half hour until Miss Johnson declared lights out.
“Not fair,” I said, out loud because Miss Johnson came over and tried to console me by saying she was sure I would pass tomorrow’s test and all I really needed was a good night’s sleep.
Miss J’s cajoling didn’t cut it. I was still worried I would not remember my lessons and was determined to put in another couple of hours of reading. After most of the girls were asleep, I stole out of bed and without turning on any lights managed to find my way to the first floor to the little sewing room just off the big playroom.
I had been engrossed in my reading and didn’t hear the door open until I heard Miss Meilie call out: “So! There you are, Rosalie. I finally caught you in the act.”
“What act?” I snapped back at the scowling matron. “I am trying to study for a test tomorrow and need to learn the rest of this lesson before morning.”
I turned back to my book, which meant turning my back on the matron. BIG mistake. She grabbed me by my hair and jerked me around and shouted, “Look at me when I’m talking to you!”
Miss M went on with her lecture and accused me of more than just staying up after lights out. She said, “You remember what I told you about the women who leave a light in their window at night to let men know they are available for sex. You are down here alone with the light on.”
She was accusing me of luring men to the sewing room! Now I was really angry.
There wasn’t much room in there for a wrestling match and I had to go to the bathroom so got up and shoved past Miss M and headed for the head.
This did not sit too well with the angry matron who gave me a punch as I passed her. My arm was smarting from the blow and I reacted as I would have in a back alley brawl. I swung back and caught her on the nose, which began to spurt blood immediately. I also had fists full of her hair as I grabbed and yanked as hard as I could. We stumbled into the bathroom and Miss Meilie landed in the claw footed tub.
Some of the girls began rushing down the stairs when they heard the ruckus.
“Jeez, Rosie”, said Anna. “You’ve really done it now. I think Miss Meilie’s dead.”
At once Miss Meilie was on her feet, looking daggers at me and trying to stop the blood from flowing out of her nose.
“Not dead, girls, but this will be reported in the morning,” she hissed. “All of you go to bed now” she said to the girls who had heard the fight and came down the stairs in a mob.
I was exhausted from all the activity and felt some remorse for hitting Miss Meilie, but I was mostly scared that I would be kicked out of the Home. Under the circumstances I was the person in the wrong. I was the Home Kid and the matrons were the bosses.
I went up to bed and waited until I was sure everybody was asleep. I carefully and quietly gathered up some of my clothes and my school books and put them in the large bag under my bed and made my way down the stairs to the street.
It was a long walk down to the corner and I was worried that the buses had stopped running for the night. There were no street lights and only a few houses I passed had porch lights turned on. I felt a rush as I neared the bus stop and saw the last bus headed for the city parked at the curb with its motor running. I grabbed the quarter in my pocket and boarded the bus and quickly went to the back seat.
I was only one of two passengers that night. It wasn’t very far to Grandma’s house and I managed to stay awake for the short ride. As soon as Grandma came to the door I felt safe once again. Nobody to hit me here. No mean matrons making accusations. Just Grandma with a hug and a cup of hot cocoa ready in minutes. Grandma was never a demonstrative type and rarely sympathized with any of us kids. But I felt like in this case she understood after I explained the situation.
She had called my mother as soon as she let me inside and told her to come in the morning. “It’s late and Rosie will sleep for now.”
(The next day: decisions to be made.)

Chapter 2
Three Years Earlier

It was my second week at the Home. I told the girl who sat next to me on the Home bus that the only reason I was there was because my dad was called to Washington on a very important assignment for the government, and that when he got back he was going to pick up me and my younger brother and sister and we were going to go to California to live in a big house with a swimming pool.
       Part of it was true. It was 1942 and I had just had my 12th birthday party and the last one with old friends on Dakin Street on the northwest side of Chicago. When the party was over my dad told us (my two younger siblings and myself) that we would be going to live in a kind of private school because he had to go to the west coast (Oh, THAT Washington!) and work on some new houses for people who worked in a shipbuilding yard.
       Part of that was true, too. The "school" was private because it was owned by the Lutheran Church. But, the classes held there were in religion and in practical disciplines, such as cooking and cleaning for the girls, farming and woodworking for the boys. The "real" school we attended was five miles away in the village called Edison Park.
       The big green bus we were on was owned by the Norwegian Lutheran Children's Home at the end of the Harlem Avenue bus line on the outskirts of town. The area was officially called Park Ridge, but the place in no way resembled the posh suburban neighborhood where rich kids lived. That Park Ridge was off limits to Home Kids and we soon came to know "our place" in the scheme of things.
The Home's setting was beautiful for an institution. Farmlands stretched out for miles over a flat, tree-dotted field. The brick buildings trimmed in white wood were landscaped in traditional grass, shrubbery and old Elm trees and stood out against the autumn colors under a bright blue Indian summer sky. An Illinois October is still one of the most beautiful sights in the land.
       The laughter of children could be heard as we approached the white fence-bordered driveway. The beginning smells of supper cooking drifted from the big kitchen. All of the senses were involved and my warm glow was enhanced by the larger than life story I just told my new friend. As we got ready to jump off the bus and race to the dormitory to change out of school clothes and go to the kitchen to set tables for 150 children and staff, I felt the excitement rise in my yet-undeveloped chest. One of the boys in the Big Boys' dorm was also assigned to dining room duty that day.
       Porky was one of the cutest guys at The Home and just before he got off the bus, he smiled at me and said, "See you later." I read so much more into that passing remark than he ever dreamed!
       Such was the beginning of my three-year stay at The Home. It was war time, my folks were divorced, my older brother was staying with my mom at Grandma's, and my younger sister and brother and I were "stuck" out here living in dormitories, getting up, going to school, marching to the dining room for meals, and going to bed by the huge gong of a big brass bell we called Emily.
       My new friends and I lied to each other about the good times that would come "some day soon". The kids in the village who were our classmates never believed the lies. The "normal" kids, ones who lived in houses with mothers and fathers and pets and siblings and had their own rooms with ruffled skirts on pink dressing tables and closets full of pleated skirts and big fluffy sweaters, would laugh at us and call us "Home Kids". Everybody knew Home Kids lied...
       But it was okay. We had each other and after the humiliation of going to school on an ugly old dark green bus that broke down frequently, carrying identical brown bags with identical dried up bologna sandwiches with light smears of oleomargarine and an apple for dessert, we could ride home and tell stories larger than life to each other. We could find solace in our own made up stories and in doing dining room duty with boys we had crushes on.
       Such was life for a teenager with her first pimple to show off to the other girls in the dorm. Such was the beginning of a life filled with determination to never allow a child of hers to ever become a Home Kid where bending the truth was necessary to one's survival. Such was the foundation upon which one little girl's future was built, who loved to spin wild and wonderful tales, but who knew the truth and tried to make up for all the stories she told as a girl by learning to write the truth as she knew it.
       I can hardly believe, as I look back through all the years in between that that little girl was me.

Chapter 3
House Rules for Home Kids

After a few days at The Home, which we lovingly called NLCH, we learned there were punishments for such infractions as “sassing” back the matrons, not being in bed ten minutes after the large bell was rung, missing the school bus, or-- a really big sin, wearing makeup!
All of my clothes, some of which were given to me on my 12th birthday just a few weeks before my enrollment, were confiscated. When asked why, the matron in my dorm informed me they were too “ worldly” for a girl my age. That meant the skirt was too short and showed my knees, or the blouse was cut too low: “We don’t want our titties to show, do we?” Miss Johnson would say. In my case a low cut blouse meant nothing because there was nothing to show. I do mean nothing!
They had a lot of reasons why we should dress in long, looser skirts and ugly blouses, (at my age now these styles would be okay only back then we hated them).
Then there was the makeup issue “Only whores wear lipstick,” Miss Johnson liked to say. I hadn’t heard that word before and had to have one of my dorm mates explain it to me.
Our goal in life at the time was to one-up the matrons. Woolworth had a lipstick for 25 cents called Tangee that barely colored the lips and was just a little greasy. So from the time we left the school bus we all got two swipes of the Tangee. No ruby red smackers here, but better than nothing, and by the time we returned to NLCH we had licked it all off.
I mentioned the punishments: Most of mine were leveled because I sassed back almost every time I opened my mouth. My regular punishment was to scrub our playroom floor which was the size of a basketball court. We were required to execute this task on our hands and knees. I have to say that had to be the cleanest floor in the entire complex and I had the knobbiest knees in the entire population at NLCH.
They never caught me wearing makeup, however one of the girls in my dorm was accused of wearing eye makeup. Anna had beautiful long black lashes which she inherited along with other beautiful features attributed to her Egyptian heritage. She had dry eyes and in those days the advice was to brush Vaseline on her lashes and around the lids. Of course this treatment made her eyes sparkle and the matrons were sure she was wearing eye makeup.
That accusation was put to bed when Anna was called in before the Home’s superintendent who bought Anna’s story about using Vaseline to keep her lids and lashes from drying out. Vaseline would have done nothing for my blond lashes. I’d have to wait until I left NLCH this place before I could wear eye makeup.
There was only one place we could wear makeup and dress outrageously: On STAGE!
There was a large gym with a stage in back of the chapel building that we could use to act in plays and perform in musicals, the most popular entertainment at the movies in those days. One of the younger volunteers encouraged us to make up dances and skits to perform on Friday and Saturday nights.
Like me, my dorm sisters were fascinated with movies and movie stars. We liked to think we were as good as Judy Garland and other super musical stars of the day and were always making up our own routines to perform before the captive Home Kids audience.
There were no movies in our little town so most of us had to wait until weekends when our relatives would take us to see the latest movies in one of the Chicago neighborhoods, usually a couple of bus or streetcar rides with transfers away.
Then a few of us would get together during the week and practice our favorite Doris Day and Debbie Reynolds routines in the play room until performance night in the Chapel’s big gym. Practicing putting on makeup alone took many hours. We were scolded by the matrons who witnessed this immoral task and told us we were all going straight to hell.
One of the girls said something like “shove it you old bat” and that’s when you-know-what hit the fan. We were all on floor-scrubbing duty for two weeks. Not that the floors needed it since as the resident-scrubber most of the time, I did my penance better than most. The floors were the cleanest in the complex.
We were tired out when variety show-time night finally came, but we were troupers and “the show must go on” was our motto. We had a great time performing those skits. Even the matrons applauded our efforts. We were big fishes in a little pond and boy, did we know it! (Autographs anyone? Anyone….?)

Chapter 4
“The Enemy” Who Opened our Minds

While the girls at the Home pursued feminine interests like learning to sew and cook the boys occupied themselves with guy oriented activities including, among other things, publishing the home newsletter in a print shop located in the basement of the boys’ dorm.
Several acres on the grounds were farmed by the Home Boys (we coined the phrase first!). We had beautiful fresh tomatoes, golden ears of corn and a few other vegetables needed for a healthy diet.  In addition to providing food for the table the small farm taught the boys  some valuable business lessons by setting up a roadside vegetable stand where surplus produce could be purchased by the neighbors. 
During the war there was a lot of hatred and prejudice against the Japanese.  We felt obligated to hate them as well. After all, they were the enemy who killed many of our servicemen at Pearl Harbor.  Before that we hated the Nazis we saw in newsreels at the movies.  Germany was where my father was born and even though he had been in this country since he was three years old my mother imagined some of the neighbors whispered behind our backs about our family having German roots—like the Nazis. The only thing in our favor was we looked like most Americans—white complexions, blue eyes, blond hair…..  We could have been Swedish, or Polish or of English descent; except that our name was Bruder.  Can’t get much more German than that. 
Most of us couldn’t distinguish between Japanese and other Asians.  We knew Chinese people made chop suey and presented fortune cookies as dessert at the Jade Palace restaurant where my brother worked before the war. We weren’t sure what Japanese people ate, nor did we care.  We knew them as Japs, as in JAPS BOMB PEARL HARBOR!
What we knew about the Japanese was what we read in the papers, or heard on the radio.  But the only thing they were telling us was the Japanese were the bad guys. 
Fast forward to 1943 and the arrival of Shig Okada, a young Japanese from the west coast, who we were told would be a handyman at the Home.  That told us they could have him do any job nobody else wanted to do. One of his duties was to guide the budding young farmers in the boys’ dorm how to grow vegetables.
But what we weren’t told about this young man of 18 was that he grew up on a farm in Washington State and helped his parents farm their land.  He had decided to major in agriculture in college but didn’t get the chance to enroll because about then the government decided that Japanese people living in this country needed to be rounded up and interned in camps away from the west coast.  It didn’t matter if they were born in Japan or in the U.S. or that many of them were second and third generation Japanese.  Shig was born in this country.  He might have been recruited into the service as many of his friends were but the rumor was he had flat feet and they wouldn’t take him. (We never heard that from Shig, so can't confirm that).          
He came to us as this dark skinned, handsome, slightly bowlegged man built like a wrestler.   His good looks didn’t go unnoticed among the females at the home, residents and staff alike.
Shig did a lot more at the Home than teach the boys how to plow a fine furrow, or plant a healthy row of corn. He could drive so was an errand boy part of the time, and he was handy with tools and could fix or repair leaky pipes or anything else that was broken,  a daily occurrence in those days.  No matter what it was, furniture, electrical appliances, plumbing -- Shig was the one to call. I can still see this little guy racing from one building to another like a streak of wind.          
Our new handyman harbored no bitterness and spoke freely about the war his homeland had started.  He said, “I was born here so the war affected me, too,” he told us when we asked why he didn’t hate Americans. “Like you, I am an American of Japanese descent.”  We thought about that and remembered that many of our grandparents were born somewhere else. My dorm mate, Anna, had Egyptian roots.  My Grandma and Grandpa Bruder came over from Germany after the turn of the century.  My mother’s parents sailed here by steamship from Finland.
Shig had one other admirable trait:  He liked kids. We all learned something from our new handyman.  For one thing we learned to say “Japanese” where before we had only referred to these dark skinned people as “Japs”.
The respect that the home kids had for Shig became more than mere respect; it grew to genuine friendship.  We defended him to newcomers until they learned to know him as we did and they in turn defended to other new arrivals
He became our mentor, bus driver to school when we missed the bus.  He started up the old panel truck when it was snowing because he knew he would be pressed into service. He brought us our forgotten lunches, taught us to fold sheets in the laundry, and helped us with our homework when we asked.
We learned to say “Sayonara” when he received orders to move to a new location.  He didn’t have to teach us to cry, we did that on our own when he drove away out of our lives forever.
I hoped that the people at his new place learned to respect and love Shig as much as we did.

Chapter 6
Chapel, Confirmation and Church

Some of the girls in my dorm had a smattering of religious training before they became residents of the Home located at the end of the Harlem Avenue bus line and Canfield Road.
“Chapel” was every Wednesday after school in the building adjacent to the dorms, playrooms and dining facilities. The large structure also housed the sewing and cooking classes and a huge gymnasium where basketball games and boxing competitions were held among other recreational activities.  Pre-Confirmation on Thursday afternoon was held in the chapel. Confirmation Class was several miles down the road at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Edison Park on Saturdays. Sunday services were at the Chapel or in town.  Special occasions like Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas were usually held in the Home Chapel.
We never questioned why we had to study religion so (ahem) religiously.  If you wanted to keep the peace you just fell into lock step with the others.
Chapel was where we studied the Bible (St. James version) and signed up for choir if we liked to sing. If we signed up for choir we were excused from a half hour of dining room chores. So of course most of us signed up, even those (or especially those) who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.
I was baptized in the Chapel soon after I arrived at the home. It was assumed that I would attend confirmation classes and this would lead to my becoming confirmed as a member of the Church. Since my father and his parents were baptized Lutherans I was okay with it.  Living in the Home I figured I may have been shunned by my peers if had I refused to be confirmed.
I dutifully attended confirmation classes and we all learned the Ten Commandments and many other passages from the Holy Bible that I’ve since forgotten. I passed the tests.  My dorm mates who encouraged me to join them said the best part about going into town for the class was a dance they held afterwards (and there would be a lot of boys we didn’t know there).  I pretended to go for that reason alone, but there was so much more to my early introduction to the teachings of the Bible.
Did these lessons make an impression?  Only God knows. I can truthfully say some of it stuck, but it was personal what each of us carried away from this intensive religious training. I don’t believe I attended many Lutheran services after leaving the home in l944 with the exception of one with a friend in Chicago and another in the town where I now live.
I don’t think I’m an Atheist like my Swedish Grandma. I’ve attended church services in a variety of faiths including Catholic and Methodist. I still have a copy of the Holy Bible given to me when I was eight by the pastor of a Presbyterian Church on the Northwest side in Chicago.
I mentioned earlier that I liked to dance and act in plays and show off.  I got my opportunity to perform before the entire Home staff, residents and relatives on the Sunday before Christmas one year.  My role was to read the chapter in Matthew about the birth of Jesus.  My brother Larry and sister Marlene were also in the star studded cast, Larry as the Baby Jesus in a laundry basket.  Only he was not quite a baby, being about five years old at the time. It took all four of the shepherds and three wise men to carry “little” Jesus to the front of the church where the manger was laid out complete with paper mache sheep, two real chickens and a stuffed pig that really oinked when you punched it in the side.
The costumes were grand with lots of help from the matrons who donated finery to the robes for the Three Kings, ragged clothes for the wise men and shepherds.  I, as the “star” of the show, wore a black robe and entered the sanctuary from a door behind the pulpit on cue and began reading from the book of Matthew.
And lo, a Babe was born in a manger, and lo, a wise man fainted from too much clothing in the warm chapel, and lo, the chickens got loose and ran under the pews toward the open door and escaped! 
So it wasn’t Academy Award stuff. I was told our God was a forgiving God, so it was okay. As for my faith, I believe I’m still a work in progress—as are most people I know who might profess otherwise,
When I get to the Pearly Gates and St. Peter asks me if I believe in God I might have to confess, “I’m still in training”.
At that point someone who believes in reincarnation might ask St. Peter,  “Point to the door leading back to life and I’ll give it another shot.”  And another.  And another…  (Shirley MacLaine would be so proud).
Finally in the interest of being politically correct, I don’t think we should feel the need to apologize to anyone for our beliefs or non-beliefs.  As Forrest Gump said:  ”That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

End Chapter 6 ###

Chapter 7
Say You’re Dutch

Years before two of my siblings and me, were enrolled at the Children’s Home, we had been admonished by our father when we moved t o a new neighborhood, “Don’t tell anyone you’re German.  Say you’re Dutch.”

That was because the Nazis were the enemy and everybody knew the Nazi movement began in Hitler’s Germany.

I thought about that when we went to the Home. What if there were kids there whose dads and brothers were fighting in Europe against the Nazis?

Would they think we might be aligned with the enemy?  Blue eyed blondes with  a German name were clues to our heritage.  There were no Japanese kids at the Home, not at first. Most of them were like us, blue-eyed blondes, Swedes, Norwegians—lots of them—and other nationalities. Probably a few Germans, but we didn’t pay attention that closely.  We were all just kids.

One of my best friends in my dorm was Anna Nazar, a pretty girl of Egyptian descent. Another pal was Doris Aust and I think she had a Norwegian parent. The cutest guy (I thought) was Porky Yakich who I believe was Polish.

It’s funny when you are at an age where these things don’t really matter but you have parents who for reasons of their own think it was important.

I began riding the bus to school after I left the home with a nice looking chubby guy who I found out later was Jewish. That didn’t ring any bells with me, but when his mother found out he was spending time with a “gentile” he had to quit talking to me.  I never understood why.

I learned some rather hurtful words at my father’s knee. He called my Jewish friends some names and when they repeated them to their parents they couldn’t play with me anymore.  Same for Italian, Polish and heaven forbid there should ever be a black family in our neighborhood! He had a derogatory name for anyone who didn’t look like him or his family. Or eat the same kinds of food.

It would be years down the road that I began to see why our parents tried to steer us in the “right” direction.  And maybe that was one of the reasons why I left Chicago for good and came out west to live with my Aunt Emma in Bremerton, WA.

I had my first embarrassing moment when I moved in with the Durands and soon discovered there were Native Americans living across the road.  They had kids with whom we attended school.  In those days we called them Indians.

I was in a discussion at our next door neighbor’s house and commented on her dog that was a lot like our old dog back in Chicago.  I said he also “ran around the house like a wild Indian.”

The neighbor who lived across the road happened to be in the kitchen using the neighbors’ washing machine.  She poked her head around the corner: “Oh, we aren’t so wild anymore”, my new Indian neighbor said with a broad smile!

I could have melted through the floor about then. I apologized and promised myself to watch my mouth after that!

End Chapter 7 ### 

Chapter 9
Communication-Living With Grandma’s Friend

The minute I walked into the house where Grandma had arranged for me to stay I knew it was a big mistake. 
 Mrs. Maki, Grandma’s friend, only knew a few words of English.  I stood there with my small suitcase in hand and asked her where I would be sleeping and she held up her hand and said, “Vait”.
 She then picked up the wall mounted telephone and dialed a number.  I recognized from the chattering in Finnish that she was talking to Grandma.  She waved me over and handed me the phone.  Grandma said, “Miss Maki said to ask what you just said to her.”
 I told Grandma,  “I asked her where I was supposed to sleep.”
 “Okay, give back to her the phone ,” she said in broken English.
 More Finnish chatter and Mrs. Maki was all smiles as she hung up the phone and beckoned me to follow her.
She showed me to a small room with a single cot somewhere in the back of the house and pointed at the bed.  There was a small dresser and some hooks on the wall where I was supposed to put my clothes.  Okay, that problem solved, I then decided I had to go to the bathroom.  But instead of asking Mrs. Maki where it was I just wandered along the hallway back toward the kitchen and found it myself. I didn’t want to go through the telephone thing again so soon.
After I was through I came out and Mrs. Maki was standing there with a frown on her face. She began taking in Finn again and this time I held up my hand and said,
“Vait!”  I went to the phone and dialed Palisade 0604. This was Grandma’s number, one that I memorized when I was about four years old and remember to this day.
I said, “Mrs. Maki is upset about something. You ask her about it.”
I handed Mrs. Maki the phone and more Finn talk ensued.  Lots more.  I got back on the line and Grandma said, ”Mrs. Maki was trying to tell you not to ever use the bathroom by the kitchen.  You have to use the one out near the back door.  She will show you where it is.”
Several more communication glitches took place until that night when I was so exhausted I could have slept standing up in a corner.
A few days later I got a toothache so bad that aspirin wouldn’t stop the pain.  In those days you didn’t make an appointment at the dentist; you would merely show up at his office and sit in the waiting room until the receptionist would tell you it was your turn to go in.
I went to a movie after getting the tooth pulled because I didn’t want to try to explain to Mrs. Maki why I was so swollen and hurting. I got back to my temporary home very late, let myself in and fell into bed.  The next morning I was jolted awake by an extremely angry Mrs. Maki.  I had bled all over the pillow and she was shouting something in Finn, all the while shaking her index finger at me as she pointed at the pillow case.

Good grief!  Now what do I do.  I said to her, “I wash, I wash!”  But she only waved her arms around still shrieking at me in Finnish.
Back to the telephone and getting Grandma to interpret.

End Chapter 9 ###