Jean Lund's Blog











CHAPTER THREE

     Dad started coming home later after work and I don’t think Ma was too happy about it. I think memories of Helen Bussey came back to haunt her and remind her of what her husband was capable of.  And she had good reason to be suspicious.  But if worry was on Ma’s mind at the time she was either really good at hiding it or I was oblivious to it. After all there hadn’t been anything in our family to ever have to worry about. No illnesses, no deaths, no financial worries. I don’t recall anything out of the ordinary other than noticing that Dad wasn’t home by the time I went to bed but I knew he had to schmooze customers after the end of their work day to try to sell them a car so I never thought twice about his absence. Seeing Ma standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes by hand and looking out into the darkness through the window wasn’t unusual. I always figured she was thinking about what chores she would be doing the next day. Little did I know that this time she was watching. Watching and waiting for the few headlights passing on the highway to see if one would be him turning in the drive-way finally home for the night.

One night after I had gone to bed and was sound asleep, I woke up to sounds of crashing. It took a moment for me to realize that it was more than something just falling. I heard my Mom yelling, “If you want this house broken up, I’ll break it up!” and then the sound of dishes hitting the floor. Stunned, I made my way out of bed and opened my bedroom door which led right into the wide open kitchen. There stood Ma with the cupboard doors open grabbing dishes out and smashing them full force onto the linoleum floor. With my mouth wide open in shock I listened and somehow made out the words that she was saying. It seemed Ma had called around to the bars looking for him because he was late and she found him in a drunken stupor. He found his way home later and then told her that he was seeing another woman. That’s when the shit hit the fan and the dishes started flying. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I don’t even remember where Dad was standing while Ma was losing her mind. I had lost my own with the shock of it all. It happened so fast and there was no warning. I just stood and listened in total disbelief and tuned most of it out. I only heard Dad say something about loving someone else and that he was going to get a divorce. Ma grabbed a butcher knife out of it’s holder on the wall near the back door and started chasing him around the small table in the center of the kitchen. Scared out of my mind, I ran screaming to her, “Mom, Mom, don’t please don’t. MOM!!!”  I put myself between the two of them and begged them to stop. I don’t remember much else except he left and, Ma paced the floor, and I hugged her and cried. While I was trying to figure out what it all meant, Ma was probably wondering what was going to happen. All the things that run through your head when you discover infidelity. Who is the other woman? How old is she? What does she look like? Where did he meet her? How long has it been going on? How serious is it? Is he going to leave? What will I do if he does? A million things must have been racing through her head. There were no tears. I would imagine the idea of grieving wasn’t even close to her thoughts. At the time she was only filled with rage and questions.  Whatever she was thinking, she was holding it in….for now. I found myself trying to comfort and hold her rather than her assuring me that everything would be alright. Once I went back to bed, my own questions started showing up. What did he mean he loves someone else? What did he mean he wanted a divorce? Was he really going to move out? Would he really leave me? Where would that leave me with him? What would we do if he moved out? Ma didn’t drive and had no job. How could he do this to my Mom? Was this just a bad dream? I drifted off a bit before the alarm clock rang and it was time to get up and get ready for the school bus to take me to school.

The rest of my childhood is spotted with blurs. I only remember bits and pieces. Dad didn’t change his mind. He didn’t stop seeing the woman. He continued to stay out late and come home half baked or not at all. Suddenly Ma was smoking cigarettes one right after the other. And she paced the floor. And I was looking for an escape from all the sorrow and madness. Ma finally found out who the woman was when she got on the phone one night and spoke with Ma while she was with Dad. I don’t know what was said but I do know Ma was yelling. And finally we at least knew something about her. Her name was Josie Boser. She was a bartender in Pierz where Dad hung out trying to sell cars. Evidentially there must have been a lot of slow nights. What was worse was that she was only twenty one years old, making her thirty years younger than my Dad! How could he?! I imagine that was an even bigger blow to Ma as she wondered how she was going to compete with someone who was little more than a kid. My heart was broken for my Mom. She was the best mother in the world and didn’t deserve what was happening to her. I felt overwhelming anger at Dad but also my nerves were shot and my own heart felt broken. I was Daddy’s little girl. He was the one I cried for before I could walk. He rocked me to sleep in his big red rocker every night and carried me to bed. And I sleepily kneeled in front of him on my bed to say night time  prayers before he tucked me in. He taught me to ride a bike, to swing a baseball bat, to bait a hook so I could fish, spoiled me rotten with anything I ever wanted and a million other things. There were pictures all over of me on his lap or standing beside him with my little hand wrapped around his index finger. He was my everything and suddenly I had been left behind. Ma and me both. It was beyond devastation.

One of the things I would do to escape was to go to the Catholic church two miles away, often walking. The church had a separate building where catechism was taught on Saturday mornings but it also housed an indoor basket-ball court that served as a roller rink on Friday nights. The local kids would rent skates and play crack the whip or skate to rock and roll music. I went to be with friends and get away from the madness. It wasn’t long before I met a whole new group of friends. The guys dressed like the the “bad” boys from Grease. They were wild, smoked and drank beer. They had cars and were cute. They came from the nearby small townships of Lastrup and Harding which was closer to Pierz and where my Dad seemed to be spending all of his time now. So I took up drinking and smoking and making out with guys. I hadn’t been successful in getting an “in” with my high school’s clique so I gave up but still had fun with them during classes. I was still the class clown, a gift I had brought with me from the little one room school I attended in elementary. The kids at school in Onamia dressed in a fashion known as “Baldies.” Today they would be called preppies. The one’s whose family had some money. There were Baldies and Greasers. I dressed preppie but still never felt like I fit in. The Greasers on the other hand wore pointed black boots that zipped up in the back or side, black jeans, leather jackets and the guys wore their hair slicked with grease. They all had 56 or 57 Chevy’s and a girl beside them with their arm around coppin’ a feel with one hand and a bottle of beer in the other. Attracted to the under current of danger and the ready acceptance I received from the gang, I opted to start running with the Greasers.  Not only did they drink beer but they had access to hard alcohol and it didn’t take long before I was chugging down Vodka and Whiskey, Slow Gin and Peppermint Schnapps straight out of the bottle and puking my brains out on some dark deserted highway along side the car. But I had fun. I had new girlfriends to hang out with and fun with the guys and still the class clown, would do just about anything crazy to get attention and approval.

One night I got the brilliant idea to have my friends drive me into Pierz. I was pretty buzzed and wanted to go find my Dad in the bar he was hangin’ in with his hussy. So off we went and I half staggered my way into the bar, which also served full dinners and there sat my Dad at the counter. I stood at the entrance and warbled out my slur, “Hey DAD!” He and everyone else in the room turned to look. “Hi ya Dad…I just am out wiff my friends and thought I’d stop in ta see ya.” It didn’t take him long to figure out I’d been drinking and he said as much. “Oh, don’t wurreee Dad…I’m shober. Look!  I’ll walk a shhtraight line for ya.” And I managed to put one foot in front of the other all the way up to the stool he was sitting on. I asked where Josie was because I wanted to meet her and he introduced me to a gal behind the counter that was ugly as sin compared to my Mama and had hips as wide as the door I’d just slung my way through. I thought to myself right then and there, `This ain’t gonna last!! She ain’t half as good as Ma.’ But I kept my mouth shut. I wasn’t interested in her. I was interested in getting my Dad’s attention. And I succeeded. Josie’s sister Irene happened to be there as well and she was the same age as me. Josie introduced me to her and suggested that Irene go hang out with me. I was reluctant but in the back of my mind, I thought why not? If I stay close to this Bozo and her sister, I can stay close to my Dad and that was all that really mattered to me at the time. And so showing him I could walk a straight line again, off I went out the door, Irene behind me laughing. I thought well if he can drink, so can I!

Things started getting a bit twisted then. Unbeknownst to Ma, I started hanging out with Irene, staying over night at her house with Josie sleeping downstairs. Ma just knew I was staying overnight at a girlfriends and she never really pressed to know my exact where-abouts. I imagine her mind was full trying to figure out where her husband was and what his next move was going to be. Irene and I got hammered a few times and she introduced to me all the cute guys in Pierz. We double dated at the movies a couple of times and then one night Josie came into the bedroom to try to hang out for a little bit. She told me that she loved my Dad and that they were going to get married and that if I wanted to come live with them, that it would be great. I could have my friends over for cokes and hang out etc. She really tried to paint a nice picture. It was then that I kind of woke up out of my alcohol fog and realized what I had been doing. Sleeping at the enemy’s house just because I was trying to win my Dad back, not only for myself, but for my Mom; for our family. The gamut of emotions that filled me in that moment were unbelievable. I was filled with horrific guilt for betraying my Mom by allowing myself to interact with this whore of a woman, and I felt rage and sheer hatred for her for destroying our lives. I told her I would think about it but couldn’t wait for the night to end and come morning high tale my ass back home and confess to Ma where I’d been.

Ma forgave me because that’s the kind of woman she was. Hell, she would have probably forgiven Dad had he stopped cheating and came home and asked. She wouldn’t have forgotten, but she would have forgiven. He didn’t though. He continued to stay out at night, sometimes not coming home, but he didn’t move out. He didn’t file for divorce either, leaving Ma and her life up in the air. She finally had to have someone to talk to and really didn’t have any friends. She pretty much wrapped her life up in her home and family. So she broke down and called my mother Patty in Los Angeles and told her what was going on. Patty was furious to say the least and stayed in touch with Ma often to find out what was going on. She planted the seed in Ma’s head that maybe she should start putting money aside and move out to California. Patty said she would take care of her and me. But Ma was a typical Taurus. They planted their feet and stayed rooted to their homes. She had helped build this house from the ground up when her own kids were little when it was nothing more than a one room cabin. She pounded nails and carried lumber as they added on to the house over the years, eventually making it big enough for my brother and I to remain living with them and have our own rooms. She had her own belongings in the house that she had hand picked out and decorated herself. The last thing she wanted to do was to uproot and especially to the uncertainty two thousand miles away. But her life at home was filled with just as much uncertainty at the moment.

Still trying to subconsciously run away from it all, I kept running with the wild crowd. New people from Minneapolis bought the empty cabin through a small patch of woods to the north of our house in the fall of 1965. The following spring I spotted a girl around my own age. Hungry for friends that were nearby I was quick to go over and introduce myself to Cindy McDermott. She was a shy nice girl whose grandparents had bought the cabin and like me had raised her. But hers hadn’t adopted her like mine had. It was common ground for us right from the beginning. McDermott verses O’Brien, both raised by grandparents calling them Mom and Dad and both Catholic. I invited her to go to the roller rink and she accepted. We really got along well but she learned soon that I had “undesirable” friends. She was a good kid and worried a lot about getting in trouble, but in the end I corrupted her and she was smoking and drinking with my friends. She didn’t drink much at first, afraid of getting caught by her folks and being in trouble but she smoked and had a beer or two and hung out with us. As time went on we almost always stayed over night at each others place when she was up from the cities for the weekend or during the summer. But mostly she stayed at my house. There was a small shack house on our property that had a twin cot, a small closet, a small old wood burning stove and my Dad’s ham radio equipment in it. But it was big enough for us to sleep in and listen to our vinyl records. It was also big enough for us to sneak boys in late at night and hide them in the closet if we thought my parents were coming. From time to time we got grounded for coming home late but Cindy and I rigged up two cans with string and dragged it through the patch of woods a good hundred and fifty yards and actually got them to work! So we talked through the cans when we couldn’t be together planning our next escapade or talking about the boys we had crushes on. But mostly it was Cindy telling me what I did while drunk on my ass the night before and us laughing ourselves sick!

Meanwhile Mom was trying to be creative at winning her husband back. She actually invited Josie to the house for dinner.  To say I felt bewilderment at the thought would be an understatement. I thought she had really lost her mind but she said, “If they are in the house together, then at least I know where he is.” I couldn’t stand the thought of that whore in our house but stayed home for dinner to see what would happen. The conversation of course is a blur in my mind today, but I remember clear as a bell that she was playing footsie with my Dad under the table and I felt like I was going to puke. Dad had become a real boozer now that he was messin’ around with Josie so there was a case of beer in the kitchen and all three were drinking around the dining room table. Completely disgusted with the scenario, I helped myself to as many bottles as I could down, hoping there wouldn’t be enough for anyone to get drunk and cause a scene. I was the only one who got drunk and passed out in my bed. I was so unhappy about my home life that I started sneaking into the cupboard where they kept the hard liquor. There were several bottles in there, including gin, vodka, whiskey and Ma’s favorite Apricot Brandy. I found and took a small flask and took it to school hiding it in my locker. During recess, I would grab it and go into the bathroom and take a few drinks. Needless to say between boys and home life stress, my grades dropped dramatically. I was always in trouble but still only for being a class clown. I never acted out my anger. I had stuffed it down so far that I didn’t even know how much I really felt. I just became funnier and funnier doing crazy things that from time to time got me suspended for a day or two. And a few times I ditched school altogether with a girl named Brenda Beaulieu who was a Chippewa Indian from the reservation and a very intimidating mean girl. But we were friends and she had a car so we skipped school and went driving and drinking. I wasn’t much good as a liar because once she drove me to pick up a blonde haired, blue eyed boy I liked in the town of Garrison and all three of us hung out until I knew I should get home. She was driving me home when all of a sudden we hear honking behind us. Lo and behold it was Ma and Dad and I about shit twinkies!  We kept driving and he kept honking waving his arms for us to pull over until I told Brenda she better stop. We pulled off the side of the dirt road and got out. I introduced Brenda as my friend and the guy as her brother. Nothin’ like trying to pass off a full blooded Chippewa girl and a blonde/blue eyed guy as brother and sister!  So much for my attempt to cover-up! Grounded again! Grounded really meant nothing because Dad was never home to enforce it and Ma was so stressed over her cheatin’ husband that all I had to do was whine about how something special was happening and could I be grounded “next week” instead and she always gave in. I would do that over and over and “next week” never ever came.

One night I came home fairly sober for a change and found Ma in the living room on the fold out couch where Dad would normally sleep. She was in her pastel blue silk long nightgown stretched out and moaning. It didn’t take long to realize she was passed out drunk. I went to the cupboard and the Apricot brandy and half the bottle of whiskey were gone. Before I could turn around she started vomiting in the bed. I was only fourteen years old and there lay my sweet Mama puking up chunks of hamburger dinner all over the bed and her nightgown. My heart was broken to see her like that. I sat her up and pulled off her gown and stripped the sheets off the bed and got her cleaned up and in a new nightgown just as my Dad showed up. He walked in and saw what was going on and started to make an attempt to help. It was more than I could bear as I lifted her up and carried her in to her own room and bed. I looked back over my shoulder and yelled, “I hate you….I HATE YOU!!” When I woke up the next morning, he had left for work……….or someplace unknown.



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